There’s nothing wrong with Chris Coghlan and Andrew Bailey as Rookie of the Year winners.
But in a year with so many outstanding rookies, my question was different. And, as it turns out, so was the answer.
Taking all six players who received Rookie of the Year votes in the American League and all five who received first-place votes in the National League, I polled a group of scouts who watched each league and asked them which player they would most like to have for the future. Put another way, if all these players were available in a draft today, who’s the first pick?
The answers: Tommy Hanson of the Braves in the NL, Brett Anderson of the A’s in the AL.
Neither vote was unanimous. All the voters agreed that this is the best class of rookies baseball has seen in years.
“If you had all 11, you’d have a pretty good team,” one scout said.
The choice in the NL, another said, came down to “one guy who has a chance to be a 20-game winner [Hanson], and one who has a chance to lead the league in hitting [Coghlan].”
And in the AL, it came down to two potential top-of-the-rotation starters (Anderson and Detroit’s Rick Porcello), an infielder with real offensive potential (Gordon Beckham of the White Sox) and a shortstop with great defensive skills who shows signs of being able to hit (Elvis Andrus of the Rangers).
Oh, and don’t forget Bailey, the guy who actually won.
“He has a closer mentality, and closer stuff,” one scout said.
The choices here were Hanson, in a close vote over Coghlan and Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, and Anderson, over Porcello, Andrus and Beckham.
Why Anderson, who finished fifth in the actual Rookie of the Year voting?
“This guy is a special left-handed starter, with a breaking ball like Steve Carlton,” one of the scouts said. “Every time out, he has a chance to throw a no-hitter. That’s how good his stuff is. His breaking ball is unhittable at times.”
And yet, he wasn’t even a unanimous pick.
“If Andrus learns how to hit,” one of the scouts said, “he might be better than all of them.”