Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Brian Matusz, 2010 Topps Update Series #US-185

Brian Matusz finished tied for fifth in the voting for 2010's American League Rookie of the Year, which was won by Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who garnered attention with 40 saves, a 0.88 WHIP, and 71 strikeouts in 69.1 innings. Three players were named on each ballot, and Matusz received three third-place votes. With a quick glimpse at his numbers, which included a 10-12 record and a 4.30 ERA, you might assume that he was lucky to receive even that small amount of consideration. But a closer look suggests that he should have been a more serious contender.

First, consider the progress that Brian made as the season progressed. Like the team at large, the University of San Diego product got off to a poor start. When Buck Showalter arrived at the beginning of August, the lefty had a 3-11 record and a gruesome 5.46 ERA. Over the final two months of the season, Matusz rebounded and finished with a 7-1 mark and a 2.18 ERA. He will enter the 2011 season on a personal six-game win streak, and he failed to complete six innings in only one of his last 11 starts. If he had maintained that level of performance from April through September, he would have been a slam-dunk for Rookie of the Year.

Of course, you can't just throw out those first two-thirds of the year. But even taking Matusz's rocky beginnings into account, he stacks up pretty well. He led Orioles starters in strikeouts (143), and his total of 3.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) was best among all vote-getting A.L. rookies. His stats were practically in a dead heat with the Rays' Wade Davis, the fourth-place finisher and the only other starter to receive votes (12-10, 4.07 ERA, 113 K).

Orioles fans are getting used to droughts, and Brian Matusz's fifth-place finish means that the Birds still haven't had a Rookie of the Year winner since Gregg Olson in 1989. I suppose we'll have to settle for the 2011 Cy Young Award.


Chris said...

"Brian Matusz, Cy Young award winner." Definitely has a nice ring to it. *knocks on wood*

Kevin said...

Chris - Keep on knockin'. As long as we're dreaming, it would be nice for Matusz, Tillman, and Arrieta to finish 1-2-3 in the voting. ;-)