Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Baseball Post

I was talking about Buster Posey last know, with any luck, I'm gonna be talking about Buster Posey quite often.  Anyway, I mentioned that he was the best Giants rookie hitter since Thompson and Clark: quite true!  This week, the question will be about those years in between, 1987 through 2009.

So that's twenty-three years.  In all that time, how many Giants hitters received any votes at all for Rookie of the Year?  Not first place votes -- any votes at all?  That would be: none.

Sort of!  There's a loophole guy, although even then we have to go all the way back to 1989.  In that year, Charlie Hayes finished 5th in the ROY balloting.  Don't remember Charlie Hayes from the 1989 Giants?  That's OK; he appeared in all of three games before the trade to the Phillies, where he earned his ROY votes. 

So that's it.  1987 through 2009, a total wipe out. 

But wait, you say; ROY votes don't tell you everything.  There are two writers who vote per NL team, and they have just three slots.  There are usually between six and twelve players who receive votes, including pitchers.  So maybe the Giants have had some rookies who don't quite rise to the top, but at least are contributing.

Hmmm...fortunately, we have another award that helps answer that one.  Since 1991, Greg Spira has run the Internet Baseball Awards; since 1996, it's been hosted by Baseball Prospectus.  Voting is (I believe) open to all comers, and from a small start it's now grown to a bit over 4000 ballots last year.  With all those voters (and the same three spots on each ballot), there are far more players who receive votes, in recent years between 40 and 60 players each year.  If we leave aside the pre-BP years, how have Giants hitters done?

Well...terribly.  The best-ever finish by a Giants hitter is a tie: Pablo Sandoval and Armando Rios.  Each of them finished...18th.  Rios actually received two first place votes, and Sandoval got one.  Over 1996-2009, the only other Giants hitter to draw a 1st place vote (and, you know, anyone can vote for any player for any reason, and we're talking about 4000 voters recently) was some goof who voted for Lance Niekro, who finished 21st overall as a 1B with ~300 PAs and a 94 OPS+. 

There was one other highlight: if we go all the way back to the tiny balloting of 1991, someone (Gary Huckabay? I'm guessing) put Darrin Lewis at the top of his or her ballot, which put Lewis 6th overall. 

Beyond that, however, a whole bunch of guys have finished worse than Niekro at 21st.  I was going to name names, but you know what?  It's just too pathetic to think about.  Calvin Murray, tied for 28th.  Jason Elliot, 28th.  Yorvit Torreabla, tied for 34th.  And others like that.  And then there are the careers those guys went on to have.  The best?  Sandoval, Feliz, Lewis...uh, can I have Charlie Hayes?  That's about it...Rajai Davis or Ramon Martinez is probably next best, unless it's Nate Schierholtz, who managed to receive a handful of votes in two different years. 

I can't imagine any other team has done worse.

I'd much rather focus on the 2010 team, with a real, honest-to-goodness ROY candidate. 


  1. I think you're getting at a very good point that could use a little context. Although the Giants did a remarkably poor job developing hitters for the period in question, they actually did develop a couple- just not as rookies. Between The Thrill and Posey, the two names that come to mind are Bill Mueller and Rich Aurilia. Both were brought along slowly, and were only established at their respective positions after a couple of platoon years in their early 20s. That said, Mueller actually hit very well in his rookie campaign of 1996, but didn't have enough ABs to qualify for real ROY votes (which could prove to be the Achilles heel for Posey's ROY campaign, as he wasn't brought up to the majors until well into May).

    I think it's a two-part issue: not only did the Giants have a farm system that generally failed to develop young hitters, the organization refused to give meaningful at bats to the talented young position players it had. (Re: leaving Buster Posey in Fresno until May.) Hopefully last year's Pablo Sandoval experiment sparked a greater willingness to let the youth in.

    Incidentally, Matt Williams should also be technically included in the discussion, as he was a contemporary of Clark's. Williams came up in 1987, though he didn't start making contact until 1990. And who's this Jason Elliot character? I'm assuming you mean Mr. April of 2005, Jason Ellison. Thanks for the great post, baseball blogging is an excellent complement to congressional power discussions!

  2. This is a plain blog about politics, right? So why do I care about what you have to say (and say, and say, and say some more) about baseball or movies?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?