Early look at top Rookie of the Year candidates
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Since we’re almost a fourth of the way through the season, it’s time to start looking at some of the impact rookies in 2012. While some big names like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have gained national attention, there are many lesser-known names putting up solid numbers.
Yu Darvish – Texas Rangers: I’m not a big fan of players coming over from another country, who are older and more experienced, having a shot at winning the Rookie of the Year (ROY) award. But Darvish technically qualifies, and therefore, he is in the discussion.
The 25-year-old Japanese rookie has been impressive in his seven starts this year, posting a 2.84 ERA in 44.1 innings pitched. He’s walked 24 and struck out 51, while posting a 5-1 record for a talented Rangers offense. As with most pitchers from Japan, it’s only a matter of time before hitters figure him out. After a great April, his ERA in May is 4.67 in two starts against the Indians and Angels.
Wei-Yin Chen – Baltimore Orioles: He’s in the same category as Darvish but is actually a year older. A bit under the radar before his outstanding performance against the New York Yankees on May 15, Chen has allowed 12 earned runs in 44 innings for a 2.45 ERA in seven starts. He’s not the strikeout pitcher that Darvish is, recording only 32, but he’s effective in the strike zone, forcing hitters to make poor contact and inducing ground balls and pop outs.
He’s the ace of this staff right now, and as long as the Orioles perform at a top level, Chen will have a chance to be considered a ROY candidate with Darvish. I believe Chen has the tools to sustain longevity in the league and will be a solid two or three starter.
Wade Miley – Arizona Diamondbacks: Miley pitched 40.1 innings in the majors last season and was rather effective, except for two starts. After beginning the 2012 season as a reliever for the Diamondbacks, he has moved into the rotation and has rightly earned a spot. He’s made five starts and completed six innings in all of them but one, when he only managed to work five and two-thirds innings.
His ERA as a starter this year is 2.35 in 30.2 innings pitched. He’s struck out 25 and walked only eight in those starts and is 3-1. He’s only topped 100 pitches once, which was in his latest outing, so it looks as if the Diamondbacks coaching staff is beginning to become a little more comfortable with him as a starter. He has little competition among pitchers in the National League, so if he can keep this up he’ll have a legitimate shot.
Randall Delgado – Atlanta Braves: After a shaky start to the season, the highly touted prospect has settled into a bit of a groove allowing only three earned runs in his last 20.1 innings. His recent success has given him a respectable ERA of 3.79 on the season, and he’s struck out 35 and walked 18.
He definitely has the potential to be the best rookie pitcher in either league and with the way he’s pitching lately it seems he’s finally figured out how to retire big league hitters and stay in games longer.
Drew Smyly – Detroit Tigers: Smyly has been incredible in his seven starts for the Tigers even though his 1-0 record doesn’t reflect his performance correctly. He’s struck out 38 batters in 39 innings, while allowing 32 hits and 10 earned runs. In May (three starts) he’s struck out 16 in 17 innings and only walked three.
In April he posted a 1.23 ERA, and while he hasn’t been as effected since, he’s managed to keep his team in every game, as they’re 4-3 on days he starts. The Tigers offense has been a bit of a disappointment this season, but if they can start giving Smyly some run support and get him some wins, he’ll be right up there with Darvish and others.
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