If there was no Mike Trout, who would be the AL Rookie of the Year? (Hint: there are 4 A’s on your checklist.)
Seeing how Mike Trout leads all American Leaguers in batting average, OPS, runs and stolen bases, he’s a very, very strong candidate for the Most Valuable Player award. He has played in 84 of the Angels’ 107 games, but is 12th in the AL in hits, 17th in home runs and 22nd in RBIs. The Angels are 48-35 when he’s in the starting lineup.
So unlike the National League, where Wade Miley, Todd Frazier and Bryce Harper are in a very, very close contest for the Rookie of the Year award, the American League trophy can be engraved and shipped to Anaheim.
But there are gifted rookies all over the place, and if there wasn’t a Mike Trout this season, who would the contenders for the AL award be?
First, a tip of the hat to Anthony Rizzo. He was called up June 26 accompanied by Bryce Harper-type hype. If his first 31 games are an indication, he’s going to fulfill all the hype and then some. He’s hitting .314 with 8 home runs, 20 RBIs and a .902 OPS. The Cubs are 18-13 with him in the starting lineup. If he keeps going, he could edge his way onto some ballots, but it’ll be tough to win after not playing in the Cubs’ first 73 games.
Here are some of the other candidates:
- Yoenis Cespedes.
- Will Middlebrooks.
- Jesus Montero.
- Ryan Cook.
- Addison Reed.
- Tom Milone.
- Matt Moore.
- Wen-Yei Chen.
- Jarrod Parker.
- Scott Diamond.
- Yu Darvish.
It’s a good thing there’s a Mike Trout because there are a handful of worthy candidates with such similar numbers that it would be difficult to separate them. Cespedes (.310/14/54) might have a slight advantage over Middlebrooks (.290/13/48) and Montero (.252/10/40), but they’re all in the conversation.
(Cespedes could be on his way to separating himself from the field. In 20 games since the All-Star Break, he’s hitting .430 with 5 HR, 18 RBI and a 1.179 OPS. His team is 15-5.)
As for the pitchers, forget about it. Two closers, Ryan Cook of the A’s and Addison Reed of the White Sox, have held up in the heat of a pennant race. Both have had some rough moments, but their teams are still in the thick of things and still giving them the ball. Ranking the starters is more difficult: Tom Milone (9-8, 3.68), Matt Moore (8-7, 3.84), Wen-Yei Chen (9-6, 3.65), Jarrod Parker (7-5, 3.44), Yu Darvish (11-7, 4.38) and Scott Diamond (9-5, 2.93) are five of the best.
It’ll be interesting to see which of these rookies emerges in the final weeks to get places on the ballot after Trout. What’s really interesting is not just there are a lot of rookies worth a mention, but that a long list of them are being counted on in pennant races. The A’s and White Sox in particular probably wouldn’t be in contention without their young guys. It speaks well of Robin Ventura, Bob Melvin and the other managers who put those guys in the right environment to succeed and allowed them to grow within the confines of the team. In the pressure of a race, that’s not easy to do.