That Starlin Castro did not win Rookie of the Year is neither surprising or erroneous. That he finished tied for fifth is downright criminal.
Buster Posey predictably won the award, with Jason Heyward and Jaime Garcia coming (correctly) in at second and third, respectively. Though one could take issue with Posey’s limited regular season, after his post-season (something that is not supposed to be considered in the voting), you knew he was taking home the hardware.
But here’s where the vote – to me – becomes ridiculous. Castro finished behind Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez, and tied with Pirates second baseman Neil Walker.
Castro’s stats, though they tailed off at the end of the year, remain impressive. In 506 plate appearances, Castro hit .300/.347/.408. He had 39 extra base hits, drove in 41, scored 53, and stole 10 bases.
Sanchez, who received 18 points to Castro’s mere 3, hit .273/.341/.448 in 643 plate appearances. He had 19 homers (59 extra base hits), drove in 85 and scored 72. He even stole 5 bases.
Walker had arguably the best offensive season of the three, but in the most limited time. He hit .296/.349/.462 in 469 plate appearances. He had 12 homers (44 extra base hits), drove in 66 and scored 57.
You could argue that both had better offensive seasons than Castro, though it’s certainly close. But two factors militate in favor of Castro getting the nod. First, and most importantly, he put up his numbers playing shortstop. Sanchez is, of course, a first baseman. Walker gets a bit of a bump here for playing second, but Castro played in 15 more games, with a disastrous defense around him. Second, Castro put up his numbers at age 20. Walker is 25, and he played a bit in 2009. Sanchez is 27, and he played in both 2008 and 2009. Are age and service time prior to the season technical limitations on the award? No. But they certainly make Castro’s season far more impressive than Walker’s or Sanchez’s.