Junior Guerra and Jonathan Villar went head to head for the Milwaukee Brewers 2016 Newcomer of the Year award.
Both players were excellent additions to the Brewers in 2016, but Jonathan Villar takes the honors as the Milwaukee Brewers Newcomer of the Year over Junior Guerra.
Additionally, Chris Carter, Keon Broxton, and Carlos Torres received votes.
Newcomer of the Year Results
Jonathan Villar Total Votes: 15 First Place: 6
Junior Guerra Total Votes: 11 First Place: 3
Chris Carter Total Votes: 3 First Place: 1
Carlos Torres Total Votes: 2 First Place: 1
Keon Broxton Total Votes: 2 First Place: 0
As was mentioned when he finished second in the Brewers PoY voting, Villar was spectacular with the Crew in 2016.
He slashed .285/.369/.457 with 19 home runs, leading the team with 62 steals, the most for a Brewer since 2004. He also led the team in runs scored, walks, singles, and doubles.
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According to wRC+, Villar was also the team’s top offensive shortstop since Bill Hall in 2006. He had the highest home run total (19) and the highest SLG% (.457) by a Brewers shortstop since J.J. Hardy in 2008.
Villar also posted the highest on-base percentage (.369) by a qualified Brewers shortstop since Robin Yount in 1983. Perhaps most impressively, Villar also notched the highest walk rate (11.6%) ever by an eligible Brewers shortstop.
For his part, Junior Guerra finished the year with a 2.81 ERA and a .211 opponent batting average.
Both are the best numbers by a Brewers’ rookie pitcher (min. 100 IP) since Cal Eldred in 1992.
Guerra also had the lowest ERA and the highest rWAR (4.0) by any Brewers pitcher (min. 100 IP) since C.C. Sabathia in 2008.
He also had the lowest ERA in the Majors by a rookie starter with at least 100 innings pitched in 2016. Overall, Guerra held opponents to a .633 OPS this year.
Chris Carter had arguably the best offensive year of his career, becoming just the sixth Brewer to hit over 40 home runs in a single season. It was the most home runs by a Brewer since Ryan Braun in 2012. Carter also had the team’s highest ISO (.277) and hard hit% among qualified batters (40.5%) since Prince Fielder in 2009.
Carlos Torres was an under-the-radar asset for the Brewers all year. He never saw many high-stress innings but was excellent when he did pitch. He ended the year with an excellent 2.73 ERA over 82 1/3 innings.
That was good for the most innings pitched by a Milwaukee Brewers’ full-time reliever since Todd Coffey (83 2/3 IP) in 2009. Having an innings-eater in the bullpen who also keeps runs off the board is a stellar combination.
Instead of wearing down under the weight of a heavy workload, Torres only improved as the year went on:
- First half: 3.07 ERA, 4.19 FIP
- Second Half: 2.35 ERA, 3.25 FIP
This improvement is due in large part to the righty cutting his walk rate nearly in half after the All-Star break.
If his second half success can carry over to 2017, Torres should see more and more high-leverage innings with the Brewers.
From June 10 to the season’s end, Keon Broxton slashed .272/.379/.497 with a 132 wRC+ in 199 PA. With a minimum of 240 PA, Broxton also had the highest hard hit% (43.3%) since Braun and Fielder in 2007 and the highest walk rate (14.8%) since Fielder in 2011.
Additionally, Broxton was one of the better defenders on the team, finishing first in defensive WAR among Brewers according to Baseball Reference.
Overall, the vote apparently came down to Villar and Guerra. Some of the major sites for assessing player value seem split on who was more valuable in 2016:
Baseball Prospectus’ WARP:
- 4.8 Villar
- 1.3 Guerra
- 3.0 Villar
- 2.5 Guerra
Baseball Reference’s rWAR:
- 4.0 Guerra
- 3.9 Villar
Essentially, what set Villar apart was his excellent health and consistency in the lineup. While Guerra was shut down after 121 2/3 innings pitched, Villar appeared in all but six of the Brewers games in 2016.
He easily led the team in plate appearances with 679, the highest mark by a Brewer since Prince Fielder in 2011. While Villar clearly earned recognition for his season, I can’t help wondering how the vote would have turned out if Guerra had pitched in just a couple more games.