Pence was about as solid a third-place finisher as you might have.
But how about second-place finisher Troy Tulowitzki? Only two SBNation bloggers out of 21 voting omitted Tulowitzki from their ballots, and yours truly was one of them.
I had voted Braun-Loney-Pence in that order, and turns out that Loney only got one other vote besides mine.
Given the circumstances, it's natural to wonder whether I'm looking silly here. No-one wants to look like a fool, you know.
I underestimated Tulowitzki's plate appearances. After using a similar run from Taveras in making my ROY case for Willy T only two years ago, I basically disregarded the facts that Tulo made his club out of Spring Training, then kept the starting job--and actually became a team leader--throughout the long and winding season.
And of course there is the defense for which the man is justly famed. Tulowitzki led NL shortstops in fielding percentage and range factor in his rookie campaign. These are all certainly impressive accomplishments.
Yet looked at another way, I really don't think I made a mistake with Loney. Only 11 NL rookies had as many as 300 plate appearances; if you set the bar at 400 to exclude Loney, the field narrows to just seven.
I obviously erred in not giving Tulo enough credit for his nearly 700 plate appearances. But do we really want to make them a requirement?
Ryan Braun--who had the undeniable OPS--was called up from Nashville in late May, while Loney was called up from Las Vegas almost 3 weeks later. These decisions--made from a bunch of factors having nothing to do with each player's talent--resulted in Braun ending up with something like 110 extra plate appearances, and all the extra counting stats that you might expect. If you think about it, neither player really had much control over that kind of thing.
Now of course Braun had the better rate stats, too, but my point is that keeping Loney out of the discussion seems kind of arbitrary.
Then again, if I reassure myself of the viability of picking Loney, and I want to include Tulo because of the whole season-long thing, I'm left with the necessity of dropping Hunter Pence from my ballot.
So there you have it: my ballot was perfect, after all.