Should Danny Salazar be a Rookie of the Year Finalist?
With the recent release of the nominees for the various postseason awards, the Indians were well represented. Well, better represented than in years past. Terry Francona is a nominee for the AL manager of the year while Scott Kazmir was named a finalist for the AL comeback player of the year. Despite the representation by the Indians on those lists, one name was surprisingly absent from the awards hoopla, that of course being Danny Salazar. When the list of AL Rookie of the Year finalists was announced, Salazar was absent from a list that included Wil Myers, Chris Archer, and Jose Iglesias. Did Salazar deserve to be a finalist? I surveyed the staff to find out.
Steve Kinsella: It’s justifiable. If I’m looking at the top 3 in the American League there is no way that Danny Salazar topples either Wil Myers or Chris Archer. As for whether he beats Iglesias I’m still upset that Alex Torres of the Rays didn’t beat Iglesias let alone Salazar. He just didn’t log enough innings to really leave an impression and then in many of his starts he was pulled after 4 innings rarely proving that he could wipe out a lineup a 3rd time in a row. It’s a shame that he lost his rookie status this season because next year could be a very special year for him and if he were eligible he’d be far and away the leader in the clubhouse for the 2014 award.
Evan Vogel: Danny Salazar was impressive, but he didn’t factor into enough games or innings. Chris Archer made over 20 starts and Wil Myers was a bat-flippin’ beast, which is exactly why the Rays built a package around him when they traded James Shields last winter. Salazar could do big things, and the world seems to be buying his stuff at the top of the rotation going forward, but he wasn’t the most valuable rookie in the AL in 2013 by a long shot. While the NL was loaded and it’s easy to gripe about the young right-hander being considered as a finalist, the expectations that come along with the award are hard to live with. Let him have a chip on his shoulder if he feels “left out” here. It will go nicely with his 96-100 mph fastball next season.
Ed Carroll: Not really, no. I think, of the three major player awards, ROY is the more subjective one, and Danny Salazar was a huge asset in the Indians making the Wild Card game. That said, the team (rightfully) handled him with kid gloves and he was called up mid-season. MLB and the BWAA tweaked the award formats, releasing a list of three finalists, and I’m unsure if this means they will do away with the fourth/fifth/etc-place votes – which is where I’d likely list Salazar if I had a vote and took these awards seriously. And considering where the AL was in April and May (when Cody Allen – a middle reliever, was being thrown around by some as potential pick simply due to lack of choices), the field actually finished quite strong, thanks in no small part to the Rays call-up of Wil Myers. This all said, even if Salazar had a clear-cut case, I still probably wouldn’t get too upset; I’m far more interested in Salazar having a productive career as a starting pitcher than I would be in anything he did or won in 2013.
Michael Chaney: I would have loved to have seen Danny Salazar as a finalist in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. He was simply dominant in his short time in the majors, posting a 3.12 ERA (that is backed up well by advanced metrics like FIP and xFIP). His BABIP of .298 was very near the league average of .300, meaning that his numbers last year should not be a fluke. He also posted an astonishing K/BB rate of 4.33. All of this adds up to a 1.2 WAR (according to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs) through only approximately 25% of a full season’s worth of innings. However, if Salazar continues to pitch well (which hopefully happens), the accolades will certainly follow.
Would he have won the award? Probably not, especially when you consider Wil Myers (who is my pick to win the award) and everything he brought to the Rays after being called up. Chris Archer is another deserving candidate. However, I do think a compelling argument could be made that Salazar is a better candidate than Tigers SS Jose Iglesias. Iglesias posted a quality line of .303/.349/.386 while playing terrific defense in the majors this year, but his terrific numbers with the Red Sox did not carry over to Detroit, where he hit only .259/.306/.348. Iglesias was also helped by a ridiculously high BABIP of .356, showing that he was extraordinarily lucky this season. After all, he is only a career .257/.307/.314 hitter in the minors, meaning that his numbers with Detroit are more indicative of the player he actually is. Iglesias hit well overall in the majors this season, but is he a better candidate than Salazar? Maybe, maybe not. Salazar’s innings limit probably hurt him (he was often only able to pitch 4 innings or so per start), but he was also dominant over that time.
Overall, I’m fairly confident that Myers will win the award, in which case it doesn’t really matter to me if Salazar was a finalist or not. However, if Iglesias wins the balloting, I’ll probably have more to say about this.
Brian Heise: My first reaction to Danny Salazar being left off the finalist list was to call shenanigans on the whole thing, but after thinking it through the decision makes sense. Salazar had a great season in a vacuum. However, when you compare it to the three finalists the argument for him falls apart. Each of the three made major contributions to their respective teams. Salazar, meanwhile, was limited in his impact thanks largely in part to a strict pitch count of 80 pitches. There were some starts in which he was limited to only four innings. It’s hard to make a true assessment of a starter when he’s seeing batters only once or twice per game. Despite that, Salazar still had a great season and expectations for 2014 should be high as a result.