I’m about to do something many baseball circles would consider blasphemous. I’m about to discuss the importance of wins without entering the debate for AL Cy Young. Instead, I’m talking about the NL Rookie of the Year Award. The Houston Astros have had a rough year and now sit at 69-75. Their magic number at 6 (games to .500). I’d hate to see where that number might be without rookie third baseman Chris Johnson.
Chris Johnson is currently hitting .318/.349/.482 with 29 runs, 8 homeruns, and 43 RBI in 274 at-bats since being inserted as Houston’s everyday third baseman June 22. Since that day the Astros have gone 45-36, 9 games over .500. Prior to June 22? 24-39 or 15 games under .500. And that was when they had Oswalt and Berkman. Jason Heyward, Buster Posey, and Jaime Garcia are all having fantastic rookie campaigns but no one has helped their team more than Johnson. And if you look at their teams, which has exceeded expectations the most? Is anyone surprised by the Braves or Giants this season? Fans are surely surprised by the Cardinals but not in a good way. On the other hand, the Astros going 69-75, much less 45-36, is a huge accomplishment far exceeding the expectations anyone had for a team many thought was the worst in baseball the first two months of the season.
Chris Johnson has had a fantastic season and while I don’t think a player should be rewarded for the futility of their teammates, Johnson deserves a much more serious look by voters than he’s getting.
Afterall, wins are what really matter.