Cubs fans, I like your team and your young talent Kris Bryant. I’ve admired your new manager for many years. In fact, I’m excited for your run. But there’s one award you guys don’t get this season, and that’s National League Rookie of the Year.
Before we even begin discussing statistics, I want to be clear why Matt Duffy is the NL ROY.
Simply put, he is the Rookie of the Year because among all rookies Matt Duffy has the most command of baseball’s five tools:
1) Hitting for Power
2) Hitting for Average
3) Fielding Ability
4) Throwing Ability
Hitting for power among national league rookies belongs to Kris Bryant. It’s undeniable.
And if you can’t think deeper than that one aspect of the game, I can see why you might think Bryant should be the ROY. Bryant has more HRs, more RUNS, RBI and a better OPS, SLG (slugging percentage) and fWAR.
But back on August 20th, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Corcoran in a piece called Awards Watch had more to say about measuring the two players with adjusted stats.
“Based on the raw stats … you might think Duffy should rank behind Kris Bryant … but Duffy’s stats are depressed because he plays in an extreme pitchers’ park.
“Looking at park-adjusted OPS+, the two are in a virtual tie in terms of production (Duffy is at 125 to Bryant’s 128, with 100 being league average).
After power-hitting, it looks considerably less convincing for Kris Bryant as a candidate for NL rookie of the year.
Hitting for average belongs to Matt Duffy. He has more doubles, more triples, more hits, and a better average by almost 40 points than Bryant. But it’s Duffy’s average with RISP that should surprise and enlighten Cubs fans.
Avg. with RISP Matt Duffy .378
Avg. with RISP Kris Bryant .311
It shows Duffy to have been as clutch as Bryant. In fact, despite lagging in RBI, perhaps more so.
In terms of base running, Duffy has shown an awareness rarely seen by rookies. Recently scoring from first with heads-up alertness on a deep single, The Duffman consistently shows a keen knowledge of base running and how to use his speed. Duffy has never been caught stealing.
To his credit Kris Bryant has stolen four more bases, but he has been caught stealing four times and, like all power hitters, is much more susceptible to striking out.
Duffy’s better efficiency at the plate is clear in a comparison of the two young men’s walk-to-strikeout ratio.
While displaying massive power and great clutch-hitting skills, Kris Bryant is not performing defensively like Duffy, and what the Duffman has done is what puts him over the top.
Bryant has played outfield in 26 games, preventing him from having to play position defense. But as a result Bryant and Duffy have each played 123 games in the infield allowing a fair comparison … and statistics are clear.
When playing 3rd base, Bryant has committed 17 errors – seven more than Duffy at that position, and five more than Duffy overall. Bryant’s fielding percentage is 20 points lower than Duffy’s. Duffy’s dWAR exceeds Bryant’s significantly.
Corcoran agreed, back on August 20th:
“Beyond that, Duffy is a better fielder at the same position and has arguably contributed more with his legs (he has taken the extra base 12 times to Bryant’s nine, reached on an error eight times to Bryant’s four and is five-for-five in stolen base attempts, while Bryant is 12-for-15).”
Both these young men have been great rookies this year. Their clutch performances, poise and consistency over the course of the season have been a blast to watch and root for.
But since a decision has to be made, and towering home runs aren’t a single reason to award the Rookie of the Year in the National League, it should be awarded to Matt Duffy for his fullness as a player and for his impressive command of the five tools of baseball.