Due to a combination of scouting, player development, PEDs largely out of the game and young, cost-controlled players representing a more efficient route to winning than their tenured, highly paid counterparts, youth continues to take over the sport.
Last week, we profiled the six leading candidates, along with some dark-horse candidates, who will emerge as the season progresses for the respective Rookie of the Year awards. Little has changed in seven calender days, so here are a few more stock-watch candidates to add to the list.
Spoiler: All stocks are up within this under-the-radar group.
If one or more of these candidates stays on the radar all summer long, don't be surprised, folks.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: 13 GS, 85.1 IP, 75 K, 25 BB, 2.85 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 1.6 WAR
Watching Ryu dominate National League hitters has been one of the few bright spots of the the Dodgers' season, but unlike his rookie pitching counterpart, Shelby Miller, the Los Angeles lefty doesn't blow top-notch offerings by most batters.
Instead, the 26-year-old Korean product fools hitters with a five-pitch arsenal. It's unpredictability that has sustained Ryu's early season success as he's started to see the same lineups on a regular basis.
The five Ryu offerings—four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and changeup—all have the ability to get hitters out, in any count.
What he lacks in raw ability is counteracted by the ability to throw so many pitches for strikes at any point in the count.
Anthony Rendon, 2B, Washington Nationals: .308/.390/.404, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R, 121 OPS+
The counting stats may not overwhelm, but expect Rendon to continue to add to his numbers now that he's back in the big leagues playing full-time and thriving under the specter of playing a new position.
Due to injuries to Ryan Zimmerman and ineffectiveness at second base, Washington has asked Rendon, who barely has any experience on the professional level as a second baseman, to man the position for the foreseeable future.
Since being recalled from the minors last week, the sixth pick of the 2011 draft hasn't disappointed, hitting a robust .370 and adding some length to the bottom of the Washington lineup.
His long-term position may still be third base, but if he's going to hit this well and make game-changing plays in the field, Davey Johnson will pencil his name into the lineup every day for the Nationals.
Preston Claiborne, RHP, New York Yankees: 16 G, 21 IP, 17 K, 1 BB, 0.86 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 96.2 LOB%
It's hard to imagine a young, talented Yankee star sliding under the radar, but that's exactly the path that Preston Claiborne, a low-round draft pick, has taken from his path to the majors to his dominance out of the bullpen this season.
While hardly pitching in true high-leverage situations, Claiborne's start is still remarkable.
The 17-1 K-BB ratio has opened eyes within the Yankees organization, and the idea of Claiborne surpassing some more heralded members of the bullpen—think Joba Chamberlain—this summer isn't out of the question.
While the FIP and strikeout rate suggest regression to the mean is coming, the ability to strand runners at over a 96 percent clip is outstanding.
Yan Gomes, C/1B, Cleveland Indians: .271/.287/.542, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 26 R, 128 OPS+
Heading into the 2013 season, the list of names of vital offensive players to the success or failure of the Cleveland Indians would have read something like this:
1. Carlos Santana
2. Nick Swisher
3. Michael Bourn
4. Jason Kipnis
5. Mark Reynolds
6 Michael Brantley
43. Yan Gomes
Despite relatively little expected performance or importance, Yan Gomes has provided big hits and power for manager Terry Francona.
While he's nearly allergic to working a walk, his power and versatility make him an important piece to the Indians' offensive puzzle moving forward this summer.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!