At the start of the season it was a question as to whether Jaime Garcia would even be on the team or sent down to AAA. He didn’t receive the media attention of Atlanta’s Jason Heyward, or Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, but he’s had the type of season the latter was expected to have.

Yet, when it comes to the Rookie of the Year talk, those two, and the fresh Buster Posey, are at the forefront of the conversation. For whatever reason, Garcia’s historic rookie campaign is getting pushed to the backburner.

And let there be no mistake about it, Garcia is having a historic season. He currently wields a 2.33 ERA. The last rookie starter who qualified for the ERA title with a lower ERA was John Matlack in 1972. Since integration, only four rookies have qualified for the ERA title and had lower ERA’s than Garcia. He is arguably having the best season by a rookie pitcher in the last 38 years, and he’s hardly in the conversation for the league’s Rookie of the Year award. 

Compare those numbers with Buster Posey, who’s leading all rookies with 300 or more plate appearances with an OPS of .877, the Cubs’ Tyler Colvin who leads rookies with 19 HR’s, or Gaby Sanchez who leads with 79 RBI’s. While those stats are all nice enough, they are hardly historic, even if you were to merge them all into a “Frankenstein” hitter.

While Garcia is actually in the run for the ERA title, ranking sixth in the majors in ERA and is tied for 22nd in wins, the best any hitter is faring among those who qualify is Sanchez who ranks 19th in BA. To be fair, if Posey were qualified he’d be sixth in BA, but he doesn’t qualify, and his August splits don’t suggest that he’d be doing so well in a full season.

Which brings me to the point of why Garcia’s season is so impressive, and why he should be the front runner for the ROY award. He’s not doing this over a short season. He’s qualifying. It seems that what often gets lost when looking at rookies is how much that second half of the season can impact a player.

Whether a hitter or pitcher, the first few times around the league aren’t scouted by opposing teams. These teams are learning how to pitch to them, or hit them. Once they get “figured out,” teams adjust and so do the stats. No player is immune to it, not Strasburg, not Heyward, and not Garcia. If you check their respective splits you’ll see what I mean.

Virtually every player not named Albert Pujols will see a dip in their numbers about their second or third month in the Majors. It’s what they do after that that tells you how good they really are. It tells you how they adjust to the adjustments other teams are making. 

Garcia has passed through the fire. He had 4.50 ERA in the month of June, and he’s coming back, posting an ERA of 2.35 for the month of August and is currently on a streak of 20 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run. While I wouldn’t argue that playing a full season is a necessity to win the ROY, I would argue that it shouldn’t count against you either.

When you’re posting historic numbers, and you’re doing it over a full season, you should get the nod over players that are putting up very nice numbers over half a season. 

Precisely why Garcia’s accomplishments aren’t garnering much attention is a mystery to me. I’ve little doubt that if Strasburg had the same ERA there’d be a nightly ticker tracking it on ESPN. One can only hope that the voters pay attention to the season and vote based on that rather than media reports. 


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