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Hey Rook!

Watching yesterday's painful game, one of the interesting subplots was that the two top American League Rookie of the Year candidates were playing: Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Rays' rightfielder Delmon Young. Of course, I think this is a no-brainer. Pedroia is batting .325 at the top of the order of the best team in baseball. D.P. has also become a master at the D.P. and every other aspect of the defensive game. He might not have Rey Sanchez range, but he has just 5 errors and a .991 fielding percentage - amazingly, that only ties him for fourth in the league. He does rank pretty high on the subjective "zone rating" statistic which is supposed to gauge how many balls a player gets to that he should get; he's 4th in the league which isn't bad since that's supposed to be his weakness.

Anyway, that's not why I'm writing. I was just caught up in the fun of those sortable fielding stats. What does that say about me? Never mind...

What's interesting about the Delmon v. D.P. contest is that they are prototypes of two different, and seemingly contentious camps in baseball thought. The old skool types believe that it's essential to get "tools". That is, scouts' primary goal should be to find young players with potential in all five tools - speed, power, arm, hitting for average, and fielding. Young has this and it's working. Another school of thought maintains that you look for results. If a player has a funky motion but always gets outs (Chad Bradford), then it's reasonable to expect him to continue to get outs. If he has Molina-brother-speed but hits .400 at every level, he'll continue to hit (Youk). Pedroia is this guy. He has always been underestimated because of his size and lack of speed. Yet, he has been a force everywhere he's played.

Part of this is also what I'll call a contrast in rawness. Young strikes out a lot (on pace for 128 this season) and never walks (on pace for 26) while D.P. is one of the hardest people to strike out and walks quite a lot - he's 5th in the AL in walks per strikeout (1.13) while Young is 164th in the majors at 0.24 (5th from the worst).

I'm putting this out there more for debate then to judge who's better. In my opinion, I'd take Pedroia over Young right now. But, the "ceiling" is still a relevant subject for player analysis and Young's is cathedral-esque. He's nasty and he could be one of the great players of his generation, in the scary Vlad Guererro mold. Lastly, these can both be correct ways to analyze players; they don't have to be mutually exclusive. Prof. Gammons has noted that some old school people might not support D.P. for R.O.Y. because they still don't believe he's very good and somehow begrudge him as a product of the new wave in baseball thought. That's a terrible reason not to vote for him.

Note: funny how no one seems to mention Young's mountain-dew-level-extreme past or even is pedigree: his brother Dimitri continues a pretty solid major league career.


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