Bright spots for the 2019 Orioles were few and far between. One player who was, without question, a positive surprise for the team this season was rookie lefty John Means. The BBWAA voters for AL Rookie of the Year agreed, as Means was named among the top three vote-getters when award finalists were announced on Monday night.
The others announced as being in the top three were Houston’s Yordan Alvarez and Tampa’s Brandon Lowe. The winner and full results will be announced on November 11 starting at 6pm on MLB Network.
One thing to keep in mind is that the process of voting is over and has been over since before the postseason. There is not a second round of voting among the three finalists. The BBWAA could have announced the winner tonight if they wanted to. They just try to get an extra week of people talking about the possible winners by dragging this process out.
There are two ballots per league city for a total of 30 ballots per award. For Rookie of the Year, voters have to name three players on their ballots, with five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote.
One thing that could work in Means’s favor is that he was the only one of these players who actually played the full season at the MLB level. He pitched in 31 games, 27 of which were starts. Alvarez made headlines with 27 home runs in only 87 games. Lowe batted .270/.336/.514 in 82 games.
Means having the most successful full season shows up in his Baseball Reference WAR. His is the highest of this trio at 4.6. Alvarez slugged his way to a 3.7 WAR - impressive in 87 games, to be sure - while Lowe’s play comes in at 2.9 WAR.
That’s only bWAR, though. Fangraphs WAR gives Alvarez the edge at 3.8 WAR, with Means at 3.0 and Lowe at 2.6. For a pitcher like Means, whose ERA was an impressive 3.60 while his FIP was a less-impressive 4.41, fWAR penalizes him in a way that bWAR doesn’t.
We all know that a pitcher’s win-loss record doesn’t tell us everything, or sometimes even anything, about how he pitched. But for me, one easy to point to thing to show how Means had some success this year is the fact that he pulled off a 12-11 record, winning more games than he lost, on a baseball team that finished 54-108. This was not some run support-inflated fluke. Means won games because he pitched well.
Whether Means becomes the first Orioles Rookie of the Year winner since Gregg Olson in 1989 or not, it’s cool that he pitched well enough to get recognized in the top three. For as much as there was preseason hype for Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr., when the time came for doing the ROY voting, Means came out ahead of him, along with several other talented rookies whose fans probably feel they got snubbed.
Means’s out-of-nowhere success was one fun thing about this 108-loss squad, and whatever else happens in the 26-year-old lefty’s career, he can always feel good about his first full season in MLB. Congratulations to him for being recognized in this way. Hopefully when the full results are announced, the voters will have respected his accomplishments over the full season.
Not surprisingly, the Orioles did not have anyone in the top three for Manager of the Year, Cy Young, or the Most Valuable Player Award, whose finalists were also announced on Monday night.