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Handicapping the AL Rookie of the Year race

Apr 1, 2013, 1:50 AM EDT

Aaron Hicks AP

Bringing back something I used to do each year for fun, here’s a look at the American League Rookie of the Year possibilities, with odds posted for several of the favorites. I’ll follow suit with the National League tomorrow.

Please note: Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin is ineligible for Rookie of the Year honors. He spent too much time in the majors last season. Otherwise, he’d likely be the second favorite.

Mike Olt (1B-3B Rangers) – 25:1 – Olt was being considered for a bench spot entering spring training, but a poor showing (.194/.324/.419 in 31 AB) got him sent down to play everyday. Since he’s 24, that’s the right move anyway. Olt would be starting at third base for a few teams right now, and he’s also an option at first base and maybe in the outfield corners in case injuries begin piling up in Texas. Alternatively, he could be the team’s best trade bait if it needs help in July. If he has to wait until then, it’ll probably be too late for a ROY bid.

Projection: .241/.327/.408, 12 HR, 40 R, 42 RBI, 3 SB in 316 AB

Dylan Bundy (RHP Orioles) – 20:1 – Bundy would have gotten better odds if not for the presence of Orioles 2012 first-round pick Kevin Gausman, who might have taken his place in line for a May callup. Bundy remains the game’s No. 1 pitching prospect, but Gausman is closing in on a spot on the top five, and Gausman is probably the more polished of the two, having been drafted out of LSU. Bundy, a high school product drafted fourth overall in 2011, went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA and a 119/29 K/BB ratio in 103 2/3 IP in the minors last year, topping out in Double-A. He’s a phenomenal talent, but since he’ll be limited to around 150 innings this year, he’ll only have so much of a chance to show what he can do.

Projection: 8-5, 3.88 ERA, 1.321 WHIP, 112 Ks in 109 IP

Carter Capps (RHP Mariners) – 20:1 – Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen was shaky towards the end of the spring, giving up six runs in his final six innings. Capps, on the other hand, was just about untouchable, allowing one earned run and striking out 13 in nine innings overall. I fully expect him to emerge as the Mariners’ long-term closer, and while that might not happen at any point during this year, he’s a sleeper candidate here. Rookie of the Year voters love their saves.

Projection: 4-3, 7 Sv, 3.16 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 79 Ks in 68 1/3 IP

Chris Archer (RHP Rays) – 15:1 – The Rays are always thinking long-term with their rookies, and that usually means keeping them on the farm for a couple of extra months, even when they look ready. Archer allowed just one hit in seven scoreless innings during the early part of the spring, but the Rays quickly sent him down and proceeded with Roberto Hernandez and Jeff Niemann as their fifth-starter candidates. It’s Hernandez’s job now, but Archer should be the answer come June. If he were up now, he’d be my ROY pick.

Projection: 7-4, 3.82 ERA, 1.334 WHIP, 94 Ks in 96 2/3 IP

Wil Myers (OF Rays) – 12:1 – As soon as the Rays traded James Shields to the Royals for Myers, it was a given that the slugger wouldd spend that he’d spend this first month or two in Triple-A to limit his service time. Myers doesn’t really have much left to prove in Triple-A after hitting 24 homers in 99 games there last year. Overall, he hit .314/.387/.600 with 37 homers in 134 games at two levels. Still, it would be nice to see him cut back on the strikeouts a bit; he fanned 140 times last year. He figures to take over as the Rays’ right fielder in June.

Projection: .240/.312/.429, 15 HR, 47 R, 56 RBI, 2 SB in 366 AB

Brandon Maurer (RHP Mariners) – 12:1 – Supposedly behind Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton in the Mariners chain, Maurer pulled off a stunner in securing a spot in Seattle’s rotation this spring. The 22-year-old showed a strong slider in striking out 25 in 24 innings during the Cactus League season, and he’s always had very good command. He may not have the upside of Walker or Hultzen, but it looks like he’ll be a solid choice to put behind them come 2014 and ’15.

Projection: 9-10, 4.19 ERA, 1.366 WHIP, 126 Ks in 161 IP

Jurickson Profar (2B-SS Rangers) – 9:1 – Now that the Rangers have reportedly chosen to commit to Elvis Andrus for a whopping eight years, Profar’s future appears to be at second base, with Ian Kinsler moving to first base or an outfield corner. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers try to pull that off during the season; asking an All-Star to suddenly switch positions in May or June isn’t something that happens often. Profar, though, will force the Rangers to make a move soon enough. He’s one of their nine best players right now, and the Rangers have too much competition in the AL West to not use their best players.

Projection: .263/.330/.412, 8 HR, 51 R, 42 RBI, 11 SB in 376 AB

Bruce Rondon (RHP Tigers) – 8:1 – Last year was the first year since 2008 that a Rookie of the Year award was not won by a closer (Andrew Bailey in 2009, Neftali Feliz in 2010, Craig Kimbrel in 2011). Rondon was demoted to Triple-A following a very shaky spring, but the Tigers are still hoping he’ll run away with the ninth-inning gig at some point this season. If it happens by May 15, he’d still be a candidate for 30 saves, which would likely lead to at least a top-three finish in the balloting.]

Projection: 2-2, 11 Sv, 3.86 ERA, 1.393 WHIP, 50 Ks in 46 2/3 IP

Jackie Bradley (OF Red Sox) – 6:1 – Arguably the breakout star of the Grapefruit League, Bradley hit .419/.507/.613 in 62 at-bats to make the Red Sox as their left fielder with David Ortiz out. If he hits, he’s going to have to stay when Ortiz returns; it’s not like Jonny Gomes was ever a good plan as a starting left fielder anyway. However, if he doesn’t get off to a fast start, the Red Sox will probably return to the original plan of giving him some Triple-A time. Such a move would push back his free agency an extra year. My guess is that he does wind up back in the minors, at least for a month or so.

Projection: .267/.340/.407, 9 HR, 54 R, 45 RBI, 11 SB in 378 AB

The field – 5:1 – Trevor Bauer (RHP Indians), Kevin Gausman (RHP Orioles), Dan Straily (RHP Athletics), Hiroyuki Nakajima (SS Athletics), Martin Perez (LHP Rangers), Nick Tepesch (RHP Rangers), Jonathan Schoop (2B-SS Orioles), Kyle Gibson (RHP Twins), Danny Hultzen (LHP Mariners), Mike Zunino (C Mariners), Nick Castellanos (OF Tigers), Brandon Guyer (OF Rays), Avisail Garcia (OF Tigers), Austin Romine (C Yankees), Nate Freiman (1B Athletics), Jonathan Singleton (1B Astros), Grant Green (2B-OF Athletics), Taijuan Walker (RHP Mariners), Allen Webster (RHP Red Sox)

Aaron Hicks (OF Twins) – 4:1 – As the lone AL rookie set to get 550 at-bats, Hicks is the safest of the Rookie of the Year picks. The 23-year-old is jumping from Double-A to the majors after hitting .370/.407/.644 with four homers and three steals this spring to beat out Darin Mastroianni and Joe Benson for the Twins’ center field job. Hicks hit a modest .271 in five minor league seasons, but he offers a strong walk rate, emerging power and a strong glove in center field. I don’t see him wowing as a rookie, but I’m also not sure anyone will overtake him.

Projection: .257/.334/.392, 11 HR, 83 R, 48 RBI, 23 SB in 544 AB

  1. buffalomafia - Apr 1, 2013 at 4:41 AM

    Is Hamilton of the Reds still considered a rookie?

    • darthicarus - Apr 1, 2013 at 7:50 AM

      Yes, and I know he’s a good base stealer but I don’t think he can steal the AL ROY.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:01 AM

        Wouldn’t be the first time a Red got ROY votes he wasn’t eligible for.

    • paperlions - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:06 AM

      Hamilton has played 0 games in the majors, I’ll have to check the official rules to see if that still qualifies him for rookie status.

      • proudlycanadian - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:20 AM

        While you are at it, kindly check to see if a NL rookie can win the AL ROY?

      • paperlions - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:20 AM

        Sure thing, I’ll be…right back!

      • proudlycanadian - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:21 AM

        Thanks!

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:50 AM

        That dude can steal ANYTHING.

      • spudchukar - Apr 1, 2013 at 11:18 AM

        Uh, he hasn’t been able to steal his way onto a major league roster.

  2. drinkpeepee - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    Was flabbergasted that Machado wasn’t on the list, so I looked it up and found this:

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-09-17/sports/bal-baltimore-orioles-rookie-manny-machado-will-not-be-eligible-to-be-a-rookie-next-season-20120917_1_manny-machado-orioles-lefty-wei-yin-chen-double-a-bowie

    • jarathen - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:52 AM

      Mike Trout was THIS close to not qualifying as a rookie last year. I’m still not sure MLB didn’t make an exception, though not without good cause.

      • geoknows - Apr 1, 2013 at 10:31 AM

        MLB has nothing to do with the Rookie of the Year award. It’s an award given by the Baseball Writers Association of America. MLB has no input into who is or is not eligible – and, in fact, by MLB service time rules, Trout was not a rookie. However, the BBWAA said that, by their standards, he was.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 1, 2013 at 10:56 AM

        MLB restored his rookie status after the 2011 season. There was a technicality that would have made him ineligible.

        http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/12/02/mlb-restores-mike-trouts-rookie-status/

      • jarathen - Apr 1, 2013 at 11:40 AM

        Thanks, asimonetti.I thought it was something like that.

  3. drinkpeepee - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    And, buffalomafia, Hamilton isn’t found in this post because it handicaps the AL ROY race.

    • jm91rs - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:53 AM

      I suspect he won’t be on the NL list either. It seems unlikely that he’ll be up anytime before the All Star Break (barring injury), and half a season won’t be enough to win the award.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    Bundy with the forearm tightness. I can’t remember the last time that turned out well. I suppose the good news is that he will still be a rookie in 2014 after TJS rehab.

    Can guys lose rookie status if they accrue service time on the DL?

    • Kevin S. - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      No, they accrue service time on the ML DL, but rookie status is based on actual games on the 25.

  5. 13arod - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    no hamlitln is not considered a rookiw because never played in majors buffalomafia

  6. buffalomafia - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Thanks

  7. ndnut - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Hicks will hopefully be the sunshine in a loooong season. I will kind of miss Ben Revere, but Hicks’ arm strength will be a vast improvement.

  8. coryfor3 - Apr 1, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    We will see who gets plucked from the minor leagues in the next couple of months. More important than winning the award?….Service time.

  9. hermie13 - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Bauer as part of the field when Rondon is one of the favorites??

    Tribe rotation is very weak and Bauer should be up in May.

  10. coloradostupid - Apr 1, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Jackie Bradley? His 1st major league at bat was AWSOME against CC. Pitch selection was OUTSTANDING. CC walked him on about 8 pitches. He never swung at a ball.

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