Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why Miguel Sano won't be Rookie of the Year.

The future is now: Byron Buxton (25) and Miguel Sano (22)
before a game in Baltimore last week.
Miguel Sano hit another home run Tuesday night. That makes 12 dingers in 45 major league games for the 22-year-old.

It's been an impressive performance, even considering how anticipated (hyped) a prospect he is. And still, he has no chance at winning the Rookie of the Year Award.

That will assuredly go to Carlos Correa, the Houston shortstop. Correa's got a bit more than 100 plate appearances more than Sano, so his counting stats are ahead of the Minnesota DH, even though his slash stats -- batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage -- lag.

The long and the short(stop) of it:
Carlos Correa (left) is 6-4; his double play
partner, Jose Altuve, is is 5-6.
But Correa is also a shortstop, and a good one. You've got to give credit for playing a premium defensive position. Sano is primarily a designated hitter, which isn't completely his fault, but in terms of their defensive value, there's no way he matches Correa.

Correa, as you may recall, is the Puerto Rican the Astros took No. 1 in the draft the year the Twins landed Byron Buxton. The general consensus at the time was that Correa wasn't a bad choice for 1-1, but that Buxton was the better prospect and that the Astros went with Correa as part of a plan to game the new bonus pool system.

The Astros did game the system -- Correa signed for considerably less than Buxton did -- but Correa may have been the better pick anyway. A lot of scouts figured that Correa would "outgrow" shortstop and wind up a third baseman. That hasn't happened, and within a week or so of his midseason callup, there were people calling Correa the best shortstop in the American League.

And you know something? If Correa isn't the best shortstop in the league, another rookie -- Francisco Lindor of Cleveland -- might be. Lindor doesn't have the power of Correa, much less Sano, but he certainly hits enough to help a lineup, and he is a marvelous fielder.

Baseball Reference credits Correa with 3.0 WAR, Lindor with 2.1 and Sano with "just" 1.6. Part of that comes from the advantage in playing time the two shortstops have, and part of it comes from defense. But no matter how you slice it, Correa and Lindor have to stand ahead of Sano in the rookie rankings.

Which is no knock on Sano, certainly. This has been a golden year for midseason callups, when a guy like Eddie Rosario has no realistic chance of appearing on any ROY ballots.

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