In continuing our preseason awards series, we have arrived at the boring one. Sorry about that, but these things happen. Sometimes the pick is too obvious and the drama is lacking. This is one of those times.
On Sunday, I ran down our list of the The Nine Best AL Starters for 2013 and there are a lot of great names on that list. Felix Hernandez, David Price, Yu Darvish, and my breakout pick Matt Moore are all going to make a run at the top pitching honor in the AL, but the award will be outside their grasp.
And the award will go to…
Justin Verlander (SP – Tigers)
You knew this was coming. Verlander enters his eighth major league season as the front man of one of the best, if not the best, rotations in all of baseball. He’s been a machine and continues to mix dominance with durability.
He has run off four 6 WAR or better season in a row and has a Cy Young and MVP from his 2011 campaign. Heck, he should have won another Cy Young last season.
Verlander is the best pitcher on the planet, and there are really only a handful of guys who really compare. Anything can happen, but it usually doesn’t. Usually, Goliath beats David and the Soviet Union wins the 1980 Gold Medal.
This seems like one of those times. Justin Verlander is simply too good at throwing a baseball to not pick him for the Cy Young. I just couldn’t pick anyone else, even if I wanted to. It’s certainly possible that he doesn’t win the award in 2013, but if I picked anyone else I would simply be making a bold prediction just for the sake of doing so, and I hate people who do that.
Justin Verlander is the best starting pitcher in the American League until someone proves otherwise.
Yesterday I wrote on the subject of NL Rookie of the Year and pointed out a good preseason candidate is a talented player with a clear path to playing time. Such a player is actually pretty hard to find in both leagues and I found it to be tougher in the American League.
Surprisingly tough. So tough, in fact, that I violated one of the conditions and went for talent alone along with what I believe to be a path to meaningful playing time even if it isn’t full playing time.
There are a ton of great prospects on AL teams, but this one should be the best in 2013. Heck, he should have been up a year ago.
And the award will go to…
Wil Myers (RF – Rays)
Myers was the centerpiece of the Royals’ trade for James Shields this offseason and I was among those to believe it was a foolish move for Kansas City. Myers has the ability to hit and hit for power while playing solid defense in a corner outfield spot. And he’s ready to do it now. He’s not a prospect who needs a lot of seasoning, he’s one who’s ready to contribute.
He should do so this season for the Rays whenever they decide to call him up. It will happen in one of three ways. A key player on the MLB club will get hurt and they’ll need him, he’ll sign a team friendly extension, or June 1st will roll around and his arbitration clock will get pushed back a season. At any rate, Myers figures to get four months or more in the show this year and they should be good enough to earn him some hardware.
He hit 37 homeruns last season to go with his .316/.389/.602 slash line between AA and AAA. He’s a little heavy on the strikeouts but balances it with a lot of walks too. The typical comparison for Myers is a right handed Jay Bruce.
And he’s just 22 years old. Myers is not just the best prospect on the Rays, he’s one of the five or six best in the entire sport. Jurickson Profar is another AL prospect who comes to mind for the 2013 season, but his path to playing time is blocked by All-Stars while Myers is blocked by Matt Joyce, Kelly Johnson, or Luke Scott. Mostly, he’s blocked by service time.
The power hitting outfielder should get a few swings in the minor leagues this Spring before getting the call to St. Pete, but once he’s there he will be there to stay. Myers looks to pair nicely with Evan Longoria in the middle of the Rays order for years to come.
Barring injury, either to Myers or to one of the players keeping Profar out of the lineup in Texas, the smart money is on Myers to claim the Rookie of the Year honors.