Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals had an excellent rookie season this year. No one would argue with that. And with his young age, he is only 19, and incredible talent there is every chance that he will go on to have a great career in MLB. No one would argue with that either, though it is speculative. For his excellent season this year Harper was awarded the National League Rookie of the Year award by the Baseball Writers Association of America. No one would argue that this did happen, but I will argue that it should not have.
I like Harper as a player; he plays the game in the right spirit and it is always special to see such a young talent. But the problem is that as good as his season was this year it wasn’t the best in the National League. For me, that honour goes to Wilin Rosario of the Colorado Rockies. Rosario led all NL rookies in home runs with 28 to Harper’s 22. He led all NL rookies in RBIs with 71; Harper came in fourth with 59. Rosario also led all NL rookies in OPS with .843; Harper again came in fourth with his .817 OPS. Rosario’s .270 batting average was exactly the same as Harper’s. The home run and RBI numbers are of particular note because Rosario put them up having actually played twenty fewer games than Harper. For all this, Rosario was awarded with just one first place vote for Rookie of the Year.
There is absolutely no doubt that Rosario had a better rookie season than Bryce Harper did and the only fight Rosario should have had for Rookie of the Year was Wade Miley. Miley is a pitcher and it is so hard to compare the efforts of pitchers and position players. I would still give the award to Rosario because I don’t think Miley’s 16-11 record and 3.33 ERA, coming as they do in the National League, are quite as notable as Rosario’s numbers. But it is a very close thing either way and I think it would be difficult to come up with a convincing argument for one over the other.
Rosario certainly deserved better than the one first place vote he got. Harper may go on to have the better career, but that is not what the Rookie of the Year award is supposed to measure. Just look at Angel Berroa. Sadly, Rosario was no doubt hurt by being from a smaller team who had a losing season in Colorado. It happens less often with the major awards, the BBWAA are usually better at giving everyone a fair shake than most others, but this is still not the first time that a team’s effort has caused an individual to be overlooked. It’s not right, but it is unlikely to change any time soon.