MLB Rookie of the Year: Is it a solid success predictor?

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(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

The MLB Rookie of the Year awards are coveted but rarely expected by new players. How good a predictor of future great success are they?

Well, now that we’re all stuck with no baseball of any sort for a bit – if not all summer – we have to address the eternal question of whether or not a decent predictor of highest-level success in major league baseball is the MLB Rookie of the Year award.

That’s easy, you might say – it’s obviously mixed. For every Derek Jeter, there has to be at least one Marty Cordova.


Hmm. Everybody knows about Jeter, but how great, or awful, in fact, was Marty Cordova? Better yet, where did Marty Cordova play and when?

(Minnesota Twins fans can tell you, and so can fans in a few other cities. They’ll also tell you Cordova hit over .300 twice, and the really observant ones will tell you he made over $16 million in his career, which was truncated by back injuries.)

How about currently, though? How much is the modern MLB Rookie of the Year award worth even paying attention to?

Let’s take a look at the last decade, minus the past two seasons’ winners because, obviously, it’s really early to say anything about the 2018 and ’19 ROYs, with all due respect to Pete Alonzo.

2008 – In the year the Phillies beat the Rays for their second-ever World Series title, the MLB Rookie of the Year prizes were taken by Evan Longoria, then of those AL Rays, and Geovany Soto, then of the Cubs. Soto also came in 13th in the MVP vote that year and went to the All-Star game. Longoria came in 11th in the NL and was an All-Star.

And my daughter started calling Longoria “Eva” when he showed up in the World Series against her Phillies. She was ten.

2009 – The winners were Chris Coghlan in the NL and Andrew Bailey. Coghlan hit an eye-popping .321 but never came within 50 hits of his 162 that year. Bailey, the first pitcher in this group, was a two-time All-Star and a relief pitcher his entire career.

2010 – The ROYs this year were a pitcher, the second relief pitcher in a row picked in the AL, and a very good catcher: Neftali Feliz and Buster Posey. Feliz retired before he was 30.

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