Blog Entry

NL East has league's best rookies

Posted on: September 8, 2011 9:20 pm

By C. Trent Rosecrans

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL Rookie of the Year.

View contenders for the: AL MVP | NL MVP | AL Cy Young | NL Cy Young | AL Rookie of the Year

Last year at this time it appeared a Brave was a shoe-in for the Rookie of the Year, but this time we mean it. The Braves will have the Rookie of the Year. Probably. The question is, which Brave will it be -- and will either avoid the sophomore slump that has plagued Jason Heyward a year after finishing second in the voting for the NL's top rookie?

The ballot asks for voters to vote for three rookies, but what's the fun in that? Here's three --plus one more in the race for the National League's best newcomer.

Danny Espinosa, Nationals: The Nationals second baseman was a leading candidate in the first half of the season, hitting 16 homers, driving in 52 and stealing 12 bases. In the second half he's hit just .206/.285/.311 with three homers and eight RBI in 47 games. Overall he's hitting .229/.316/.407. So while he's still under consideration, his drop off has been so drastic that he won't win the award, and may even struggle to get votes, because of the next htree guys...

Freddie Freeman, Braves: While Espinosa has sputtered in the second half, Freeman's just gotten better.
his home run rate has dropped, but his other stats are better since the All-Star break. The first baseman is hitting .295/.355/.462 with 18 homers and 67 RBI to go along with 30 doubles. Freeman will turn 22 next week, but already looks like a polished big leaguer, not just at the plate, but also in the field at first base.

Craig Kimbrel, Braves: Last year the American League's top rookie was a closer that took his team to the World Series -- the Braves hope it's their turn for that this season. Kimbrel leads the majors with 43 saves and hasn't allowed a run in his last 38 games, dating back to June 11. The power right-hander has struck out 115 batters in just 69 2/3 innings, walking just 26. As good as Neftali Feliz was last season, Kimbrel's already been better this year. Feliz recorded 40 saves and struck out 71 in 69 1/3 innings with a 2.73 ERA. Kimbrel bests him in all those categories, with an ERA (1.55) more than a run lower than Feliz had in his Rookie of the Year campaign.

Vance Worley, Phillies: On most teams it's not saying much to say a rookie has solidified himself as the team's No. 4 starter -- but this is the Phillies of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, three of the game's best. Worley's looked every bit like he belongs with that group. The 23-year-old right-hander is 11-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 18 starts and two relief appearances. He also has 96 strikeouts in 110 1/3 innings. If anyone is going to challenge the two Braves, it's the Phillie -- which is only fitting.

So who do you have? Let us know in the comments your pick for the NL's top rookie.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 7:17 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 12:05 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 8, 2011 2:30 am

NL East has league's best rookies

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Since: Oct 7, 2006
Posted on: September 9, 2011 5:38 pm

NL East has league's best rookies

Kimbrel should win it, dude is lights out. Worley should be a close second comfortably ahead of Freeman.   Freeman is a nice player, but not ROY material, especially with the other two in the mix

Since: Aug 2, 2010
Posted on: September 9, 2011 4:10 pm

NL East doesn't have all the best rookies

Cubs 2B Darwin Barney and SD LHP Cory Luebke both deserve to be in the top 5, though Kimbrel is the clear leader at this point. Worley and Freeman probably the others in the top 5. Espinosa played his way out of the top 5.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: September 9, 2011 3:18 pm

NL East has league's best rookies

There can only be one winner & I agree with mikeyfan.I have Kimbrel slightly ahead of Freeman with Worley slightly ahead of both Braves.

As for the Braves lineup next year, Prado should spend a lot of time playing 3b.The only sure thing next year is Chipper Jones will spend time on the DL at least once.Prado has put together a decent season & has been the go to guy for the Braves this year.IMO he's as underated as LoMo is overated.

Since: Sep 24, 2010
Posted on: September 9, 2011 1:22 pm

NL East has league's best rookies

 Mikeyfan, have no fear Kimbrel is so filthy good that  you don't have to worry about him "splitting votes".  If he doesn't win the award I'd be shocked.

Since: Sep 19, 2008
Posted on: September 9, 2011 1:14 pm

NL East has league's best rookies

If the Braves trade for a power bat in the OF then at least two of those prospects will be traded.  Mark my words when I say that Jair and Hanson will not BOTH be traded.  Tim will be back as well as Beachy.  If we can unload Lowe on anyone then that will free up two spots max but the chances of that happening are slim to none.  Minor is first in line to take a spot in the rotation and he will get his chance next year since I believe that the Braves will trade one of their current starters along with one of the Big 4 in the minors for some sort of OF or SS.  Maybe even both.

The wild card in all of this is Chipper.  If Chipper decides not to retire after this year (which I seriously doubt he retires considering he is still playing at a high level) then that puts us in a bind next year unless we move Prado to short.  The way I see it our only position of need coming into next year is a SS.  Either move Prado there and trade for a LF or just find a trade for a SS.  I don't mean a Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez type of SS but an upgrade offensively from Gonzo.

Why not inquire with the Yankees about the availability of Nunez?  He wouldn't break the farm system and the Yankees are starved for starting pitching.  I wouldn't mind a one for one deal involing Delgado or maybe even Medlen as much as I want to keep him around.  Then let Chipper play out his contract through 2012 and see where we are.

Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: September 9, 2011 11:11 am

NL East has league's best rookies

gopack, as I stated it is hypothical at best. 

Your right, about Lowe but I can see the Braves moving either Jurrgens or Hanson or both next season for another power bat and maybe bullpen help or leaving the outfield alone and picking up another SS. 

But when you look at the Braves and all their young pitching, including Jurrgens and Hanson you have to ask if you trade one what do you need in return. 

I mean look at the outfield.  Heyward, Bourn and Prado.  Ok, you get a power bat to put in Left Field and where do you put Prado, SS?  Your not going to replace Freddy at First, Uggla at Second or Chipper at third, so that leaves SS.  If you go out and get a SS who do you get?  I mean idealy, You'd trade Jurrgens, Hanson and maybe Minor or Delgado for Troy Tulowitzki, but you know that isn't going to happen. 

I know a lot of people are down on Gonzales at SS but when you think about it, who are you really going to get that is that much better without giving up the farm.  Gonzo is going to hit you around 15 homers, bat around 250 and save you a ton of runs with his fielding prowness.  You could try to get a Reyes or Ramirez but do you really want that disruptive force in your dugout?  That and the cost would be too high. 

If you wait a year and leave Teheran and Delgato in the Minors you'd have to leave Mike Minor there two as you'd have both Hanson and Jurrgens again next season.  And Mike may be out of options and I don't think the Braves would want to release him or loose him via the Rule 4 draft.  So you put him in the Bullpen? 

The following season if Chipper Retires, you move Prado to 3rd (I don't believe the Uggla to 3rd rumor) and then trade one or both for a Power Hitting Outfielder. 

But no matter how you want to look at it,  The Braves are in a great position for the future.  They have numerous young players that can keep the team at or near the top for at least another decade or more and that is a great thing to see if your a Braves fan. 

Since: Sep 19, 2008
Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:47 am

NL East has league's best rookies

And then look at what may be the Braves starting pitching next season:

Tim Hudson
Brandon Beachy
Mike Minor
Julio Teheran
Randall Delgado 

with Kris Medlen on deck to replace any one of those pitchers in a second.

I'm a huge Braves fan and this rotation is laughable at this point.  No way the Braves have that rotation set up next year.  Lowe is still owed $14 million next year and unless we can find a taker for that salary (which it will have to be a desperate team at next year's trade deadline in my opinion) we will be stuck with him.

Ever heard of Tommy Hanson or Jair Jurrjens?  One of those guys might be moved in the offseason (probably Jair because of his arbitration status) but not both.  Plus coming into the year with Minor, Teheran and Delgado all in their first full season doesn't spark a lot of confidence.  This is more of what it will look like next year.

Tim Hudson
Tommy Hanson
Derek Lowe/Jair Jurrjens (one will be moved and hopefully both but Lowe's contract is a problem)
Brandon Beachy
Mike Minor

Vizcaino will be in the pen.
Delgado will spend another year in the minors and so will Teheran and will be ready to take over for Lowe when he departs.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or