There is some stiff competition in the National League this year for Rookie of the Year: Buster Posey, Jason Heyward, Starlin Castro, Gaby Sanchez, Tyler Colvin, Jamie Garcia, and Chris Johnson.
Heyward and Posey are the two top names in the media at the moment. Sanchez offensively should be in the conversation but he is a step below the other two and plays a less premium position. Castro does play a premium position but isn't hitting as well as the others and has struggled defensively. Colvin has hit the most homeruns, but has stuck out quite a bit and lacks on base skills.
On the pitching side Jamie Garcia is having a very good season, but it's very difficult for a pitcher to win the Rookie of the Year award with so many outstanding hitters. Dontrelle Willis was the last pitcher to win the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2003. Scott Podsednik was second in voting.
Finally our boy CJ, who like Sanchez should be in the conversation but is a step below offensively, and has had his own issues defensively. Meaning Johnson's chances of bringing home the hardware are very slim, unless he absolutely goes nuts over the remaining two weeks of the season. Even then Posey and Heyward have the advantage of being in the spotlight due to their teams being in contention for a playoff spot.
The question then becomes, how does Chris Johnson stack up against some of the other Astro Rookie of the Year candidates in the last 10 years?
After the jump a look at the Rookie of the Year candidates for the Astros since 2001.
Roy Oswalt the guy whose first name is Rookie of the Year made his MLB Debut on May 6, against the Montreal Expos in relief. He wound up pitching all of May in relief before getting his first start on June 2, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went six innings, allowing one earned run while striking out four, collecting his first win as a starter. After 28 games, 20 starts, Roy posted a 14-3 record with 141.2 innings pitched, and 144 strikeouts. He finished second in the RoY voting to none other than Albert Pujols, who greedily snatched up all the first place votes.
Willy Taveras the roadrunner or as I like to yell at the top of my lunges "Willy T!" Drafted by the Astros in 2003 Rule 5 draft, he was later acquired along with Luke Scott for Jeriome Robertson from the Cleveland Indians. He only took part in 10 games in 2004 for the Astros, before playing 152 in 2005. In 592 at bats Taveras posted a batting line of .291/.325/.341. Not sparkling numbers even for a leadoff hitter, but he did score 82 runs, had 172 hits, and stole 34 bases. Defensively he played very good defense in Minute Maid Parks spacious centerfield. He finished second in RoY voting to Ryan Howard who smacked 22 homeruns in 312 at bats.
Hunter Pence forced the Astros front office to call him up before they had wanted to. He had a good Spring Training and continued to rack after being sent down to the minors to begin the season. Once called up he continued his torrid hitting posting a .322/.360/.539 in 456 plate appearances, smacking 17 long balls, and driving in 69 runs. Defensively he was about average, but that was probably more to do with him spending a majority of his time in centerfield. Unfortunately for Pence he picked the wrong year to bust into the league. In what was quite possibly the closest RoY voting Pence finished third to Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki. Braun won the RoY by 2 points over Tulowitzki.
Chris Johnson has shattered just about everyone's expectations of him coming into this year. For the second year in a row Johnson had a good Spring, unlike 2009 he made the Opening Day roster. He didn't really hit all that well, and eventually ended up on the disabled list after only 8 games. Once he came back and replaced Pedro Feliz he take off. He's hit 10 homeruns, driven in 48 runs, while posting a .322/.350/.507 line in 292 at bats this season. Given another month or two he may of posted numbers similar to Pence, and may be more prominent in the RoY discussion. Defensively he's been well below average. The RoY will probably come down to either Posey or Heyward, but Johnson should get some consideration.
Rookie of the Decade
In the last 10 years the Astros have had some strong considerations for the Rookie of the Year award. Their were some others, not mentioned above, who were given considerations such as Brad Lidge and Jeriome Robertson in 2003. Lidge posted good numbers as a reliever but only had one save. Robertson had 15 wins which was one more than Willis but had a 5.10 ERA. With all the bashing on the state of the Minor League system having three players in the top 3 RoY voting, and three more in consideration, in the last 10 years is certainly a positive that can be drawn upon.
Since I know putting up a poll for this years Rookie of the Year award would award Chris Johnson an unbiased victory, I'll instead ask you the wonderful readers of TCB to vote on who is the Astros RoY for the last 10 years.
Remember we're only looking at the candidates first year in the league, not their entire body of work.
Willy T didn't produce Pence or Johnson type of numbers, but he played stellar defense and was a terror on the base paths. Pence forced the front office to let him mash at the Major League level. Johnson doesn't have nearly the at bats of the other two but he has breathed some life into an otherwise stagnant offense. Oswalt not only came up and set the rookie mark for wins in 2001, but also finished fifth in the Cy Young award.
Who is your Rookie of the Year for the last 10 years?