Could it be anyone else besides Tommy Manzella?
Sorry, I hate to bash on Manzo for his poor rookie season. I like him, but he is obviously not the best rookie on this young team. I'm probably in the minority that wants to continue to let him start next year to see if he'll develop since he has some offensive upside as well as defensive upside that he has yet to show.
But, enough apologies and introductions. As we all know and have read so many times on here before, this team experienced a lot of changes and turnover throughout this season and threw out a total of sixteen rookies this year, but really only six played a good portion of the season. Those rookies are Manzo, Jason Castro, Brett Wallace, Angel Sanchez, Wilton Lopez, and good ole Chris Johnson.
After the jump, I'll break down the competition and give out the award.
Coming into the season, there was really only one prospect that the general fan base expected to make a positive impact on this team. They knew Manzo was going to be the man at shortstop and that Chris Johnson was almost ready, but Castro was the one fans were excited about. He came into Spring Training and battled mightily with J.R. Towles (It's weird typing that name, I almost forgot about him) but ultimately lost out and was sent to Triple-A, where he didn't exactly dominate.
I'm not going to sit here and give you a season review for Castro because timmy has already done that here. But, I will go over his value and what he has meant to this team. Offensively, he provided next to nothing. According to Fangraphs, he was 11 runs below average at the plate while Baseball Reference has him at 10.2 below average. Defense was Castro's calling card and he was better but still wasn't anything to write home about according to both sites. Fangraphs has him as 2 runs above replacement while he's 2 runs below replacement according to Baseball Reference. In terms of WAR, only Fangraphs have him above replacement at 0.4 Wins. B-Ref has him at a -0.3. Either way, Castro was simply a replacement-level player.
You already know he isn't getting the award since I threw him under the bus at the beginning of this piece. He was given the job without any real expectations but hopes to at least hold down the position for the year. Well, he didn't do that. As expected, he struggled at the plate, but surprisingly struggled in the field as well. When things actually started looking up for the guy, he goes for an extended stay on the DL which forced the trade for Angel Sanchez, whom he'd never completely relinquish his starting role from.
If you want to read a season review, here's timmy's. Let's take a look at what he did for the Astros this year. Neither site really did him any favors. At -18.2 and -19 runs according to Fangraphs and B-Ref, he was basically the definition of a black-hole in the lineup. On defense, UZR was close to liking him, which allowed him to post -0.3 runs defensively at FanGraphs while DRS gave him the -6 runs on B-Ref. In terms of WAR, FanGraphs have him at -0.6 while the other guys list him as -1.5. He's below replacement, that is for sure.
The one we traded for. The guy who was supposed to just hold it down while Manzo was hurt. The guy that actually took Manzo's job. He was simply a desperation move that actually worked out quite well. Sanchez did better than probably 99.9% expected and stole several fan's hearts as well. He has actually forced many to give up on Manzo.
Timmy's review can be found right here and I'll explore what his value is. Offensively he was worth -6.0 runs according to B-Ref who also had him as a -12 runs in the field. That came up with a WAR of -0.9 according to B-Ref. As far as Fangraphs is concerned, he was -5.2 at the plate and -7.8 defensively. His WAR was a bit more friendly -0.1. He was basically a replacement player as well, albeit a more valuable one than Manzo, in less playing time.
Wallace wasn't actually in the Oswalt trade, but he might as well have been a part of it. He was immediately picked up in a trade with a piece from the Oswalt trade. He didn't even get an at-bat in Round Rock before getting called up to the majors to replace Lance Berkman, and sadly disappointed this season. He has a lot of talent that he has yet to show in the majors, but still wasn't what you would call a valuable piece on the field this season.
Wallace hadn't been around enough to get a review during our prospect week so he doesn't have a story to get linked to. But, he was around long enough to accumulate a -5.8 and -6 runs at the plate. The former third baseman flashed his glove at first well enough to be a positive 3.3 runs according to FanGraphs and a positive 3 runs at B-Ref. Although, his offense prevented him from posting a positive WAR, he was exactly zero wins at FanGraphs and -0.1 at B-Ref. Given his very small amount of playing time, replacement level isn't really all that bad.
If there could be one for pitchers, Lopez would win it outright without any trouble. Mark Melancon wasn't around long enough to impress more than Lopez, but even if he was, it wouldn't be enough. Lopez was arguably the best reliever on this this year and will probably be a mainstay in this bullpen for several years to come. Here is Timmy's review of Lopez's season.
WAR isn't exactly the best way to evaluate pitchers, but I'm using it anyway. He posted a WAR of 1.3 which is quite good. That WAR total is worth about $5.3M which is Brandon Lyon type money. Let's just say, he was a heck of a rookie.
CJ is the obvious choice for this award If you want to debate otherwise...you're wrong! He was rewarded a spot on the opening day roster for his awesome spring and thanks to Berkman starting off on the DL. But, after his demotion and recovery from a pulled intercostal muscle, he tore up the Pacific Coast League and forced a call-up. Once he was back on the big league roster, he earned his playing time and tore up the majors as much as you could expect from a rookie.
Here is the season review on CJ. Almost all of his value came at the plate, which is evident by his 10 runs above replacement. Unfortunately, CJ looked like a rookie in the field and botched well above his fair share of plays. FanGraphs has him at -8.6 runs and B-Ref has him at -5 runs defensively. That defense dropped his WAR to a 1.6 and 1.7, which is easily tops of all of our rookies.
So, congratulations to Chris Johnson who is the Astros Rookie of the Year. He definitely earned it with his play on the field. He even earned some recognition from national media on his peformance as a rookie, including being thrown into the NL ROY talk a few times as Clack discussed in the story. CJ was even named to Yahoo.com's All Rookie Team, so who am I to argue with Yahoo?
Here's to you, Chris Johnson, your monster home runs, and your Rookie of the Year Award.