MLB Predictions 2012: 5 Reasons Matt Moore Will Win AL Rookie of the Year
The American League Rookie of the Year conversation will start on Tuesday, April 10 at Comerica Park when Matt Moore faces off against an improved Detroit Tigers lineup.
Moore was known as a stud throughout the Rays organization, bursting onto the scene in mid-September 2011 and earning both regular and postseason victories.
He's been picked by many to win the ROY award, and the Rays are counting on Moore to bolster a staff that already includes All-Stars David Price and James Shields.
Let the race begin!
Here are five reasons Matt Moore will win the AL Rookie of the Year award.
Minor League Career
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Matt Moore's minor league career is enough to make him a favorite to take home the AL Rookie of the Year award. His minor league career shows a 28-21 record to go along with a 2.64 ERA, an impressive 12.7 K/9 and a 1.10 WHIP.
Moore's most impressive season was his last—in 2011—when he went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA, a 12.2 K/9 and a 0.94 WHIP in 155.0 innings pitched.
Playing for the Durham Bulls at the highest minor league level in Triple-A, Moore sported a 4-0 record with a 1.37 ERA, 13.5 K/9 and a 0.96 WHIP.
Of course, this season, he'll be facing major league hitters, but don't forget, he's already shown that he can get them out too.
September 22 and 30
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Moore made it to the big leagues in 2011 and did not disappoint for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Pitching in the Bronx on September 22 against the New York Yankees, Moore went five scoreless innings, surrendering just four hits and one walk while fanning 11 Yanks to earn his first big league victory.
Then, on September 30—in a road playoff game against the high-powered Texas Rangers—Moore was brilliant again, tossing seven shutout innings, surrendering just two hits and striking out six Rangers to win his first career postseason game.
Those victories were an impressive jump start for Moore, as the Yankees and Rangers ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the American League, respectively, in terms of runs scored.
The Rays Have Offense
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The Tampa Bay Rays' offense ranked No. 15 in the MLB in runs scored in 2011 and should see that number go up this season.
I ranked the Rays' lineup No. 9 in my preseason rankings of all 30 lineups for a few reasons.
Up-and-comer Desmond Jennings in the leadoff spot will be a lightning rod for the Rays' offense this season—he possesses great speed and collected 64 hits in 63 games in 2011—and Carlos Pena is back in Tampa.
Evan Longoria loved hitting in front of Pena in 2009, when they combined for 72 dingers and 213 RBI.
Ben Zobrist drove in 91 RBI in 2011, and Matt Joyce provided the Rays with 19 homers and 75 RBI last season.
If Pena can find that Tampa swing from a few years ago, the Rays will be dangerous in 2012.
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Along with Moore, Jesus Montero, Yu Darvish, Mike Trout, Yoenis Cespedes and a handful of other names have been mentioned to be in the race for the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year award.
Jesus Montero—now a member of the Seattle Mariners—will be playing in his first complete season in 2012 and is essentially thought of as "the guy" in the Mariners' lineup. That's a lot of pressure for a guy who had just 61 career MLB at-bats entering this season.
After dominating for five seasons in Japan, Yu Darvish has been exported to the US to help the Texas Rangers bring home a World Series title. He boasts an impressive resume—a 76-28 career record, 1.72 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 9.5 K/9—but how that will translate into success against MLB hitters has yet to be seen. He could very well turn out to be the next Kei Igawa.
As far as Mike Trout is concerned, he won't start the season in the majors, and Yoenis Cespedes plays in a hitter's nightmare of a ballpark, which is why I think Moore has the edge in the ROY in 2012.
Great Mentors and Support
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Matt Moore will benefit from having a player's manager in Joe Madden and All-Star pitching teammates in David Price and James Shields.
Madden has groomed young pitchers into studs, turning the then-24-year-old Price into an All-Star in just his second complete season. Madden stuck with Shields through a few decent seasons to see him make his first All-Star appearance in 2011, when he posted a 16-12 record with a 2.82 ERA.
Moore will benefit from practicing and interacting with Price and Shields on a daily basis and will be looking to soak up as much information as humanly possible.
About Moore, Shields says, "He's well beyond his years. He knows how to pitch. Anybody can chuck the ball up there. He knows how to work the count, get ahead of hitters.''
Keep your eye on Matt Moore this season—you won't be disappointed.