i70baseball – Looking At The Rookies – AL

Royals fans are no strangers to watching rookies this season.  Many teams are starting to give young players a chance to prove themselves but there are a few players that have been hanging around all season that are starting to turn heads.

As we enter the end of the season and look forward to the playoffs for some teams and towards 2012 for others, it is time that the rookies of this season start getting some recognition and find the spotlight falling on them.

Here are three offensive players and three pitchers in the American League that qualify for the Rookie Of The Year award.  If you are not watching these guys by now, it is time to start.

The offensive rookies in the American League are a bit more clear cut.  The Royals own Eric Hosmer is putting together a solid season with a balanced attack and showing Royals fans that first base is a position they can get behind.  Angels fans would tell you that first base is definitely the position of the future for them as well as Mark Trumbo is killing the ball in Anaheim.  Toronto, on the other hand, has a catcher that is showing the he can handle the bat as well, and J.P. Arencibia is getting noticed quickly.

The Odds On Favorite For Rookie Of The Year
Sorry Royals fans, it is hard to argue with what Mark Trumbo is doing for the Angels.  He leads the American League rookies in Games Played and At Bats but there is a reason for that.  His .261 batting average and .301 on base percentage leave some room for improvement, but his power numbers are nothing to sneeze at.  With 20 doubles, 22 home runs, 63 runs batted in, and a .495 slugging percentage have him well in place to grab the Jackie Robinson Award in the American League this year.

The Runner Up
Royals fans can relax a little bit as Eric Hosmer is not too far behind Trumbo.  Hosmer is posting a .282 batting average while knocking 10 home runs and driving in 47 runs batted in.  Add in 19 doubles and a total of 93 hits and you can bet that the future has arrived in Kansas City and the future looks bright.

He Deserves A Look
Toronto’s young backstop, J.P. Arencibia may not be hitting for a good average, his is only .216, but what he is hitting is going a long way.  He is second to Trumbo for the most home runs by a rookie in the American League with 18 and pairs that with 52 runs batted in.  The drop off from there is tremendous, however, as he only posts 13 doubles and 3 triples, leaving him with a .452 slugging percentage.  His on base percentage plunges below .300 and he is striking out at an alarming rate.  The Blue Jays have a solid power hitter on their hands, they just hope he can learn some patience.

If it seems the offensive rookies are a bit sparse in the American League, the pitching prospects across the league are enough to get any baseball fan excited about the future.  The Royals put their share of pitchers into any conversation with Aaron Crow, Danny Duffy, and Tim Collins.  Jeremy Hellickson and Ivan Nova are both posting double digit wins for the Rays and Yankees, respectively.  Jordan Walden, meanwhile, is closing games at a solid pace for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Up north in Seattle, Michael Pineda is racking up the innings, and strikeouts, at a rapid pace.

The Odds On Favorite For Rookie Of The Year
Speaking of Michael Pineda, he is running away with this category in 2011.  He leads all rookies with 130 innings pitched and 133 strikeouts.  He has only walked 43 batters and given up 12 home runs.  He is posting a 3.53 earned run average and has won 9 games for a team that is struggling to win games as it is.  Pineda is showing some dominance at times and not showing any signs of slowing down, at least until his pitching arm falls off.

The Runner Up
It is Jordan Walden of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that is equally as impressive as Pineda.  Walden has posted 25 saves in 32 chances, posted a 3 wins, 3 losses record.  Over the course of 45 innings pitched, he has struck out 48 hitters and only walked 18.  With only one home run allowed and a 2.80 earned run average, the Angels have a closer they can count on for a long time to come.

He Deserves A Look
Call me old fashioned, but I still like a pitcher that wins games without giving up a ton of runs, even if he is not striking out everyone he faces.  For that reason, take a look at the Rays’ pitcher Jeremy Hellickson who has won 10 games  over 7 losses while posting a 3.15 earned run average.  He is going deep into games with 122.2 innings pitched and has struck out 79 hitters while walking 45.  He will not bring home any hardware, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Around the league there are pitchers and hitters that will look to capitalize on solid rookie seasons and avoid the Sophomore Slump.  While these players are showcasing themselves around the American League, it is important to take a look at one player that is not on this list that will mean something more to our i70baseball fans.  Here is our honorable mention.

Aaron Crow

i70baseball Honorable Mention
The honorable mention here goes to a player that is pitching impressively despite not being in a key role, which will keep him out of discussions based on stats.  Aaron Crow may be the closer of the future in Kansas City after pitching his way to an earned run average below 2.00 and striking out 49 hitters in 51.1 innings pitched.  Crow has allowed five home runs this season.  He has scattered 37 hits over his innings of work and taken the mound 43 times.  Crow will keep fans excited to see the bullpen doors swing open in Kansas City for many future seasons.

As the season comes to an end, keep an eye on these seven players and their impact on their teams and the league when the dust settles.  One of these players will take home a Jackie Robinson Award and etch their name into the history books.  The rest will attempt to build on a solid rookie campaign and make a career out of it.  Time will tell how well these names will become known.

Bill Ivie is the editor at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.