On Monday, Major League Baseball will announce the winner of Rookie of the Year. To San Diego Padres fans, Khalil Greene has already won. The first year shortstop provided tremendous play in the field and a solid bat to boot. Ironically, he is up against an ex-mate, Jason Bay.
It is a two horse race down the stretch and each player have bright futures. Jason Bay and Khalil Greene were so much better than the rest of the competition that it figures to come down to the wire.
Greene manned one of the toughest positions on the field and more than held his own. His defense was a steadying force up the middle of the field and contributed to the success of the pitching staff. Not only did he make the ordinary play, but he also made many a fan shake their heads in awe with the spectacular. He was in on 81 double plays and had a .965 fielding percentage.
"His glove is worth 5-10 wins a year for us with all the runs he saves,” General Manager Kevin Towers said at the time of Greene’s injury.
A slow May almost pushed Greene out of the race but he bounced back and had his best month during August when he hit .311 with five homers and 16 RBI’s. And away from pitcher-friendly Petco, Greene hit .301.
He ended the year with 15 homers, 31 doubles, four triples and 65 RBI’s while batting .273. What is missed during these talks is his position in the batting order – eighth. Batting before the pitcher for much of the year, Greene saw nothing but junk and still found a way to contribute in a positive way.
Bay, a leftfielder, had just two errors on the year but only threw out three runners. He provided solid protection on the left side of the field and showed pretty good range.
His forte, however, was definitely his bat. The former Padre farm hand, and former roommate of Greene, was hot at the plate for most of the year. He hit .338 in July and had three months with six homers or more. His worst month was September when he hit .260 yet he still earned Rookie of the Month honors due to his league-high 22 RBI’s during the month.
Overshadowing is all is July 2 memory when Bay had four extra base hits and plated eight men on the night. He ended the year with 82 RBI’s, passing Ralph Kiner for most RBI’s ever by a Pirates rookie.
Bay led all National League rookies in homers, RBI, extra-base hits, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and is first with a .327 batting average with runners in scoring position.
No Pirate, however, has ever won the ROY award and no Canadian born player has ever won the award.
When the dust clears on Monday one of these players will have to smile for his friend across the country.
Greene may have had the votes before his late season injury but Bay has the votes today. In a world of what have you done for me lately, Jason Bay will get the award and is deserving. More than Khalil? That is a debate that will rage on until spring.