MLB: Ranking the 5 Best Rookies in the AL

Austin FoxCorrespondent IIAugust 8, 2012

MLB: Ranking the 5 Best Rookies in the AL

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    Mike Trout is receiving all the attention in the AL when it comes to Rookie of the Year award talks, and deservedly so. However, there are a number of other good rookies who are having terrific years.

    Some are getting the attention they deserve, while others are completely being ignored by the media.

    It is extremely hard to differentiate between rookie hitters and rookie pitchers, as many analysts think there should be a separate award for the two.

    Here's a look at the top five rookies in the AL, based on the kind of year each is having. Will Mike Trout be rated No. 1, or will there be a surprise candidate in the top spot?

5. Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics

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    Jarrod Parker's ERA of 3.55 isn't necessarily great, but don't let that fool you. He has been getting hit a bit recently, which has caused his ERA to skyrocket.

    About a month ago, on July 5, Parker was 5-3 with a 2.46 ERA. Those numbers were incredible, seeing as how he was only 23 years old and had literally started only one game in the majors before 2012. Again, he has struggled recently, but it's impossible to ignore the start he got off to.

    Perhaps the highlight of his season came on June 4, when he no-hit the Rangers for seven innings before allowing a single in the eighth. For the game, he threw eight shutout innings, allowing one hit and striking out six. Again, he did all this against the Texas Rangers.

    Parker would be higher on this list if he had pitched better over the last month or so. His recent struggles almost had me take him off the list completely, as Scott Diamond was almost slotted here at No. 5.

    Still, Parker deserves more attention than he is receiving, as do Oakland's two other good rookie pitchers, Tom Milone and Ryan Cook.

4. Will Middlebrooks, Boston Red Sox

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    Will Middlebrooks is the reason Kevin Youkilis is no longer playing in Boston. Although I think it was a mistake to get rid of Youkilis, they still had to find a spot in the lineup for Middlebrooks.

    He has been great all year for Boston, hitting for both average and power. He is currently hitting .292, but has been above .300 for a decent part of the year.

    Middlebrooks' 14 home runs is pretty impressive as well, seeing as how he's only played in 72 games.

    If there is something he could improve on at the plate, it's his walk rate. He has an OBP of .322, which isn't terrible, but you'd certainly like it to be a bit higher for somebody hitting in the middle of the order.

    Seeing as how he's only 23 years old, it sure looks as if Middlebrooks will be manning third base in Boston for a long, long time.

3. Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox

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    Why is Jose Quintana being completely ignored by everyone in baseball outside of Chicago? Up until very recently, Quintana had been absolutely dominant, shutting down every opponent, and should have been a legit candidate for the Cy Young award.

    Like Jarrod Parker, he has struggled over the last month or so, causing his numbers to inflate a bit. With that being said, he still has very good numbers: a 4-1 record and a 2.80 ERA.

    He should have many more wins, but has had some unfortunate luck, most notably the gem he pitched in Boston that was ruined in the ninth by a Cody Ross walk-off homer.

    Quintana's high point this season was about a month ago in his final start before the All-Star break. In that start, he faced the Texas Rangers and threw eight innings, giving up one run on only two hits. At the time, that start lowered his ERA to 2.04.

    Again, things haven't been going as well recently, and it now looks like the White Sox are trying to limit his innings a bit. If not for his struggles recently though, he would have been higher on this list.

    Quintana is overshadowed in Chicago by Chris Sale and Jake Peavy. But regardless, he deserves much more attention. Honestly, as an opponent, I would rather face Jake Peavy than go up against Quintana.

2. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics

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    The streak that Yoenis Cespedes has been on lately caused me to put him here in this No. 2 spot. He has been a huge reason the A's have been on fire over the last month or so.

    Oakland sure gave Cespedes a lot of money this offseason to come play in the US, and at first it didn't look like it was that great of a move. The power has been there all season, but his average wasn't very good.

    Now that he is hitting for average, his overall numbers look very solid: .308 average, 14 homers, 54 RBI, 10 steals and a .366 OBP.

    We all know that Oakland's offense needs all the help it can get, and Cespedes has been just what they needed. I think his numbers are even more impressive when considering he has done all this in the spacious Oakland Coliseum.

    The A's have a number of rookies that are key parts to this team's success, but I think Cespedes tops the list. The $36 million deal they gave him sure looks to be paying off.

1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

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    No surprises here. Honestly, it is impossible to even make a case for any other rookie in the top spot. What Mike Trout has done in 2012 is absolutely unbelievable. His offensive numbers are so impressive in so many categories that I don't even know where to begin.

    I'll start with runs scored; Trout leads all of baseball with 87 runs scored, even though he has only played in 88 games!

    This obviously shows that he can get on base, as he has an unbelievably high OBP of .409. That is good for third the AL. Trout not only walks at the plate a lot, but hits for an incredibly high average; he is currently hitting .346, which leads the AL by 20 points. In fact, Trout has led the AL in average for much of the year now.

    Not only does he hit for average, but an incredible amount of power as well. He currently has 20 home runs, despite playing fewer than 90 games. He also has great speed, as he leads the majors in steals with 36, and has only been caught three times. His five triples are pretty impressive as well.

    Trout is also a great defensive center fielder, making circus catches (seemingly) every few days.

    Oh, and he just turned 21 on Tuesday. Trout could win the Rookie of the Year award by the widest margin ever, and it would be much deserved. I haven't been watching baseball as long as most people, but he is, by far, the best rookie I've ever seen.

    He is so good that he has become a legit contender for MVP. Although I still think he trails Miguel Cabrera for the award, I would have no problem calling him second in the race at this point, even ahead of a guy like Josh Hamilton.