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

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Top 5 American League Rookie of the Year Candidates For 2013

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Baseball’s 2013 rookie class will be hard-pressed to live up to the hype that surrounded last year’s Rookie of the Year winners, as both Mike Trout and Bryce Harper entered the season with plenty of attention and largely proved worthy of it.

At first glance the 2013 class of rookies in the American League does not have someone on Trout’s level, but quite frankly there aren’t many young players in his class right now in either league. So to expect someone to repeat Trout’s performance in 2012, when he was also a legitimate MVP candidate, is at minimum unrealistic.

There are plenty of legitimate candidates for American League Rookie of the Year at this point, and surely one or more players that are not on the radar right now will surface during the season. Candidates are not necessarily disregarded due to playing on a bad team, but performing in a prominent role for a playoff contender definitely doesn’t hurt.

Starting the season in the minors is also not a black mark on a player’s Rookie of the Year candidacy, and could even benefit the player in certain situations. Trout was not called up until late April last season, but still put up the numbers he did (.326, 30 home runs, 83 RBI, 49 stolen bases) as he stepped right in as an every-day player.

With preseason award watch lists likely to be coming out in full over the next few weeks, here are my top five candidates for American League Rookie of the Year for 2013.

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5. Bruce Rondon, RP, Detroit Tigers

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The Tigers have cut ties with Jose Valverde and have yet to add a veteran closer this offseason, so Rondon looks to be first in line for save opportunities right now. He has yet to pitch in the big leagues, but he did have 29 saves along with a 1.53 ERA and a 66:26 K/BB ratio over 53 innings pitched last season and has 65 saves over the last three seasons. If nothing else Detroit should supply whoever is closing games with plenty of save chances, so 40 saves is not out of the question for Rondon if he wins the job and holds it all season.

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4. Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

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Archer will likely enter spring training battling for a spot in the Rays’ starting rotation with Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb, but it’s possible two of the three will earn spots. Archer showed the ability to get major league hitters out during his stint with Tampa Bay last season, with a 11.0 K/9 over six appearances (four starts), so that alone may give him a leg up on his competition. Control has been a bit an issue for Archer (5.1 career BB/9 rate in the minors), but if he can harness that a little good all-around numbers should follow.

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3. Dan Straily, SP, Oakland Athletics

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Straily was simply dominant at Double-A and Triple-A in 2012, leading the minors in strikeouts with 190 along with a 2.78 ERA and a 2.5 BB/9 rate over 25 combined starts. He also made seven starts for Oakland late in the season, posting a 3.89 ERA over 39.1 innings despite allowing 11 home runs. All indications are Straily will at least get a chance to earn a rotation spot during spring training, and if he can continue the progress he showed last year he has a chance to stick all season.

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2. Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians

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Bauer earned a call to the big leagues late last season after just 29 professional starts, but he struggled (6.06 ERA) in four starts for the Arizona Diamondbacks and then was traded to the Cleveland Indians in December. Control issues from his brief time in the minors (4.2 BB/9) followed him to the big leagues (13 walks in 16.1 innings), but there is no reason for him not to earn a spot in Cleveland’s starting rotation right out of the gate this season. Leaving aside his idiosyncrasies, most notably a unique warmup routine, Bauer clearly has a lot of talent and should be in the conversation for American League Rookie of the Year all season .

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1. Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

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Myers emerged as one of the top prospects in all of baseball after a big 2012 season in the Kansas City Royals’ minor league system (.314, 37 home runs, 109 RBI), and he now has a chance to step right into a starting job for the Tampa Bay Rays after an offseason trade. He may start the season in Triple-A since has spent less than a full season at that level, but it will likely only be a matter of time before he arrives in the big leagues. Myers will be a popular pick for American League Rookie of the Year, and barring something unforeseen he will be a legit candidate throughout the season.