Jobu shares his thoughts on the top youngster in the National League.
Before we get started, I will not be writing a post about the AL Rookie of the Year race. To do so would be a waste of time, because there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind about who will be taking home that particular award. Considering there’s a legitimate argument for the Angels’ Mike Trout to take home the AL MVP (aka the big boy award), there shouldn’t be any reason to think he’s not running away with the ROY hands down. Apologies to guys like Jarrod Parker, Yoenis Céspedes and Yu Darvish, there’s no discussion there. So who is going to win the NL ROY?
Bryce Harper – OF, Washington Nationals
This guy is on everyone’s board for sure. He might have been the Mike Trout of the National League if the Nationals waited another year to call him up. They didn’t though, so the 19-year old did a whole lot of learning at the major league level this season. The thing we already knew about Bryce Harper was the hype machine that has followed him around since he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16 year old. When the Nats took him with the first pick in the 2010 draft, America had a new teen sensation to salivate over.
While Harper certainly didn’t put up numbers quite like Trout did in 2012, he still more than held his own. In 138 games, the kid hit .270/.340/.477, scoring 97 runs with 26 doubles, 9 triples, 22 home runs and 59 RBI. He also added 18 stolen bases, which made him a true double threat with both power and speed. He also helped the Nats to a first place finish, really turning it on down the stretch, hitting .330 with 7 home runs in September and October, when things matter most.
Wade Miley – SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
It wasn’t a very good year for the Arizona Diamondbacks. They won 81 games and finished third in the NL West. One of the bright spots for them was rookie left-hander Wade Miley. The 25 year old joined the D-Backs’ rotation early on in the season and made 29 starts (32 overall appearances), winning 16 of them and putting up a 3.33 ERA. Miley is a complete control pitcher, and he showed it in 2012, walking just 37 men in his 194.2 innings and striking out 144. That’s a 3.89 K/BB ratio for those of you keeping score at home.
While the NL West isn’t the most impressive division in the world, good pitching is good pitching. When you iron out the numbers, Miley had a great season and definitely deserves Rookie of the Year Consideration.
Wilin Rosario – C, Colorado Rockies
Coming into this season, I had barely heard of Wilin Rosario. By the end of the year, he was helping me win my fantasy baseball championship (Dude Booth rocked it in 2012). What got my attention was that the kid knocked 28 home runs, but he had some other solid numbers as well. He used a solid last month to raise his slash lines to .270/.312/.530, and he also drove in 71 runs.
His power and production numbers become even more impressive when you realize that he only played 117 games and only had 396 official at bats. This was a terrible year for the Rockies, so they really needed something to cheer for. Rosario gave them that, and some hope for the future. His defense behind the plate needs some work (13 E, 21 PB), but he’s just 23. There’s time to improve.
Norichika Aoki – OF, Milwaukee Brewers
The last entry is a bit of a controversial one. I tend not to believe that japanese or even some veteran Cuban imports should be allowed to be on this list. For example, when Ichiro won the Rookie of the Year in 2001, he clearly wasn’t a typical rookie. He was a superstar and one of the best hitters in the world (he also took home the MVP that year). Should guys who are veterans of one league be allowed full rookie consideration in the majors? Probably not, but the rule allows it, so I will too.
Anywho, onto the man causing all this controversy. Thirty year old Norichika Aoki was signed by the Brewers this off-season to basically be their fourth outfielder. Aoki took advantage of some injuries and forced his way into the lineup with his excellent play. He ended up playing 151 games and putting up some very solid stats for Milwaukee.
He hit .288/.355/.433, with 81 R, 37 doubles, 4 triples, 10 home runs and 50 RBI. He also stole 30 bases and, while he didn’t walk too much (43), he only struck out 55 times. He was able to consistently put the bat on the ball, which helped him achieve a very solid debut season in the MLB. Considering the lack of hype, and the ridiculously cheap contract he signed (2 years, $2.5MM with a team option for a third year at $1.5 MM), the Brewers might have a complete steal on their hands with Nori.
Let me first say that if Lance Lynn of the Cardinals had been eligible for this award (he didn’t meet the innings requirement in 2011, but he did surpass the time served limit), we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Lynn would be taking it home hands down. Too bad for Lance, but good for everyone on my list. I’m pretty torn about this. Harper showed the most potential and the best combination of power and speed, Rosario showed all the power in the world, Aoki was probably the most consistent and dependable, and Miley pitched wonderfully for the D-Backs.
In the end, I’m going with Aoki. As I said, he was the most consistent of everyone here while playing in the most games. Miley might sneak it out in the voting because he’s a lefty pitcher, but Aoki is the guy in my book.
Featured image courtesy of: 20th Century FOX
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