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Rookies of the Following Year

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Well, I can't really blame the BBWAA for picking Chris Coghlan, the lone standout hitter in a year filled with pitchers who were excellent for half of a season. Among players whose names we at VEB habitually remember he might have been the most underrated of the SBN picks. McCutchen probably had the better year, but much of our evidence to that effect is locked up in Coghlan's awful UZR (and, to be fair, +/-.)

He'd never played left before 2009—he was blocked at second by Dan Uggla, which says something about either Coghlan's infield defense or Florida's decision-making process—so it's plausible that he was really ten runs worse than the average left fielder, but it's hard for me to imagine a young corner outfielder who doesn't hate baseball doing that much damage. Uggla's probably done in Florida, so we might never know just how terrible Chris Coghlan was. But in the infield that .390 OBP will make up for a lot of it. 

But he and the AL choice, Andrew Bailey, illustrate this year's BBWAA thought process pretty well. Both leagues were stocked with good candidates who were, superficially, pretty similar, and difficult to distinguish, let alone rank. In the National League there was a run on pitchers who threw about half a season's worth of games with lovely ERAs; in the AL stood Elvis Andrus and Rick Porcello, wunderkinds who put together competent but rarely spectacular seasons at young ages. To deal with the matter of separating these tightly matched competitors, the AL went with something completely different. Neither pick is bad, but they're both... a little weird. 

Who is the Cardinals' rookie of 2010? When in doubt, I usually cop out and say "a relief pitcher"; nobody takes a job as a regular without game-changing injuries or a four-year Rasmus-Watch ordeal, and the surprise starting pitchers usually take a while to worm themselves into things, J.A. Happ style, but Mike Crudale, Kyle McClellan and company can strike without warning and earn a high-leverage job by June. A position player coming off a terrible year in the minors probably needs to right himself for a full season before he sees significant playing time, but Francisco Samuel is always ten good innings away from having Turned a Corner. 

If it weren't for David Freese, 2010 would be a great year for the Some Reliever Gambit; not only is the Cardinals' relief corps worrying at best, there's no one candidate ready to step into a major role. Last year we had Motte, and the year before Perez; this year there's Eduardo Sanchez? Fernando Salas? Casey Mulligan? 

So my question, with Freese the current favorite for 2010, is this: Who'll be the Cardinals Rookie of the Year in 2011? Sanchez is probably a good pick, but with the Cardinals seemingly prepared to go short-term for the rotation in 2010, my choice—boring, in fitting with this player's skill-set—is Lance Lynn.