In 2009 one of the best players in Pittsburgh Pirates history, outfielder Andrew McCutchen, broke onto the scene and should have won National League Rookie of the Year.
In June of 2009, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded away their best player. This player was center fielder Nate McLouth. The reason that former general manager Neal Huntington made this trade was to make room for the team’s top prospect – center fielder Andrew McCutchen.
It did not take long for McCutchen to make an impact with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Quickly, McCutchen solidified himself as one of the best players in the game. To this day, he is still an elite hitter. However, in his 2009 rooked season the future National League MVP was robbed. Because in 2009 McCutchen should have won the National League Rookie of the Year.
In 2009, Florida Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan was named the NL Rookie of the Year. This was just the start of Coghlan becoming a hated man among Pittsburgh Pirates fans. Not only did he steal the 2009 NL ROY from McCutchen, he may have stolen a World Series Championship from McCutchen and the Pirates with his dirty slide that injured Jung Ho Kang in September 2015. But that is a discussion for another day.
McCutchen was just flat out better in 2009. Cutch hit for a .286/.365/.471 slash line to go with a 122 wRC+, 11.0% walk rate, .185 isolated power (ISO), and a 10.9% extra base hit rate. He also added speed to his game with 22 stolen bases. All of this led to Cutch posting a 3.4 fWAR in just 108 games played.
As for Coghlan, yes, he played in 128 games, but that is where his advantages end. His walk rate (9.4%), slugging percentage (.460), extra base hit rate (9.1%), ISO (.139), and fWAR (2.7) were all lower than McCutchen. In short, Coghlan was less valuable than McCutchen in 2009.
McCutchen’s performance was also more legitimate. While his .327 batting average on balls in play was slightly above league average, Coghlan’s .365 indicated that he benefited from good luck and was due for regression. Furthermore, McCutchen had a higher hard hit rate than Coghlan (40.5% vs 29.0%). So, signs pointed toward McCutchen’s season being more legitimate and him being the better hitter moving forward.
While McCutchen should have won the NL Rookie of the YP=ear Award in 2009, he did not. Unfortunately, this is one of the few pieces missing from his resume. Unlike a missing pieces such as World Series Champion, ROY is not something McCutchen can still win.