This is a damn cool honor.
Although he says he didn’t have his best stuff last night, it matters not … because that was a September start. In August, Kyle Hendricks was fantastic. So fantastic that he earned NL Rookie of the Month honors.
The Cubs didn’t lose a game Hendricks started in August, and his 1.69 ERA for the month was resplendent. Although his xFIP for the month was a so-so 4.14 (the statistical theory there would be he “should” have given up more homers), his FIP was a very solid 3.05, thanks primarily to a paper-thin walk rate of just 4.1% in the month.
While you could argue there was luck there in Hendricks’ performance (.231 BABIP in August), I’m not so sure that’s the case. I think Hendricks is going to be an interesting case study in whether sequencing, execution, location, and planning can overcome a lack of raw stuff, and consistently induce weak contact. Consider this: in August, Hendricks’ line drive rate was a scant 14.8%, his groundball rate was a solid 47.8%, and his infield fly ball rate was an excellent 11.6%. Yes, he was allowing a lot of balls in play, but guys simply weren’t making solid contact off of him.
It’s a small sample, but here’s where I land: I don’t think what Hendricks is doing is “luck.” The only question is whether it is sustainable over a long period of time.
All in all, it makes Hendricks a fascinating guy to watch, and, frankly, a guy you want to see succeed – not just because he’s a Cub, but because there’s a part of you that wants to believe a guy like Hendricks can be an excellent big league starter. I really can’t wait to see what his future holds, and I’ve got very little issue with the Cubs going into 2015 expecting that he’ll hold one of the rotation spots.
[Among the other vote-getters for Rookie of the Month? ... Jorge Soler. You know, the guy who played four games in August. (But they were damn good games.)]