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Stacked rookie class overshadows Carlos Rodon

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First-year pitcher receives no votes despite strong finish, but a White Sox teammate shows him how to play the long game

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In leaner years, Carlos Rodon might've had a rookie season worth considering for hardware. He was second among American League rookie pitchers in strikeouts, innings and wins, and third in WAR (either measure), and he finished his season with strong suggestions of future dominance.

In a stacked year like 2015, he didn't earn a single vote.

Carlos Correa won it, of course. Francisco Lindor made it a close second, of course. Miguel Sano took most of the third-place votes, of course. With that kind of triumvirate, isolated votes were going to be few and far between.

Sure enough, the down-ballot weirdness was isolated.

  • Lindor being left off one ballot's top three entirely.
  • Roberto Osuna earning two second-place votes with a good-not-great relief season.
  • Delino DeShields earning a third-place vote.

The other also-rans were in Rodon's position. Billy Burns had a nice season as a center fielder. Horrendous plate discipline aside, Eddie Rosario had a better year than Sano by some measures, but Sano was scarier.

Rodon even had competition as the best rookie pitcher. Lance McCullers put up better peripherals, with his stronger start outweighing Rodon's stronger finish in terms of the WAR valuations. Trevor May had a great FIP year due to his enviable combination of homers, walks and strikeouts. I'd argue that Rodon's season was more exciting than either, but I saw his last 13 starts firsthand, so I could be partial.

Either way, there's no shame in Rodon's game. Looking at previous White Sox rookie seasons, Jose Quintana can claim some similarities for his work in 2012:

  • ERA: Quintana 3.76; Rodon 3.75
  • ERA+: Quintana 113; Rodon 104
  • Innings: Quintana 136.1; Rodon 139.1
  • Record: Quintana 6-6; Rodon 9-6
  • bWAR: Quintana 2.4; Rodon 1.6
  • fWAR: Quintana 1.6; Rodon 2.1

Likewise, Quintana garnered zero votes, and nobody could really complain considering that rookie class of 2012 included Mike Trout, Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes.

Moreover, by either WAR measurement, Quintana finished ninth or 10th among pitchers,  Darvish led the pack, but Jarrod Parker gave him a run for his money, and they were just two of the six pitchers to top 170 innings that year. Quintana didn't stand a chance, especially since Nate Jones gave him a challenge as the best rookie pitcher on the White Sox in 2012

By one measurement or the other, eight different starters outcounted Quintana in WAR. But three years later, Quintana is the one who stands tallest:

G/GS IP W-L ERA ERA+ bWAR fWAR
Jose Quintana 122/119 743.0 33-34 3.46 116 15.3 15.0
Yu Darvish 83/83 545.1 39-25 3.27 128 12.8 12.9
Wei-Yin Chen 117/117 706.2 46-32 3.72 110 10.0 9.5
Drew Smyly 126/55 395.0 24-15 3.24 124 9.6 6.7
Miguel Gonzalez 101/95 580.1 39-33 3.82 107 7.9 3.8
Jarrod Parker 62/62 384.0 25-16 3.68 106 6.1 5.0
Tommy Milone 110/106 619.0 41-28 3.97 99 4.6 6.4
Matt Moore 75/73 410.0 32-31 3.82 101 4.2 5.2
Scott Diamond 58/58 343.0 19-27 4.43 92 1.4 2.2

It'd sure be swell if Rodon followed Quintana's rookie-year cues for the next several years, and since the White Sox have a history of protecting their gains on the pitching side, there's plenty of ammo for encouragement.

However, just like in Quintana's case, he might have a hard time cracking the top three of his rookie class at any point. Quintana might be the best pitcher of the bunch, but besides Trout and Cespedes, the position-player side of that 2012 class also includes Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado. Rodon might have the wipeout, GIF-inducing pitch Quintana lacks to break into medal contention, but given the star projections all around, there might be no issue with a comfortable fourth-place finish.