Just heard the news that Buster Posey and Neftali Feliz were landslide winners in the Rookie of the Year balloting. While NL fans will no doubt debate whether Posey deserved the award over Jason Heyward, that's at least an "apples to apples" argument. I think there's more to debate on the AL side, where Austin Jackson deserved a better fate.
Feliz caught the eye of the voters by setting a rookie record for saves (40), plus the Rangers made the playoffs. Both solid accomplishments. But while his pitching ability is impressive, Feliz is a role player. A specialist. That's not a slam, it's a fact. Feliz made 70 appearances and pitched 69.1 innings. The Rangers played 1,455 innings. So Feliz saw action 4.7 percent of the time.
Jackson, on the other hand, played fulltime -- and he played well. He became only the ninth rookie since 1901 to post 100 runs, 170 hits, 30 doubles, 10 triples and 20 stolen bases in the same season. Yes, he struck out 170 times, and the nay-sayers are hanging their hat on that one. But Jackson was given way more opportunity to fail that Feliz was. Jackson had 675 plate appearances and played 1,256 innings of Gold Glove-caliber centerfield. That means he was in on 87 percent of the action.
Plus, Jackson performed at that level while replacing Curtis Granderson, the Tigers most popular player. Who did Feliz replace? Frank Francisco and his 25 saves/3.83 ERA (2009). Not exactly the same size shoes.
Then, just for fun, let's just throw this out there: MLB's idea of a "rookie" is a joke. Feliz pitched in 20 games last year (while Jackson was in the minor leagues), yet he still fell 19 innings short of being considered a rookie. Are you kidding me? According to the rules, you're still a rookie if you pitch less than 50 innings. Non-pitchers get 130 at-bats. Averaging four at-bats a game, a player could play 32 full games and still be considered a rookie the following season. Do you think Jackson would have better or worse in 2010 if he had played fulltime in the majors for an entire month last fall? Come on MLB, how 'bout giving the Rookie of the Year award to an actual rookie?
Either way, Jackson deserved it.