AL Rookie of the Year: Updated Rankings for Yu Darvish and Top 5 Contenders
Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish finally suffered a loss in his last start, as the Cleveland Indians knocked him around for six hits and three earned runs over six innings.
Now that we know Darvish is human, he's clearly out of the running for the American League Rookie of the Year award, right?
Darvish is still very much in the AL ROY race. In fact, when I drew up my first set of ROY rankings last week, Darvish was leading the chase.
A week has passed since those first rankings. Let's take a look at how the AL Rookie of the Year race has changed.
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Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox
He's only played in five games, but Will Middlebrooks (pictured) already has the highest WAR of any AL rookie hitter with at least 20 plate appearances, according to FanGraphs. That's impressive.
Brandon Snyder, 1B, Texas Rangers
It's hard to stand out in Texas' offense, but Brandon Snyder has managed to do it anyway in a very small sample size. He had six RBI on Monday in Baltimore.
Ryan Cook, RP, Oakland Athletics
He's tied for second in the AL with eight holds. Great stuff if you like holds (I do).
Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Baltimore Orioles
He's 2-0 with an ERA under 3.00 in five starts.
5. Yoenis Cespedes, CF, Oakland Athletics
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Last Week: No. 3
Two weeks ago, Yoenis Cespedes had a better claim to the AL Rookie of the Year than any other player in the American League.
At the end of the day on April 25, Cespedes was hitting .269 with five home runs and 18 RBI. He hasn't homered since, and his average is down to .245 on the season.
A wounded hand hasn't done Cespedes any favors. The good news is that he's merely day-to-day with a strained muscle, according to Jane Lee of MLB.com, but he's probably going to have to miss another game or two.
Cespedes is still a very strong Rookie of the Year candidate, but his stock is trending in the wrong direction. His WAR was at 0.5 last week, and it's down to 0.1 this week, according to FanGraphs.
4. Jesus Montero, C/DH, Seattle Mariners
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Last Week: No. 4
Jesus Montero was hitting just below .300 when we checked in with him last week. A mini-slump has since dropped his batting average down to .275 heading into Wednesday night's game against the Detroit Tigers.
It hasn't all been bad for Montero, though. Most notably, he came up with a clutch game-tying double against the Tigers on Monday night that was very nearly a walk-off home run.
Montero is living up to the hype about him being a great natural hitter. The only complaint you can make about him is that he isn't the most patient hitter under the sun. He's hitting .275, but he's only walked three times all season.
You therefore wonder why anybody bothers to throw Montero a strike. Pitchers may figure that out as the season moves along, if they haven't already.
Montero's stock is right about where it was last week. He hasn't strengthened his Rookie of the Year candidacy, but he hasn't hurt it either. He'll stay put at No. 4 until further notice.
3. Addison Reed, RP, Chicago White Sox
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Last Week: No. 5
Addison Reed's Rookie of the Year stock is on the way up.
Reed still hasn't allowed an earned run all season, and he's given up just five hits and walked three in 10 innings pitched. He's struck out 14, good for a K/9 of 12.60.
Better yet, Reed has picked up a pair of saves since we last checked in with him a week ago. White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper hinted to ESPN's Jim Bowden that Reed may be used as a closer more frequently.
Reed fits the profile of a closer. He's got a nasty fastball and nasty slider, and AL hitters haven't quite figured out how to handle him yet.
We've seen closers win Rookie of the Year awards each of the last three seasons. Reed may make it four in a row.
2. Drew Smyly, SP, Detroit Tigers
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Last Week: No. 2
Drew Smyly will be making his sixth start on Wednesday night against Jesus Montero and the Seattle Mariners. If it ends up being anything like his first five starts, Smyly's ROY stock should stay very strong.
Smyly still hasn't had a bad start. He gave up one earned run or fewer in each of his first four starts, and he allowed just two earned runs over six innings against the Chicago White Sox in his last start. He's struck out seven batters in each of his last three starts.
The one complaint to be made about Smyly is that he hasn't lasted any longer than six innings yet. Jim Leyland isn't going to let him go over 100 pitches, so Smyly will have to start being more economical if he wants to work deeper into games and take some pressure off of Detroit's bullpen.
Still, Smyly has been a lot better than a lot of people expected. Among AL rookie starters, he's second with a 0.7 WAR, according to FanGraphs.
The only guy ahead of him is the next guy on this list.
1. Yu Darvish, SP, Texas Rangers
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Last Week: No. 1
Yu Darvish was a legit Cy Young contender when we last checked in with him, so it stood to reason that he would be the top Rookie of the Year contender.
Darvish still is a legit Cy Young contender, and he still is the leading ROY contender in the American League. His shaky start against the Cleveland Indians changes nothing.
This is mainly because that start wasn't all that shaky. Technically, it was a quality start, and Darvish set a new career-high with 11 strikeouts. He has a loss on his record now, but his 2.54 ERA and 10.15 K/9 look pretty good.
Darvish has a WAR of 1.0, according to FanGraphs. That's tops among all AL rookies.
If he keeps it up, nothing will keep him from winning the American League Rookie of the Year.
Nothing except picky sportswriters, that is.
If you follow me on Twitter, I can give you my Rookie of the Year contenders for the Southern California Bowling League.