With the opening night of the 2012 Major League Baseball season less than 24 hours away—I refuse to count the Japan series—it’s time that I go on the record with my prediction for the American League Rookie of the Year. While some of my predictions are rooted in statistics, others are admittedly based upon my own gut feeling.
Although I ultimately selected one player who I believe will take home the honor when the season is all said and done, I thought I’d offer a slew of other rookie predictions by offering the award to both a pitching and position prospect—as it should be.
American League Rookie of the Year (Position)
1) Jesus Montero, C/DH, Mariners: Bats .275 with 20-plus home runs and 70-to-80 RBI while not looking terrible behind the plate; named to AL All-Star team
2) Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics: Plays a quality center field while hitting .250-20-75 and striking out over 20 percent of the time.
3) Mike Trout, OF, Angels: Gets called up earlier than anticipated after an Angels outfielder suffers unexpected injury; hits .260 with 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
4) Travis d’Arnaud, C, Blue Jays: Called up halfway through season and sees time at both catcher and DH; hits 10 home runs while driving in 40-to-50 runs.
5) Anthony Gose, OF, Blue Jays: Promoted to the Show in early August despite struggling to hit for a respectable average at Triple-A; steals 20 bases while excelling at all three outfield positions.
American League Rookie of the Year (Pitcher)
1) Matt Moore, LHP, Rays: Has a spectacular rookie season in which he posts a sub-3.5 ERA, logs over 170 innings and records over 200 strikeouts; makes AL All-Star team; Top 10 finish in Cy Young voting
2) Yu Darvish, RHP, Rangers: Struggles with command out of the gate, but has a strong second half of the season; 12-plus wins, two shutouts, 150-to-175 strikeouts.
3) Addison Reed, RHP, White Sox: Takes over closer duties after All-Star break; 15-to-18 saves, 10-plus K/9, sub-3.00 xFIP.
4) Jarrod Parker, RHP, Athletics: Refines command after starting season in minors and is called up by mid-May; wins 10 games while throwing over 100 innings
5) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Yankees: Makes seven-to-nine starts after midseason call-up; wins multiple games to help the Yankees maintain positioning atop the American League East.
American League Rookie of the Year (Final Vote)
1) Matt Moore
2) Jesus Montero
3) Yoenis Cespedes
4) Mike Trout
5) Yu Darvish