Sportsnet Magazine, a top publication in Canada, provided Naoko Asano’s account of their writers’ choices for an All-Rookie team for the mid-way point of the 2015 season. Both the National and American League rookies were combined to form one team of eight position players and six pitchers. As with all debatable lists made by sportswriters, this list will likely be chewed upon by baseball fans everywhere. However, it’s worth noting the names on the list, including two Red Sox players to make it: Blake Swihart and Eduardo Rodriguez.
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2015 All-Rookie Position Players:
- Catcher – Blake Swihart (Red Sox)
- First Base – Maikel Franco (Phillies)
- Second Base – Devon Travis (Blue Jays)
- Third Base – Kris Bryant (Cubs)
- Shortstop – Carlos Correa (Astros)
- Left Field – Billy Burns (Athletics)
- Center Field – Joc Pederson (Dodgers)
- Right Field – Steven Souza (Rays)
2015 All-Rookie Pitching Staff:
- Lance McCullers Jr. (Astros)
- Chris Heston (Giants)
- Nate Karns (Rays)
- Noah Syndergaard (Mets)
- Eduardo Rodriguez (Red Sox)
- Roberto Osuna (Blue Jays)
The writing staff also provided their National League and American League rookie of the year votes. They voted Pederson as the NL winner, with Bryant the runner-up, and Correa as the AL winner, with Osuna as the runner-up.
Swihart was said to be “still adjusting to hitting in the majors, but is a standout behind the plate.” The reasoning behind Rodriguez’s vote was that he was “the first pitcher since 1914 to allow one or no runs in six of his first eight games.”
These decisions were made shortly after the mid-way point, so the numbers have changed for all of these players. Let’s see how Swihart and Rodriguez stack up against the top rookies, now.
Swihart has had to start 46 games for Boston, with injuries to two catchers, when he was only expected to be playing Triple-A games, learning how to call a game and develop his bat for next season in the majors. With the bat, Swihart has one home run and 15 RBIs with a slash line of .238/.273/.327. There are three catchers ahead of him in terms of batting average, including Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs who leads all rookies with a .348 average in just 25 games. A fairly equal sample-sized comparison to Swihart is James McCann of the Detroit Tigers hitting .278 in 74 games.
In the field, Swihart has made two errors in 401.2 innings, catching 10 out of 34 base stealers. To put those numbers into perspective, Swihart ranks 39th for all catchers, veterans and rookies, with a .706 stolen-base percentage. McCann ranked much better in ninth place with a percentage of .550. The difference looks gigantic, but it’s simply a matter of catching a few more base runners.
Aug 6, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (52) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Rodriguez has a record of 6-4 with a 4.17 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 73.1 innings. These numbers put him tied for fourth with seven other rookie starters for total wins. For rookies with at least 13 or more starts, Rodriguez was sixth in ERA, with the leader being Syndergaard (2.66). Rodriguez also was in 11th place for strikeouts, behind the leader Karns (113).
Numbers alone do not tell the whole story. There was immense pressure placed on both of these gentlemen to not only replace veteran starters but to do it in one of the biggest and toughest fan markets in baseball. When you screw up in Boston, for any of their sports franchises, you are definitely going to hear about it.
Rodriguez had to step up when the Red Sox starting rotation was in shambles (not that it’s any different now) and he had to make a go of it, with little run support or other pitching options available. Swihart wasn’t even in the plans for this season, at least by any serious thoughts by Boston’s execs. Yet, Christian Vazquez and Ryan Hanigan went down with injuries and the Fenway faithful had to put their belief in a young prospect, instead.
Judging by the numbers, it looks like McCann should be the favorite if the rookie team was chosen again. One could make the argument that Rodriguez’s performances in his wins outweigh many of the faults in his losses, at least in terms of this list. However, with the intangibles in the equation one can also see why they were chosen in the first place.
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