MLB 2013: Top Five National League Rookie of the Year Candidates

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MLB: Top Five National League Rookie of the Year Candidates For 2013

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Mike Trout and Bryce Harper took the baseball world by storm last season, as both lived up to the hype and were named Rookie of the Year in their respective leagues.

The 2013 rookie class does not have anyone with the notoriety attached to Trout or Harper, but quite frankly few years in major league history have had two such high profile Rookie of the Year candidates virtually from the start of the season. Trout was also in the conversation for American League MVP, and without a Triple Crown winner (Miguel Cabrera) he may have won that award as well.

Even without big names like Harper and Trout in this year’s rookie crop, there are plenty of intriguing players in both leagues that can be considered legit Rookie of the Year contenders.

Opening the season in the big leagues can be an advantage for Rookie of the Year contenders, but spending time in the minors early in the season is not a black mark on a player’s candidacy. The latest example of that is Trout, as he was not called up until late April and still put up the numbers he did (.326, 30 home runs, 83 RBI, 49 stolen bases, 129 runs scored).

When forming this particular list, I have focused on potential Rookie of the Year candidates in the National League. It’s possible, and even likely, that someone we are not aware of will emerge during the season and this list has a good chance to look much different if I were to put it together in August.

But for now, with spring training getting ever closer, here are my top five National League Rookie of the Year candidates for 2013.

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5. Shelby Miller, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

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Miller’s overall performance in Triple-A last season (11-10, 4.74 ERA) is a bit of a concern, but a strong August (2.89 ERA) earned him a promotion to the big leagues in September. He pitched predominantly out of the bullpen for the Cardinals (one start in six appearances) and also made two relief appearances during the NLCS. Miller is a legit candidate for a starting rotation spot right out of the gate, and if that occurs his chances for success look good.

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4. Tyler Skaggs, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks

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Skaggs was not overly impressive after being called up last season, with a 5.83 ERA over six appearances for the Diamondbacks, but he has a career minor league ERA of 2.98 and more experience may be all he needs to transfer that success to the big leagues. The young left-hander should get a chance to earn a spot in Arizona’s starting rotation right out of the gate this year, and even with some potential ups-and-downs a good season could be coming.

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3. Travis d'Arnaud, C, New York Mets

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d’Arnaud was acquired by the Mets from the Toronto Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey trade, and he is considered the front runner to step as their No. 1 catcher. He missed the end of last season with a knee injury, but he hit .333 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI despite playing in just 67 games for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate. There is a chance d’Arnaud starts the season in the minors, but his power potential should put him on the Rookie of the Year radar as soon as he hits the big leagues.

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2. Darin Ruf, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

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Ruf hit 38 home runs in Double-A last season, and followed that up with a strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League. He did see 33 at-bats late in the season with the Phillies, and all indications are he will get every chance to be the team’s primary left fielder in 2013. Ruf’s spring training performance will be worth watching, but barring something unforeseen there's a good chance he is in the conversation for National League Rookie of the Year all season.

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1. Jedd Gyorko, 3B/2B, San Diego Padres

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With Chase Headley blocking his path at third base, Gyorko is expected to compete for the starting job at second base for San Diego during spring training. He had a big 2012 season, hitting .311 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI between Double-A and Triple-A, so he should get every chance to open the season in the majors. Gyorko's offensive upside, and the strong likelihood of a starting job right off the bat, is more than enough for him to earn the top spot on this list.

Brad Berreman is contributing writer at Rant Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman 24 or add him to your network on Google