Explaining my NL Rookie of the Year Award ballot


Voting for the annual Baseball Writers' Association of America awards has always seemed like a distinguished honor. And at times a difficult one.

Needless to say, I was very surprised and grateful when I learned I had been assigned a ballot for this year’s National League Rookie of the Year Award in my first season as a BBWAA member.

At first, I was intimidated by the daunting task. How could I – a humble D.C.-area kid who grew up to be fortunate enough to cover his hometown baseball team – be given such an important task as to vote for one of the sport’s most prestigious awards and by so doing become a part of the sport’s incredible history? Again, while in my first year as a member, nonetheless?

Thankfully, this year’s NL Rookie of the Year decision ended up being sort of a no-brainer instead of one of the highly debated awards.

In fact, entering last night since 2003, four NL Rookie of the Year awards have been won unanimously, with a majority of the others winning by a landslide. Only four races for this award over the last two decades were actually close, the latest coming in 2012 when Bryce Harper took home the hardware for the Nationals by narrowly beating the Diamondbacks’ Wade Miley by a score of 112-105 (Harper was awarded 16 first-place votes, eight second-place votes and eight third place votes while Miley was awarded 12 first-place votes, 13 second-place votes and six third place votes on a 5-3-1 scoring system).

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How the Nats busted Senga's "ghost forkball"

Joey Meneses Jeimer Candelario five gray

NEW YORK – The talk around the Big Apple the past two nights when it comes to baseball has been about the Nationals’ young starting pitchers. And rightfully so.

Josiah Gray (nine strikeouts over six shutout innings on Tuesday) and MacKenzie Gore (matching a career-high 10 strikeouts over six innings of one-run ball on Wednesday) have dominated recent headlines like they dominated the Mets lineup over the last two nights.

But lost in the pitching hysteria last night was how the Nats’ own lineup handled one of the more difficult pitches to face in the sport.

Kodai Senga, the 30-year-old right-hander the Mets signed to a five-year, $75 million deal over the offseason out of Japan, is known for throwing a “ghost forkball.” It’s not officially called that by any metric. If you look at his Statcast page, it’s just a forkball.

But it got its name from the way it comes at hitters like a fastball and just seems to disappear right before crossing the plate. Coming into last night’s start, the pitch had a 54 percent whiff rate and a 30 percent putaway rate. Opponents had managed just three hits in 25 at-bats ending with the forkball for a .120 average.

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Martinez repeating lineup for just the third time

garcia hr @ NYM gray

NEW YORK – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Davey Martinez hasn’t really followed that motto through this season’s first 22 games, still tinkering with his lineup to find the right combination while also keeping matchups in mind on any given night.

The Nationals have used 20 different batting orders through the first month of the season. Early on, it was largely due to the high volume of opposing left-handed starters they faced, causing Martinez to switch around the order a lot.

The only time the manager has trotted out the same lineup for back-to-back games was on April 14-15 against the Guardians and on April 16 and 18 against the Guardians and Orioles, all four against opposing right-handed starters.

Tonight’s second game against the Mets will mark the third time the Nationals will trot out the same lineup for consecutive games, with Alex Call leading off, Luis García remaining in the second spot, Jeimer Candelario hitting third, Joey Meneses batting cleanup, and Keibert Ruiz, Dominic Smith, Lane Thomas, CJ Abrams and Victor Robles following.

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A look at the remaining pitching market, plus other notes

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In case you missed it, Aaron Judge re-signed with the Yankees. It got pretty extensive coverage. And yes, most of the non-Yankees fans in the game are ready to move on to something else now.

As it relates to the Orioles, they added right-handed pitcher Kyle Gibson in recent days, but their search for a pitcher they can slot toward the top of their rotation is ongoing. Their choices are lessening.

The biggest pitching fish, or one of the three when free agency began, lefty Carlos Rodón is still out there. It would be a surprise if he ends up with the Orioles, but what a surprise it would be. Other pitchers that might have been in play for the Orioles have come off the board.

Right-hander Taijuan Walker signed with the Phillies for four years at $72 million. Right-hander Jameson Taillon joined the Cubs for four years at $68 million. José Quintana is joining the Mets and Andrew Heaney is headed to Texas.

The team that signs Rodón will lose a draft pick, as he rejected a qualifying offer. Same applies to Chris Bassitt and Nathan Eovaldi. Kodai Senga, with no draft pick attached, could be signing soon, per reports, while lefty Sean Manaea and righty Noah Syndergaard are still out there.

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