All season long I have kept an eye on this year’s rookie hitters, wondering which one would match the incredible achievements of Albert Pujols in his inaugural year at the plate. I have used Pujols as the standard, with 1000 points as his dedicated number. With my modification of Similarity Scores, I have allowed for a player to best that standard, in case it should ever happen. At this moment, two rookies, as seen in the sidebar, are in the incredibly rarified air of 900+ points on the scale.
Rather than allow my assumption to stand unchallenged, I embarked on a quest to crown Albert Pujols as the best rookie hitter ever by comparing him to every other Jackie Robinson award winner listed on the MLB website. Throughout history, I found only fourteen other players who came within 100 points of the pinnacle. They are listed below.
Ladies and gentlemen – the best rookie hitters since 1947:
Most of these names will surprise nobody. Some will cause either laughter or puzzled head-scratching.
I have a previously mentioned problem with Willie McCovey’s selection, however. He only played in 52 games while amassing those incredible power numbers, so the sample size is a mite suspicious to me. But still, he kicked ass and was chosen, so it’s legit. Walt Dropo at #2 was a complete mystery to me. I’m not much of a historian, so it was great to learn about him.
Boston had four out of the fourteen, which just goes to show that it takes mature talent to win the world series. Though the Idiots were far from mature, they were just older than these guys.
Also surprisingly, the steroid era had little impact on this contest. Mark McGwire was still a comparative stick figure when he won this award, and none of the other juiced-up players of his era made the 900 Club.
There are a million and one ways to argue this data, and I hope you feel free to do so. The journey was the thing for me, and I am satisfied that I can, from here on out, call Albert Pujols the Rookie of the Century. Unless Ryan J. Braun goes on a tear this week….