I hate to compare players or situations from different sports. I think you're really overreaching mainly because different sports have different aspects and qualities. It basically becomes comparing apples to oranges when you compare a Giants team with a Warriors team. Baseball isn't played with the same emotion or physicality of basketball. So why compare the two, right?
Well, in some ways, before they announced the Rookie of the Year winners today, I couldn't help but think of last year's NBA Rookie of the Year race when Tyreke Evans of the Kings beat out Stephen Curry of the Warriors. Evans had the neat stats (20-5-5), but Curry in my mind had the more impact. First off, when you watched them play, there was no contest. Curry was out in the transition making plays. Evans on the other hand was looking to score anyway possible and that was about it.
But the real clincher in my mind was there situations. Curry had a team of cast-offs (seriously, Anthony Tolliver and Reggie Williams?), selfish players (Corey Maggette and Stephen Jackson) and a star player who basically didn't want to play with him because he felt threatened that he'd steal the spotlight (Monta Ellis). As for Evans, he had a promising team with promising young talent that was pretty much built for him after they shipped Kevin Martin (a good player mind you) out of town. And yet, Curry's team finished well, while Evans' teams, for lack of a better word, did not.
So what got Evans his Rookie of the Year award? His start and his stats. Curry didn't have the start Evans had and he never caught up.
I thought it was going to be the same thing with Jason Heyward and Buster Posey.
After Heyward's home run in his first at-bat against the Cubs, I just thought "That's it, no one else is coming close to this award." That wasn't to say Heyward wasn't deserving. Heyward posted a .376 wOBA, helped by 18 homers, 83 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. Add that with solid defense (4.8 UZR) and a whole year of play, and you just felt that it was Heyward's award to lose.
But deep down, as a Giant fan, you just felt Posey had more impact.
Posey had to catch one of the best staffs in baseball, and not only did he handle them, but he made them better. He became the main offensive hitter in a team that was punch-less for offense in the beginning of the year and all of last year. He became "The Man" and made everyone forget about Bengie Molina, even though Molina was certainly an above-average Major League catcher for the Giants the past three-plus seasons.
You just can't equate that all into stats, same with how you couldn't measure Curry's impact into stats. Posey changed the team dynamic. He helped bring them up from pretenders to contenders. Heyward helped make them contenders the whole year, but he wasn't the centerpiece. He didn't have the pressure like Posey. It's no fault of his own. When you play outfield, you just don't have as much impact on a team like a catcher. You're not dealing with pitchers who are notoriously known as headcases. It's just the reality of baseball. To do what Posey did was nothing short of incredible, especially considering he was only 23 years old.
I'm glad the voters thought right here. I figured they'd do what the basketball writers did for Rookie of the Year last year and simply say "Well, he's got the numbers! So we gotta give it to him!"
Chalk this one up for the Bay Area. Maybe Posey will be better than Heyward and maybe he won't in terms of long term. But for now, Posey earned it with what he did on the field and in terms of wins, and that is why he deserved this just a little bit more than Heyward.
minor lines, 4/22/14
4 hours ago