NL ROY candidates come down to three
Frazier, Harper and Miley are Senior Circuit's leading contenders
Three times in the past decade, the Marlins organization has produced the National League Rookie of the Year Award winner: Chris Coghlan in 2009, Hanley Ramirez in '06 and Dontrelle Willis in '03. And that only begins to hint at the depth of its success.
The year Ramirez won, 12 rookies were named on ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Half were Marlins. Dan Uggla finished second, Josh Johnson was fourth, and Scott Olsen, Anibal Sanchez and Josh Willingham also received votes.
In 2003, Willis' teammate Miguel Cabrera tied for fifth. In '10, Gaby Sanchez placed fourth.
So who would be better to assess this year's candidates for the award than Dan Jennings, Miami's assistant general manager of player personnel? The consensus is that it will come down to Cincinnati's versatile Todd Frazier, Washington outfielder Bryce Harper and Arizona left-hander Wade Miley. It didn't take Jennings long to make his pick.
"My guy would be Frazier," Jennings said. "Because he filled in for [third baseman Scott] Rolen so nicely. [Joey] Votto is down, he fills in at first. He's maintained a level of power and run production in a spot where he's been able to be a main piece of that ballclub. Their pitching staff has been so phenomenal that they don't need a lot of run support, but it seems like early ... [Frazier] had opportunity after opportunity to get the big hit with men in scoring position. And more times than not, he would come through.
"He had kind of a veteran presence in the batter's box to go along with rookie status. And because of it, they reaped the benefits. I loved watching the kid's energy and his passion to play. But I will tell you it's him because of his production and what he has done. The Reds lost such key components, Rolen and then Votto. And he filled in. Quite honestly, you don't replace those guys, but he did about as good a job as you could possibly do production-wise to make up for what they mean to that club."
Frazier ranked sixth among NL rookies in batting average (.273), third in homers (19) and second in RBIs (67).
Jennings said choosing Frazier was not intended as a slight to Harper.
"You can't take anything away from him," Jennings said. "He reminds me of a modern-day Pete Rose. Tremendous power. I think in our game, so many times we get frustrated when we see guys who do not put forth a good effort. Now you see a guy who puts forth this kind of effort and plays the game like his hair's afire, and you hear people criticize that because he plays that way.
"For me, it's refreshing, and I think he's a large part of why that team is so energized and they play the way they do. So I think it's a two-horse race based on what those two guys have done. I tend to lean toward the offensive player versus the pitcher when it comes to any type of postseason award. It's just a case of every-fifth-day production versus everyday production."
Jennings, however, has also been impressed with Miley, who led NL rookies with 16 wins and sported an impressive 3.33 ERA.
"First of all, he's showed me great consistency," Jennings said. "Love the kid. He's a Louisiana boy who reminds me of that alligator huntin' show. He goes out and competes that way and can be that type of guy."
It will be a nice honor for whoever wins. What it won't be, if history is any guide, is a reliable predictor of future success. Coghlan, for example, spent most of this season at Triple-A New Orleans.
"This game is about adjustments, and as you establish yourself and you adjust, then people -- pitchers -- are going to adjust to you," Jennings said. "And if you don't have the ability to do that or if you allow frustration to set in, then it eliminates and hurts your ability to produce."
"You look back. Joe Charboneau is a well-documented story. Jerome Walton. Our guy. Geovany Soto, Eric Hinske -- there are a lot of guys who jump out. They cannot sustain or they don't sustain, whether it's due to an injury or the inability to make those types of adjustments. I think that's probably the biggest thing. And they maybe press a little bit trying to duplicate what they had, and because of that, it creates a little too much pressure and they can't adjust as quickly as they need to."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.