National League Rookie of the Year

The Rookie of the Year award has been given each year since 1947, when Jackie Robinson won the award, with each league gaining a recipient in 1949. It was renamed for Robinson in July of 1987, a fitting tribute to the legendary game-changer.

The National League is, perhaps, in the middle of one of the greatest races for the award in it’s 65-year history. While one name has all of the hype, there are several players who should garner votes, potentially creating the closest vote in the history of the award.

Who Will Win:

Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals


.259/.330/.449, 20 2B, 6 3B, 17 HR, 47 RBI, 13 sB, 98:47 K:BB in 437 AB. 19 years old and playing on the first place team in the NL East.

Why He Should Win:

In order for the hype to reach where it is supposed to, Harper should win the NL ROY award. While he garners more attention than others, and deservedly so considering his age and numbers, Harper hasn’t even showed a portion of what his number will eventually become.

Harper is getting hot at the right moment, as well. Since August 29 the Nationals are 7-1 and Harper is hitting .400/.471/.967 with 2 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBI and a 4:4 K:BB in 30 AB. By finishing the season strong and posting ridiculous numbers, Harper could lead the Nationals through the final month of the season and into the playoffs like the elite player that he is going to be.

Who Should Win:

Todd Frazier, 1B/3B/OF, Cincinnati Reds


.289/.347/.531, 23 2B, 6 3B, 18 HR, 62 RBI, 3 SB and a 91:32 K:BB in 367 AB. 26 years old and provides the Reds with great flexibililty to extend their current 8.5 game lead in the NL Central.

Why He Should Win:

33-14…that’s the record that the Reds had when Frazier was in the lineup and Joey Votto was on the disabled list. Frazier hit .321 in 165 AB with 9 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR and 32 RBI in those 47 games.

While he is older than Harper due to his experience playing college baseball, it doesn’t change the fact that his numbers are better across the board. In fact, you could say that Frazier has been more vital to the success of his club due to his play while Joey Votto, perhaps the best hitter in the National League, missed those 47 games with his two knee surgeries.

Sleeper Candidate #1:

Wade Miley, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks


14-9, 27 games (24 starts), 2.90 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 117:30 K:BB in 164.2 IP. 25 years old.

Why He Should Win:

While Miley’s team is 9.5 games out in the NL West, you can’t blame the young left-hander for their struggles. On top of his total statistics (above), Miley has been even more impressive in his 10 starts since the All-Star break, compiling a 2.67 ERA with a 47:9 K:BB in 64 IP, allowing just two home runs with his 5.22 K:BB. Solid for a rookie.

With the addition of Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs from the Diamondbacks system, Miley could be the leader of the next group of “Baby Backs”.

Sleeper Candidate #2:

Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado Rockies


.251/.296/.528, 15 2B, 23 HR, 58 RBI, 3 SB and a 78:30 K:BB in 303 AB. 23 years old.

Why He Should Win:

Rosario has played a solid catcher for the lowly, 20-games-out Colorado Rockies. While his on-base and contact skills are lacking, Rosario has insane amounts of pop in his bat. Beyond that, he guns down 39% of would-be base stealers (league average is 27%), and the Rockies could really improve in the next couple of seasons with Rosario’s power, a full season of Josh Rutledge, and a healthy Troy Tulowitzki to add to Carlos Gonzalez.

Honorable Mention:

Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs; Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee Brewers; Mike Fiers, Milwaukee Brewers; Lucas Harrell, Houston Astros;

While the vote will probably come down to the battle between Todd Frazier and Bryce Harper, there really are several players who are worthy of votes for the NL Rookie of the Year.

Who do you think should win?

Greatest Rookie Ever?

Mike Trout just turned 21 years old on August 7. He has given baseball fans plenty of gifts this season with an incredible rookie season, which has led to some speculation that he could win the American League MVP, along with the Rookie of the Year award. His season still has some time to play out, but his .345/.409/.597 line with 21 doubles, five triples, 21 home runs, 60 RBI, and a league leading 36 steals has already left the youngster with a 7.0 WAR. He already ranks among the greatest rookies ever and he could be on his way to becoming the best player in baseball very soon, if he isn’t already.

Looking at his incredible season led me to wonder who had the best rookie year ever. Here are my top ten rookie seasons since the Rookie of the Year was established in 1947:

1) Jackie Robinson, 1947, 5th in MVP Voting

.297/.383/.427, 151 G, 175 H, 31 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 48 RBI, 29 SB, 3.0 WAR

Jackie Robinson gets the No.1 spot for more than just his results. Not only did he break the color barrier in MLB, but he posted these numbers with teammates that wouldn’t speak to him and opposing players and fans who slandered him on and off of the field.

2) Fred Lynn, 1975, AL MVP

.331/.401/.566, 145 G, 175 H, 47 2B, 7 3B, 21 HR, 105 RBI, 10 SB, 7.1 WAR

Lynn led the Red Sox to the World Series in his rookie year and was the first rookie to win an MVP, as well. Lynn’s rookie season would have to rate as his second best season in his career, though he never won another MVP while making nine All-Star teams.

3) Ichiro Suzuki, 2001, AL MVP

.350/.381/.457, 157 G, 242 H, 34 2B, 8 3B, 8 HR, 69 RBI, 56 SB, 7.5 WAR

Ichiro was not your typical, young rookie, having arrived in the United States at the age of 27 from Japan. His speed and powerful arm in right field changed the Mariners for years. He would easily have 3,000 hits and would be closing in or beyond 4,000 hits for his career if he had played his whole career in the States, but 2,548 isn’t bad for now! The second Rookie of the Year to win the MVP, Ichiro led the Mariners to 116 wins in 2001 before they lost to the New York Yankees in the ALCS.

4) Frank Robinson, 1956, 7th in MVP Voting

.290/.379/.558, 152 G, 166 H, 27 2B, 6 3B, 38 HR, 83 RBI, 8 SB, 6.2 WAR

The future Hall of Famer came into the league with a bang. He immediately became a force to be wreckoned with in Cincinnati.

5) Albert Pujols, 2001, 4th in MVP Voting

.329/.403/.610, 161 G, 194 H, 47 2B, 4 3B, 37 HR, 130 RBI, 1 SB, 6.3 WAR

Pujols jumped from Low-A Peoria in 2000 to the majors in 2001. He hasn’t had to look back. Pujols has established himself as one of the greatest sluggers in the history of baseball. He struggled at the start of the 2012 season for his new club, the Los Angeles Angels, but he has his stats back to their typically mind-blowing status. He is a three-time MVP, and I may be selling his first season short at No.5.

6) Ryan Braun, 2007, 24th in MVP Voting

.324/.370/.634, 113 G, 146 H, 26 2B, 6 3B, 34 HR, 97 RBI, 15 SB, 1.8 WAR

If Braun wasn’t such an attrocious fielder in his rookie year, his WAR would have been much higher. He had an .895 fielding percentage at third base, which was just a touch lower than the league average of .954. Braun, juicing or not, has established himself as a superstar, and he will be in Milwaukee longer than the Miller Brewing Company with his current contract.

7) Nomar Garciaparra, 1997, 8th in MVP Voting

.306/.342/.534, 153 G, 209 H, 44 2B, 11 3B, 30 HR, 98 RBI, 22 SB, 6.5 WAR

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOMAH!!! The man could fill up a box score in his rookie year, and he was a beloved figure in Boston due to his name being awesome to say with a Boston accent, and his ability. He came into the league around the same time as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Miguel Tejada, and Barry Larkin’s 1995 MVP season made the shortstop position a sexy offensive position. Together with Cal Ripken and the others, Nomar helped change the shortstop position, and his rookie year was statistically magical.

8) Mike Piazza, 1993, 9th in MVP Voting

.318/.370/.561, 149 G, 174 H, 24 2B, 2 3B, 35 HR, 112 RBI, 3 SB, 6.8 WAR

Piazza was selected by the Dodgers as a favor to Tommy LaSorda, his godfather. Sometimes, lightening strikes. Piazza was one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time. His rookie season was outstanding and the 62nd round pick only made 11 All-Star games. Nice find. Great season.

9) Mark McGwire, 1987, 6th in MVP Voting

.289/.370/.618, 151 G, 161 H, 28 2B, 4 3B, 49 HR, 118 RBI, 1 SB, 4.8 WAR

Before the reporters snooped into his locker and before McGwire and Sammy Sosa made baseball cool again after the 1994 player’s strike, “Big Mac” was a skinny, 23-year-old who hit 49 bombs in his rookie year. It is scary to think of the numbers he would have finished with if he wasn’t hurt so often during his career, playing in 1874 games over 16 years (117 games played per year).

10) Fernando Valenzuela, 1981, 5th in MVP Voting and NL Cy Young Winner

13-7, 2.48 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11 CG, 8 SHO, 192.1 IP, 180:61 K:BB, 4.6 WAR

Fernando-mania! The hefty-lefty took the baseball world by storm in 1981, winning the NL Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young. Eight SHUTOUT! 11 COMPLETE GAMES! Was Dusty Baker the manager of the Dodgers then!? The good ol’ days, where innings and pitch counts were just as overlooked as amphetamene use. Good stuff.

Honorable Mention:

Dustin Pedroia, 2007; Jason Bay, 2004; Scott Rolen, 1997; Derek Jeter, 1996; Raul Mondesi, 1994; Jeff Bagwell, 1991; David Justice, 1990; Vince Coleman, 1985; Dwight Gooden, 1984; Mark Fidrych, 1976; Carlton Fisk, 1972; Johnny Bench, 1968; Tony Oliva, 1964; Willie McCovey, 1959; Orlando Cepeda, 1958; Willie Mays, 1951;

Where do you think Trout ranks among the greatest rookie seasons ever? Share your thoughts on the poll!

2012 MLB Mid-Season Awards

Courtesy: ESPN.com

This is where I come in and embarrass myself by making absurd predictions, but they are predictions that I feel are worthy.

NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

McCutchen was somewhat productive in April with a .302 AVG and .351 OBP, but it was pretty empty, just seven RBI and six extra-base hits – none of them home runs. Then, May led to an absolute eruption for McCutchen. Since the start of May, he has hit .383/.443/.706 with 11 2B, five triples, 16 home runs, 49 RBI, and 9 steals. In that time period, the Pirates have gone 36-25, taking the lead in the NL Central away from the Cincinnati Reds. At the age of 25, McCutchen is a total beast, capable of hitting for power, average, and running like crazy. You don’t have to run when you’re trotting around the bases, though.

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

When Mike Trout arrived in Anaheim to stay on April 28, the Angels were struggling. Without Albert Pujols producing and the lack of an identity, they were 6-14, nine games out in the AL West and in last place. However, they are 40-24 since Trout arrived, sitting four games back of Texas in the AL West. Trout would be the first rookie MVP since Fred Lynn in 1995, and he totally deserves it. The All-Star outfielder leads the AL in batting average (.347) and steals (26), while Trout has amassed 15 2B, three triples, 11 home runs, 39 RBI, and 55 runs scored in just 62 games. If it seems like he has two or three hits per night and a couple of runs scored, it isn’t a surprise. He has 28 multi-hit games and 14 games with at least two runs scored. He is a machine and at just 20 (he doesn’t turn 21 until August 7), he is only going to get better.

NL Cy Young: Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

You can call me a homer if you’d like to, as I live about 30 minutes north of Cincinnati, but Cueto deserves some praise, and he certainly isn’t going to get it from Tony LaRussa. He leads the NL in ERA (2.35) and has gone 18-10 with a 2.33 ERA over his last 41 starts. He won’t get the publicity of R.A. Dickey due to the lack of a crappy career like Dickey had before deciding to show up in his tenth attempt at mattering as a starting pitcher in the Majors, but he deserves some love, so I’m giving it to him. If he continues to pitch so well, he could win a few more games and matter to all of those people who only look at wins for a Cy Young candidate.

AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

If Sale makes it through the whole season without an injury and continues pitching like he has to this point, he has to win the award. The injury concern is present, as he had a tender elbow and was moved to the bullpen for one appearance before the Sox moved him back to the rotation. The 23-year-old lefty is 2nd in the AL in wins (10), 2nd in ERA in the AL (2.19), 2nd in WHIP (0.95), and has an impressive 98:25 K:BB in 102.2 innings. The White Sox are in first place and this surprising, young arm has a lot to do with it.

NL Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper

Anthony Rizzo could win it if he continues hitting the way that he has since his promotion for the Chicago Cubs (.386/.400/.750), but as his sample size grows, his numbers will shrink. Harper is only 19 and he is in the All-Star game, having replaced injured Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. He has a .283/.355/.475 line with 15 2B, four triples, eight home runs, 25 RBI, and eight steals. The National League has a lot of young talent, with Harper, Arizona left-handed pitcher Wade Miley, Cincinnati super-sub Todd Frazier, Cincinnati shortstop Zack Cozart, and Colorado slugging catcher Wilin Rosario, but Harper’s skills and his ability to help lead his team to the NL East title will help him separate from the pack in the second half.

AL Rookie of the Year: See Mike Trout, above, AL MVP

Duh. Sorry Yu.

NL Manager of the Year: Terry Collins, New York Mets

At 46-39, 4.5 games out of first in the NL East (good for 2nd place), the Mets are the surprise team in the NL this season. After going 77-85 and finishing 4th in the East in 2011, the team lost Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, then they still had to deal with the fact that Jason Bay was on their roster. No way they got better, right? Wrong. With Johan Santana’s resurgically re-glued shoulder actually holding up and R.A. Dickey finding the fountain of youth on his offseason mountain hikes, the Mets matter again. Collins is a miracle worker. Play Scott Hairston every day and they could be in first…just saying.

AL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore is 45-38 and in 2nd in the AL East. They’ve begun to slide a little recently, having to replace three starters in their rotation due to being terrible, and they’ve dealt with a fair share of injuries, including to starters Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis in the outfield. If they can tread water while they get injuries under control and starters get things rolling again, there is no reason to the believe that there isn’t something magical that could happen in Baltimore this season. Adam Jones is a superstar and Matt Wieters is a star in the making, if you don’t consider him one already, so they have the pieces to matter.

NL Biggest Surprise: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets

What do you get when you get a guy who climbs Mt. Kilamanjaro and mix him with an 80-mph knuckleball? You get a 37-year-old starting pitcher who is 12-1 with a 2.40 ERA, 123:28 K:BB in 120 innings, and a Cy Young candidate. After never having won more than 11 games in a single season coming into 2012, Dickey has already eclipsed that mark before the break. He has been a different pitcher since arriving in New York, going 31-23 with a 2.92 ERA over 75 starts, so I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising; however, I still can’t believe what he is doing, especially with his control and strikeout totals, with a knuckleball.

AL Biggest Surprise: Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels

He was supposed to be the odd-man out with the Albert Pujols signing, or so many thought, but Trumbo has been the biggest force this side of Mike Trout for the Angels in 2012. After posting a .254/.291/.477 line last season and an attrocious 120:25 K:BB in 539 AB in 2011, Trumbo is sporting a .307/.361/.607 line and a 63:22 K:BB in 280 AB in 2012. His patience has improved and his power is for real. While many considered him an afterthought this spring, including myself, Trumbo has become an All-Star calibur player on a team with two young superstars.

NL Biggest Fantasy Bust: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

Instead of yelling “Freak”, fans may be yelling “you freaking suck,” at Lincecum, as his nickname now brings questions as to whether his ability to pitch with such odd mechanics is finally settling in. Lincecum is 3-9 with a 6.08 ERA in 2012, but the strange number is that his 101:49 K:BB in 93.1 innings is still solid, though the walks are at a 4.7 BB/9 (which would be a career high). Lincecum’s career high for earned runs was 81 in 2010 and he has already allowed 63 earned runs in just 17 starts, so he’ll easily establish a career worst there. If he allowed one earned run over seven innings in each of his next 16 starts, his ERA would still be 3.46, his highest since his 4.00 ERA in his rookie year.

AL Biggest Fantasy Bust: Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians

After hitting 27 home runs last season, Santana was bound to explode, especially after hitting just .239 in 2011 with a BABIP of just .263…not the case. Santana is hitting just .219 with a BABIP of just .266 in 2012, so he is not anywhere near the top ranked fantasy catcher that many expected him to be. He may still have a solid eye at the plate and has improved defensively, but that doesn’t help anyone in pretend baseball.