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.
The Rookie of the Year award is one of the most interesting awards to discuss at the end of the season most years because it can mean so many different things. It could be the most valuable rookie, the rookie who played the best during his time in the show, or a rookie who had a good season and looks to have a brighter future.
Predicting who is going to win at the outset of the season is quite difficult most seasons because it is so hard to determine playing time. Oscar Taveras, the Cardinals outfielder, is likely the best player in the NL with rookie status this season, but his path to playing time is blocked. If Carlos Beltran breaks his ankle tomorrow, things change quite a bit.
So when choosing a preseason Rookie of the Year, one must look for talent and one must look for consistent at bats or innings. We at SABR Toothed Tigers considered a number of candidates for this award including Taveras, but ultimately settled on who we consider to be the talented rookie with the clearest path to a full season of playing time.
And the award will go to…
Adam Eaton (CF – Diamondbacks)
With Justin Upton and Chris Young out of the picture, Cody Ross will slide to right field this season for the Dbacks, giving Eaton a chance to take the everyday job in center. The newly 24 year old Eaton looks to solidify the leadoff spot this season and brings above average regular potential to the table.
Most scouts don’t consider him to have superstar potential, but he could be a very solid major leaguer for years to come. Eaton is very good on defense with excellent speed and a great arm that will play at any of the three outfield spots.
He’s stolen 40 or more bases in each of the last two seasons across multiple levels and has consistently put up a better than .300 average and .400 on base in the minor leagues. His 5’8” frame isn’t built for power, but if you’re looking for a speedy leadoff hitter who plays great defense, Eaton is your guy.
He’s a very good player with little left to prove in the minor leagues and should have an everyday spot on a decent to good big league team. It’s hard to find a lot of other NL players who fit that bill. The Mets and Cardinals have pitchers who could contribute in a big way, but there is more uncertainty there in my opinion. The Padres Jed Gyrko is another candidate, but he’s playing on a lesser club in a tougher park, all while likely playing a new position. He gave Eaton a run for his money in our voting, but came up short.
Adam Eaton has hit at every level and looks poised for a strong rookie campaign in a field of players with difficult paths to full seasons of playing time. He’s not an MVP type player like Mike Trout was last year, but when 2013 is over, he’ll get his hands on some hardware of his own.
With the 2012 season behind us, it’s time for some housekeeping here at SABR Toothed Tigers. Shortly before the World Series, we published my 2012 predictions as heard on The Guy Show for how the divisions and awards would play out.
Now it’s time to hand out some hardware.
Rookies of the Year:
Preseason Prediction: Matt Moore (LHP-Tampa Bay Rays)
Moore was one of the top prospects in baseball in 2011 no matter who you asked and burst onto the scene in grand fashion in the postseason last year. He was a popular pick heading into the season and I certainly thought he’d be a top contender for the award. Moore had some growing pains in 2012, but he actually did have a respectable season.
Moore made 31 starts and posted an 11-11 record in 177.1 innings with a K/9 of 8.88. He walked too many (4.11 per 9IP), but a 3.81 ERA and 3.91 FIP is a strong season for a young rookie lefthander. He posted a 2.3 WAR which was 5th among AL rookie pitchers (4th if you don’t count the seasoned Yu Darvish).
Moore’s season was nothing to sneeze at, but it was a far cry from earning him AL Rookie of the Year honors.
The Award Goes To…
Mike Trout. Obviously. Other rookies had good seasons. Darvish, Jarrod Parker, and Tommy Milone from the mound. Yoenis Cespedes from the batter’s box. But, seriously, Mike Trout ran circles around everyone in this year’s award.
Trout posted an historic 10.0 WAR in 2012 which not only put him atop all American League rookies, it put him above every single player in Major League Baseball. Only three rookies have ever top 8.0 WAR, and none have ever exceeded Trout’s 10.0. The voting will be unanimous when the BBWAA hands out the award, but let’s just hit some numbers quickly just for good measure.
Trout led AL rookies in the following categories (these are just the ones I felt like looking up): hits, homeruns, runs, runs batted in, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, weighted on base average (wOBA), weighted runs created plus (wRC+), UZR, BSR (baserunning metric), and WAR. Pretty open and shut if you ask me.
The full ballot looks like this:
3. Yoenis Cespedes (OF-Oak)
2. Yu Darvish (SP-TEX)
1. Mike Trout (OF-LAA)
Preseason Prediction: Devin Mesoraco (C-Cincinnati Reds)
Mesoraco was another popular pick in 2012, so I was not the only one to miss wildly. Mesoraco played in 54 games and posted a pretty terrible 0.1 WAR. The .212/.288/.352 slash line doesn’t help either. The defense was unremarkable and the offense didn’t do anything to make up for it.
I wouldn’t call Mesoraco a bust by any means, but the 24 year old backstop will need to find his form if he wants to catch 120+ games next season. His minor league numbers certainly speak to his talent, so there’s plenty still to like about the Reds catcher.
The Award Goes To…
This one was a little tougher. Okay, a lot tougher. Two clear candidates emerged in my book: Bryce Harper and Wade Miley. Todd Frazier was an option as well, but he’ll have to settle for 3rd place.
Rookie of the Year can be a difficult award to hand out because you’re often comparing players who have totally different jobs. Harper hits second for a contending team and Miley is a starter on a middle of the pack club.
Their WARs were nearly identical at 4.9 for Harper and 4.8 for Miley. Harper played 139 games, got 597 plate appearances and turned those into the following statistical profile:
22 HR, 59 RBI, 98 R, 18 SB, .270/.340/.477, .352 wOBA, 121 wRC+, 9.9 UZR.
Miley made 29 starts and 3 relief appearance totaling 194.2 innings. His line looks something like this:
16-11, 6.66 K/9, 1.71 BB/9, 3.33 ERA, 3.15 FIP
Again, their WARs are almost identical and they have a totally different role. Statistically, it’s hard to really separate the two. I’m going to throw my support to Wade Miley for the following reason, but a vote for Harper is absolutely warranted.
Harper excelled amid a good team having a great year, while Miley picked up the slack for a decent rotation. Miley was the Dbacks best starter by a good margin. Harper was the Nats second best bat, but they also had such a great staff to back them up.
There’s nothing particularly objective about that reasoning, but it’s hard to make an objective case for either of them. I feel pretty confident that Harper and Miley should be 1st and 2nd on the NL ROY ballot, but I really don’t know what order they should be in.
The full ballot looks like this:
3. Todd Frazier (3B, 1B, OF – CIN)
2. Bryce Harper (OF- WSH)
1. Wade Miley (SP-ARZ)
Check back Wednesday for Cy Young winners.