Handicapping the MLB Rookie of the Year Race

The rookie crop of 2013, while perhaps not as exciting as in years past in terms of Twitter-ready star power (Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, etc.) has a bevy of talent that should not be overlooked. This year’s class features some great pitching (Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller among others) as well as some .300 hitters (Wil Myers, Jose Iglesias) and some middle infielders (Nick Franklin, Andrelton Simmons) who are going to be fixtures at the top of their respective teams lineups for years to come. Let’s handicap the rookies chances of winning ROY trophies in their respective leagues. You’ll notice this year’s biggest challengers to bring home the ROY hardware tend to come from contending teams.

American League
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay – Odds 4:1. The Tampa Bay Rays always seem to have a rookie in the discussion, which is the by-product of their constant youth-enization of their roster. The Rays are constantly trading guys in their primes for other team’s top prospects. Last year, they traded away starter James Shields for Myers and a handful of others. Myers has been a godsend to the Rays. Skipper Joe Maddon has batted him everywhere from second to sixth. Myers has responded hitting .326 with nine homers and 37 RBI in 47 games. He’s stolen five bases and has a .904 OPS. He strikes out probably too much (46 whiffs) but has hit .367 with runners in scoring position. The big lights don’t faze him, and he doesn’t wear batting gloves. A good postseason performance will have Myers running away with the AL ROY.

Jose Iglesias, 3B-SS, Detroit – Odds 7:1. Rarely does a ROY challenger get traded mid-season but that’s exactly the story with Jose Iglesias, going from the Red Sox to the Tigers midseason. Iglesias was called up and came out of the gate smoking hitting like Ted Williams in his first 40 games. The Tigers pounced on the chance to acquire Iglesias as the PED suspensions claimed Jhonny Peralta. Iglesias is Omar Vizuel-lian in his fielding prowess, exhibiting good range and offensively he’s cooled down (.313 -2-22) and he’s hitting ninth in the lineup but he’s still plans on figuring in a postseason march; which could help him overtake Myers.

Honorable Mentions: 2B/SS Nick Franklin (.242-10-35), Mariners; SP Chris Archer (6-5,3.10 ERA) , Rays; C/1B Yan Gomes (.313-8-28), Indians; SP Dan Straily (6-6,4.19 ERA), Athletics

National League
The National League has clearly got a handful of exciting players that can/will be on All-Star rosters for years to come. These contenders for NL ROY include Jose Fernandez, Yasiel Puig, Julio Teheran, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Shelby Miller just to name a few.

Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers – Odds 3:1. The pomp and circumstance created by Yasiel Puig notwithstanding, the Dodgers, who were listless busts before he was called up June 3rd, are now 45-18 with him on the roster. They have been darn near unbeatable in July and August (40-8 since June 22nd) and are running away with the NL West. Puig, who’s hitting .368, has the highest batting average of anyone in the sport this year with over 250 plate appearances. He’s bashed 11 homers, stolen seven bases , hit seemingly twenty walkoffs this year and threw out bumbling base runners flatfooted from the wall. It’s all true, and he’s got Dodgerland amped up. The tools he possesses have made the injury issues of Matt Kemp an afterthought in Tinsel Town.

Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami – Odds 8:1. The Marlins (46-73) for all their faults continue to find talented youngsters right in their backyards. Of course Miami’s “backyard” also includes major talent hotbeds without US zip codes. They picked a winner in Jose Fernandez. He’s a top of the rotation type guy who, right now at age 21, is one of the most unhittable pitchers in baseball. He sports a 1.02 WHIP to go with a tidy 2.45 ERA and an 8-5 record with 149 strikouts in 139.2 innings. He loses the award to Yasiel Puig because while Fernandez has played more games, Puig has made a greater and more relevant impact in a bigger market. Also Fernandez’s innings will be capped, he plays for the worst team in the NL, and Puig looks to make more folks into Dodger fans in the postseason.

Shelby Miller, SP, St. Louis Cardinals – Odds 20:1. Of course had the award been handed out in late May this would be the guy. He’s part of a never ended stream of talent in St. Louis, and the big right-hander might be the best player out of this class when all said and done. He’s gone 11-8, with a sparkling 2.97 ERA and 136 K’s in 127 innings of work.

Julio Teheran, SP, Atlanta Braves – Odds 25:1. The second most popular Julio in Atlanta struggled mightily to go deep in games, but he’s evened up the score by tallying ERA’s of 1.95, 2.93, and 3.18 in June, July and August, respectively. Teheran has been under the radar with his (9-6, 3.08 ERA, 127 K’s) because the other rookies have been so dominant.

Honorable Mention: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-3, 2.91 ERA), SS Andrelton Simmons( .240-11-40),