Top 15 MLB Rookies of 2012
The 15 Best Rookies
Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Tom Seaver. These are names of some of the most iconic baseball players to ever play their game. Their faces are forever enshrined in Cooperstown, New York at the Baseball Hall of Fame for generations to see. We remember the home run swings, unbelievable defensive plays, and fast ball strike outs to end a game. It’s hard to imagine any one of them as a knobby kneed kid getting ready to step out onto a major league field for the first time.
But they’ve all been there.
Just as some of this year’s new class of rookies have done this past year, those all-time greats took their rookie years as a chance to make a statement to all of baseball. As if to say, “You may not know my name now, but you will soon enough.”
Some players jump start their hall of fame careers from the get go, as Ted Williams did during his rookie season in 1939 (at this point the Rookie of the Year award had not been around). He sure came out swinging; hitting .327 that season with 31 home runs, leading the entire MLB with 145 RBIs.
Some players just don’t have their best stuff in their first year. Like Hall of Famer, Dave Winfield, who hit .277 with only 12 RBIs and three home runs. Who would have thought he would go on to be a 12x All Star?
And then some players have it all their rookie year, but that’s pretty much where it ends, like AL Rookie of the Year, Mark Fidrych. Nicknamed “The Bird”, and an immediate fan favorite, Fidrych went 19-9 with an AL best 2.34 ERA during his rookie season. Unfortunately a couple of injuries contributed to his lack of success after his dominant first season, and he only pitched 27 more games in his career, going 10-11.
Only time will tell which category this year’s rookies will end up in, but what we do know is that these following 15 rookies certainly made a statement during the 2012 season.
15. Ryan Cook, Oakland Athletics
Although Ryan Cook didn't have a great postseason, which included a blown save, througout the season he was solid in both the set up and closer positions. He ended the season with a 6-2 record, 21 saves, and an incredible 80 strikeouts in 73 innings of work. He also only yielded 27 walks. Another impressive stat is that he only gave up four home runs all year.
14. Yonder Alonso, San Diego Padres
Since the San Diego Padres traded Anthony Rizzo away, Yonder Alonso got the opportunity to play first base full time this year. Even though he had a minor hamstring issue in June, Alonso put up some nice numbers at the plate. He hit .273 with 62 RBIs and 9 home runs. He led rookies with 39 doubles.
13. Todd Frazier, Cinncinnati Reds
I know most people would put Todd Frazier a lot higher on this list, as his name is certainly thrown around for NL ROY contention, but I'm not sold just yet as he had a cool month of September, hitting just .181, and an even cooler ALDS where he went 1 for 6. Because he's been bouncing around from left field to third base to first base, I think once he gets settled in to a position, we can see where his true numbers will lie.
12. Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners
I don't always think the amount of wins a pitcher has is relavant to how good he is because so much relies on the team behind him. Hisashi Iwakuma went 9-5, but had an impressive 3.16 ERA. He also struck out 101 batters in 125 innings.
11. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
Anthony Rizzo has made a name for himself with the Chicago Cubs, which is impressive since they managed to lose over 100 games this year. But Rizzo managed to make the most of his situation. He hit .285 this season with 45 RBIs and 15 home runs in just 87 games.
In July of this season he led NL rookies in hits, RBIs, home runs, and total bases, which led him to be named July's NL Rookie of the Month. It will be fun to see what he can do in a whole season
10. Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee Brewers
Coming over from a Japanese league, Norichika Aoki had no problem fitting into the MLB. His opportunity to play more often came due to injuries on the team, and he took advantage of his time. He hit .288 with 10 home runs and 50 RBIs on the season. He also had 30 stolen bases, and one of his home runs was actually an inside the park home run, so you can see that he has speed.
9. Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics
One of the few pitchers I know who has five pitches, Jarrod Parker sure knows how to use them as you can see by the 140 strikeouts he has on the season. He finished the season with a 13-8 record and 3.47 ERA. He was flirting with a no-hitter in June against the Texas Rangers, but that was broken up in the eighth inning.
8. Wilin Rosario
Although his average is only at .270, Wilin Rosario led NL rookies in home runs with 28 and RBIs with 71. It makes me wonder why he isn't talked about more often. Rosario was named catcher on the Baseball America All-Rookie Team.
7. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Another name that most people would probably put on higher on the list than I would is Bryce Harper, since many seem to think he will win the NL ROY award. He did have decent statistics: .270 BA, 59 RBI, and 22 home runs, but I don't know if that is award worthy. What is nice about Harper is his arm. He has one of the best, if not the best arm in the outfield right now.
6. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
Look, you don't get to pitch in the Olympics or World Baseball Classic if you're not a great pitcher. Yu Darvish was already considered by many to be the best pitcher in Japan before coming to the MLB this season. He was named AL Rookie of the Month for April where he went 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA and had 33 strikeouts. He finished the season 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA. He was also seventh in all of MLB with his 221 strikeouts.
5. Jordan Pacheco, Colorado Rockies
Jordan Pacheco led the NL rookies with a .309 batting average this season, which is the highest a Colorado Rockies rookie has ever finished. He also had a slugging percentage of .421. He would probably gain more attention if he hadn't had so many defensive issues, which hopefully he'll work on for next season.
4. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
With some players departing, and others being injured, Matt Carpenter had the opportuniy to showcase himself this season. Switching between first base and right field, Carpenter managed to play in 114 games this season while posting a .294 batting average and 46 RBIs. He got his first career postseason home run during game 3 of the 2012 NLCS when he came off the bench to replace Carlos Beltran after his injury.
3. Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks
Most consider him the leader of the NL ROY race, and it's clear to see why. Wade Miley looks like he's a seasoned pro. Posting a 16-11 record with a 3.33 ERA and had 144 strikeouts, Miley was named NL Rookie of the Month in April where he went 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA. He was also named to the All-Star team this year as he ended the first half of the season at 9-5 with a 3.04 ERA.
2. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics
Had it been any other year when there weren't so many quality rookies to chose from, Yoenis Cespedes would definitely be getting more attention. Before coming to the MLB, Cespedes played several years in the Cuban leagues. His first year with the MLB would prove to be a good one as he hit .292 with 82 RBIs (second amongst rookies only to Mike Trout), 23 home runs, and 25 doubles.
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
ROY, MVP, heck even give him the Cy Young. There's no question that Mike Trout has been the star of this season. He led the entire American League in runs scored and stolen bases. He is the youngest player to hit 20 home runs and have 40 stolen bases in a season. He was named AL Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month in July. He hit .326 with 83 RBIs, 30 home runs, 27 doubles, and 49 stolen bases.
This might sound crazy, but Mike Trout could be the next Ken Griffey Jr., if (big if) he continues to play this way. And as we still try to push away remnants of the steroid era, Mike Trout could be the player to bring us into the next era of baseball.