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Rookie of the Year '89: Why the Wrong Cub Won

Remember these two?

In 1989 the Cubs had two rookie stud outfielders that helped the propel the team to a Division title for the first time since 1984: center fielder Jerome Walton and left fielder Dwight Smith. In an admittedly thin rookie class, the two would also spend the season battling it out for National League Rookie of the Year honors, with Walton ultimately taking the trophy and Smith finishing a distant second:

I was going to write a nice, fluffy piece examining Walton's ROY campaign and how great it was and what not, but when I dug into the numbers I discovered something interesting: Walton shouldn't have won at all.


"Wait, blogger," you might be saying to yourself. "It was a different time! We didn't have those fancy advanced statistics back in those days!" Yeah, I'll concede that, but even looking at traditional statistics you'll find that Smith outpaced Walton in every category except Runs (and bear in mind Walton batted leadoff most of the season).

Ohhh, what?

If we really want to re-litigate this ROY race, though, we have to bring in the advanced stats. And to be completely honest, they're pretty staggering.

Oh my...

It doesn't matter whose measure you use, or whether you use traditional stats or modern, advanced analytics--Smith had a far better season in 1989 than Walton.

He also wins the singing competition.

I guess what I'm saying is that while Walton was super exciting to watch that year, the voters really botched this one and Dwight Smith should've been the 1989 National League Rookie of the Year. In his honor, enjoy a lovely highlight of him helping the Cubs clinch the Division.


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