Rookie of the Year was first awarded on a national basis in 1947,
when Jackie Robinson was the inaugural winner. It took 40 more years
before the powers that be decided to honor Robinson by having the
award named the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year award. Robinson
and the 1948 winner, Alvin Dark, were selected from all Major League
teams from both leagues; since then it has been broken down into
American League and National League winners.
first thing one must realize about the Rookie of the Year winners is
that some really, really good players have won over the years. Sure,
there are some flameouts such as Joe Charboneau, Bob Hamelin or the
immortal Mark Fidrych. But future Hall of Famers are much more
common than below average future big leaguers. 2012 was definitely a
star studded year, with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper winning their
league’s awards with record setting seasons.
a look at an imaginary game between American League and National
League ROY winners is a pretty quick and instructive way to
illustrate this point.
League (batting order)
Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Billy Williams, Orlando Cepeda, Darryl
Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela, Rick Sutcliffe
League (batting order)
Cal Ripken Jr.
Mike Trout, Carlos Beltran, Luis Aparicio, Nomar Garciaparra, Lou
Whitaker, Evan Longoria
Herb Score, Gregg Olson, Stan Bahnsen
quick look at the rosters above does show one thing in particular.
There have been 19 pitchers whose careers started after 1947 who have
been elected to the Hall of Fame, with numerous others such as Greg
Maddux, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine and Mariano Rivera
poised to potentially join them. But only one, Tom Seaver, was ever
a rookie of the year. The list of position players, on the other
hand, is littered with with Hall of Famers.
most important factor in winning a Rookie of the Year award still
boils down to one simple thing: Playing time. There have been
exceptions, but if a player isn’t going to get at least 450-500
plate appearances, 30 starts or serve as his team’s closer for a
majority of the year, the weight of the numbers is going to go in
favor of the everyday regular.
the most notable exception to the playing time rule was in 1959, when
Willie McCovey won the NL Rookie of the Year despite playing in only
52 games. But they were a spectacular 52 games, as McCovey hit
.354-13-38/1.085 OPS and even managed to garner some MVP votes. Is
it possible that someone such as the Cardinals Oscar Tavares or the
Dodgers Yasiel Puig could do that in 2013? Certainly, but very
than just present the favorites for the award in each league, we’d
thought we’d go down team-by-team to see who all the initial
candidates actually are.
Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks would be full of candidates if
everyone was healthy, except that CF Adam Eaton and SS Didi
Gregorious are both injured, costing them the chance at first glance
to begin the season in the starting lineup. Eaton, in particular,
could post ROY numbers if he got enough playing time in the crowded
Arizona outfield. LHP Tyler Skaggs will likely get a shot to start
at some point but won’t have the opportunity to duplicate fellow
southpaw Wade Miley’s 2012 numbers, the 2012 runner-up to Harper.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran has the prospect pedigree, the
outstanding spring to build on and a place in a championship
contender’s starting rotation. That’s a great recipe for a ROY
Cubs: The only ROY scenario one can imagine with the Cubs is if
32-year old Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa ends up with the closer’s
job and the Cubs win enough games for him to post some saves.
Reds: Since the Reds don’t have a single rookie on their
projected Opening Day roster, it’s hard to project a candidate.
LHP Tony Cingrani may be next in line for a starting spot, should one
open. Then there is the possibility that the Reds centerfield
defense is so mediocre that speedster CF Billy Hamilton is called up
at some point.
Rockies: Not much going on here after Chris Nelson won the third
base job over Nolan Arenado.
Angeles Dodgers: While 2012 Cuban signee Yasiel Puig has been
the sensation of spring training, the reality is that, a). he has 82
professional at-bats, and, b). the Dodgers starting outfield of Matt
Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Either is being paid as much or more as
some entire team’s rosters in 2013 and beyond. Korean LHP Hyun-Jin
Ryu is a much better bet to contend for ROY honors if he makes a
quick adjustment to Major League hitters.
Marlins: The Marlins will start two rookies from the beginning
of the season, neither of them named Christian Yelich, who hasn’t
played above Hi-A ball yet. SS Adeiney Hechevaria won’t likely hit
enough to garner many votes, even if he plays every day, but C Rob
Brantly could do so if last season’s September performance is an
Brewers: RHP Willie Peralta will be in the starting rotation for
a team that should score plenty of runs once they get completely
healthy. He’s also old enough that the Brewers won’t be putting
much of a hold on the number of pitches/innings he throws, a relevant
concern in this day and age.
York Mets: RHP Matt Harvey exceeded his innings limit by nine
innings to qualify in 2013 and RHP Zach Wheeler and C Travis D’Arnaud
are both wisely being started in AAA. The Mets last ROY was Dwight
Gooden in 1984 and it looks like that streak should continue.
Phillies: No candidates, appropriate but worrisome for one of
baseball’s oldest teams.
Pirates: Wait until 2014 when Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon
are more likely to make their debuts, if Cole doesn’t burn through
his rookie status later this year. Don’t sleep on Kyle McPherson,
though, if he finds his way into the starting rotation early enough,
as he has a better track record and stuff than many realize.
Louis Cardinals: OF Oscar Tavares would be the odds on ROY
favorite if he had a starting spot, but the Cardinals outfield is
full at the moment, with the reality that one hamstring twinge from
36-year old RF Carlos Beltran could put Tavares in the big leagues.
Better bets would be hard throwing RHPs Shelby Miller and Trevor
Rosenthal, especially if Miller wins the fifth starter’s job.
Diego Padres: 2B Jedd Gyorko looks like a classic ROY candidate
as an established hitter with a starting job from opening day, albeit
at a position that he isn’t especially experienced at yet
defensively. With the fences moved in at Petco Park, a .280-15-80
season will get Gyorko plenty of votes.
Francisco Giants: No reason to disrespect the two-time World
Champions, but the farm system is a bit dry in upper level prospects
Nationals: As long as 3B Jordan Zimmerman remains healthy and 3B
Anthony Rendon stays in the minor leagues, the Nationals are going to
make a run at the NL East title without much rookie assistance.
Orioles: Top RHP prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman would
be on any ROY candidate list if they were in the Major Leagues.
However, they aren’t.
Red Sox: OF Jackie Bradley is a very intriguing prospect with a
bright future, as is RHP Allen Webster. Whether the Red Sox will
open Bradley in the big leagues is a matter of daily speculation.
White Sox: The White Sox have a history of moving players
quickly up the ladder, but it is very difficult to envision a
scenario where one of their players will get ROY votes this year.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer would seem to have been the obvious
candidate for the pitching strapped Indians but getting beaten out by
Scott Kazmir is not a big resume builder. Still, expect him in the
starting rotation at some point in the year.
Tigers: Three closers have won ROY titles in the last four
years: Craig Kimbrell, Neftali Perez and Andrew Bailey. You can
debate the relative value of saves all you want, but the writers who
vote for the award value them. If RHP Bruce Rondon harnesses his
overpowering fastball and wins the job outright, he could wrack up
35-40 saves, which is often a winning ticket.
Astros: You’d think the Astros would be ripe grounds for a ROY
candidate, but that will have to wait until next year. There’s no
need to rush players like OF George Springer or 1B Jonathan Singleton
now, even if Singleton hadn’t been suspended for the first 50 games
of the season.
City Royals: The off-season trade of OF Wil Myers shot any
chance a Royal had of winning the AL ROY. The team’s master plan
probably had 2010 first round pick 2B Christian Colon playing second
base as a rookie in 2013 instead of a platoon of Chris Getz and
Miguel Tejada, but that hasn’t worked out.
Angeles Angels Angels: No obvious or even imaginable candidates
at this point.
Twins: CF Aaron Hicks will be a strong candidate if given the
job straight out of AA, as still seems likely. RHP Kyle Gibson
should get a place in the starting rotation early in the season and
is positioned to perform immediately.
York Yankees: Unless the Yankees decide to play OF Melky Mesa
instead of the newly acquired Vernon Wells, there won’t be too many
rookie at-bats or innings for either New York team this year.
Athletics: You can debate whether veteran Japanese players
should be eligible for the award, but 30-year old SS Hiroyuki
Najajima should get plenty of at-bats and has shown enough offensive
ability in his JPL career to be a legitimate candidate. RHP Dan
Straily will also be in the starting rotation.
Mariners: The Mariners “Big Three” prospect set of C Mike
Zunino, LHP Danny Hultzen and RHP Taijuan Walker are all likely a
year away from meaningful big league time, unless Hultzen can regain
the command that eluded him after his promotion to AAA in 2012. Hard
throwing reliever RHP Carter Capps and spring training standout RHP
Brandon Mauer are the most likely among the Mariners rookies to
contribute in 2013.
Bay Rays: OF Wil Myers and RHP Chris Archer would be integral
parts of most Major League teams to open the season, but the Rays
aren’t a normal Major League team, so both will start the year in
AAA. Myers should still be considered a strong ROY candidate,
though, as the Rays offense may not be able to wait too long for his
Rangers: Surprisingly for a team with title aspirations, the
Rangers have a couple of serious ROY candidates. Even more
surprising is their names are not SS Jurickson Profar and 3B Mike
Olt, who will start the year in AAA with no obvious path to the big
leagues with 3B Adrian Beltre and SS Elvin Andrus entrenched at their
positions. Rather, CF Leonys Martin and surprise No. 5 starter RHP
Nick Tepesch will be the Rangers primary rookies to start the season.
Blue Jays: The Blue Jays are in the same boat as the Angels, in
that there is no obvious rookie that will even get at-bats or innings
at this point.
League Pre-Season ROY Favorites
League Pre-Season ROY Favorites
Thanks to Jason Martinez at mlbdepthcharts.com for how much easier his outstanding website makes writing this type of article.