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Daisuke, Rookie of the Year (?).

So this article is interesting. HT to YFSF.

What can we take from this? Well Schwarz certainly seems to believe that Matsuzaka has the tools to be the Rookie of the Year in 2007. I agree, I suppose. More on the "I suppose" tomorrow.

Who will be Matsuzaka's competition for RoY?

1. Dustin Pedroia

This is a Sox site, and I'm a Sox fan, so of course I'm going to put Pedroia up for consideration. He may, however, be the weakest of the RoY candidates.

  • His strengths: Plate discipline. Better range than Loretta. The kind of guy you'd describe as being a smart ballplayer. Surprising power for his size.
  • His weaknesses: Not a lot of speed. Probably not as steady a 2B as Loretta. Surprising power for his size, but not surprising power. Did not hit well at the ML level, whether due to luck (BABIP) or not hitting the ball hard enough.

2. Delmon Young

You have to wonder if the Devil Rays had an eye on limiting Young's ABs in ML last season in order to preserve his eligibility. Delmon hit well at the ML level, unlike Pedroia.

  • His strengths: Will probably hit for power, average, as well as flashing speed from time to time. He's been compared (in the article in particular) to Gary Sheffield as a player.
  • His weaknesses: Needs to develop plate discipline. Is not described as a hard worker. He's been compared (by me just now) to Gary Sheffield as a person.
3. Matt Garza

Garza, in a lot of systems, would be seen as potentially their best (or second-best) starter. Unfortunately for Garza, he plays for an organization that includes both Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano. Until his stint in Minnesota, he'd never put up a WHIP higher than 1.21 as a professional.

  • His strengths: Keeping the ball in the park. Limiting walks. Striking out batters.
  • His weaknesses: Like any pitching prospect, you're just a prospect until you produce. His peripherals in Minnesota were not fantastic by any means.
4. Brandon Wood

Wood is a prolific power hitter at the MiL level, and has some speed. The Angels could be tempted to try him at 3B (though naturally a SS) if their 3B shuffle (Figgins, McPherson, Quinlan, Hillenbrand) does not produce.

  • His strengths: His power is an asset, and will be above-average whether he plays SS or 3B in the big leagues. He could potentially put up an .850 OPS in the Majors right now, with .900+ not out of the question in his career.
  • His weaknesses: Some scouts don't think he can play SS long-term. Blocked at the ML level by Orlando Cabrera. High strikeout totals.
5. Alex Gordon

This guy is absolutely going to be something special, whether now or later. You know that great young 3B the Nationals have? I don't see why this guy couldn't be better.

  • His strengths: 1.000+ OPS in his first professional season at AA Wichita. Speed. 72 walks in 130 games at AA as well. Power.
  • His weaknesses: "Blocked" by Mark Teahen (who could be moved to corner OF position). Players like Zack Greinke should make the Royals hesitant to play such players at such a young stage in their professional career. Would have to absolutely blow away the competition in ST to get a ML job.
6. Philip Hughes

It's easy to dismiss Yankee fans as hyperbolizing about this guy, but he really is as good as most of them say.

  • His strengths: Scarily, too many to name. He'll also have a high-powered offense backing him up.
  • His weaknesses: He's very young (20) and could stand to spend "some" time in AAA. The Yankee organization is trying to be intelligent and keep his innings and pitch counts down. He may not end up having a large enough impact over the season to be a good candidate. Otherwise, I can't really think of any.
Other notable potential RoYs: Akinori Iwamura, Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Josh Fields, Chicago White Sox. Joel Guzman, Tampa Bay Devil Rays (check the cold plate special in the ESPN article). Jason Botts, Texas Rangers. Luke Hochevar, Kansas City Royals.

All right guys, your thoughts on who his toughest competition will be? Keep in mind potential suspensions (Delmon Young), lack of PT (Wood, Gordon, Hughes), or ineffectiveness at the ML level (Pedroia, Garza). Even with those considerations, it's a tough crowd.