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

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs to first base after hitting an RBI single during the second inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 31, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs to first base after hitting an RBI single during the second inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 31, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) /

Evaluation

The selection of the above players could be evaluated in a number of ways, but one number included was WAR. We must keep the modernists happy, and once a fan accepts that he’ll never quite understand the granular calculation of WAR, the figure can be seen as not altogether useless.

How do we know this? Because it seems to work in consideration of the great Lou Gehrig, a player no one would dare argue wasn’t a superstar. The gold standard is Gehrig. His career WAR for 17 seasons was 114.1, or an average WAR of 6.71.

If this figure is lined up against Mike Trout’s average annual WAR, one sees the modern player’s figure is 8.08.

Good lord. Is Trout actually better than Gehrig was? We’ll check back in eight years and see, but for the moment, these two figures check each other: Players above 6.71 annually are extraordinarily good.

What other figures can be considered? Let’s take the player’s ROY-year BA or WHIP in relation to his career figure, and add in total career “awards.” Most of these considerations are, of course, fluid since all but five of these 20 players are still playing.

But the job is to say something about how good a predictor the modern ROY award is.

First, the WAR consideration: The leader among position players is clearly Trout. Behind him are the following, among position players – Bellinger (5.77 average annual WAR), Correa (4.90), Judge and Bryant (4.78), Longoria (4.67), Harper (3.98), Posey (3.80), Abreu (3.48), Seager (3.14), Myers (1.39), Soto (0.92), and Coghlan (0.12).

The leader among the pitchers is deGrom (5.92 AAWAR), followed by Fernandez (3.60), Fulmer (3.23), Kimbrel (1.96), Hellickson (1.17), Feliz (0.85), and Bailey (0.73).

And taken all together, what this says – so far – is that position players given ROYs are a bit more likely to turn into superstars or perennial All-Stars such as Trout, deGrom, Correa, Posey, Bryant, and Longoria, with the proviso that designating younger players like Bellinger a repeat All-Star is an iffier proposition.

Bottom line on the WAR consideration: Currently, the MLB Rookie of the Year awards have about a 10 percent chance to indicating a future, undoubted superstar – Trout and deGrom among these 20 players are the examples.

Several players, particularly among the position players, may eventually be seen the way many now view the most important Met and most important Angel.

Are there other considerations that might affect that evaluation now?