Before the season started, most analysts were calling for David Price, Elvis Andrus, Matt Wieters, or Travis Snider to win the AL Rookie of the Year award.
Orioles' outfielder Nolan Reimold would probably be only the third Oriole considered, after super-prospect Wieters and Japanese import Koji Uehara. But after being called up to the majors on May 14, Reimold has quickly shown he is very capable of placing himself in the discussion.
Despite a 1-for-9 start of his career at the plate, Reimold has hit .278 with four RBI and two home runs, including a massive 400-foot bomb off of Mariano Rivera, in his first nine games. His 0-for-4 night at Washington on Saturday was only the second time in his short career he hasn't recorded a hit (though he reached base on an error). He's also proved his defensive doubters wrong, with 59 innings of very solid play in left field.
Oh, by the way, he's the only player to ever hit his first career MLB homer off of Rivera.
The 25 year-old has proved very worthy of his promotion to a crowded left-field in Camden Yards. Despite his .394 average at Triple-A Norfolk, Reimold had to wait until injuries to Adam Jones and Luke Scott for him to get his chance to play in the big leagues. But he's played well enough to continue to earn time, even after Jones has returned.
Perhaps more importantly, he's the starting left-fielder for the Orioles in their current series with the Washington Nationals. This is especially important due to the lack of designated hitters in the National League ballpark, giving one less spot for the combination of Reimold, Felix Pie, and Lou Montanez to compete for.
It seems likely that Reimold will continue to have significant playing time even after Luke Scott returns from injury.
It's too early to crown the AL Rookie of the Year, and Reimold has an even smaller sample size. It would be an understatement to say a lot can change between now and the end of the season.
But if Reimold continues to produce at this level, he'll be on the short list of players in contention for the honor at the end of the season.
BREAKING DOWN THE AL ROTY RACE
Elvis Andrus, SS (Tex): .292 BA, 9 RBI, 3 HR, 6 SB
Andrus has seen more playing time than any other rookie in the American League, and it's helped him. He's having a very solid season offensively, hasn't been caught stealing yet, and has excellent defensive abilities (though he does have seven errors). There's little doubt that, if the award was given today, he'd win it.
Ricky Romero, SP (Tor): 2-0, 1.71 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
Romero was electric through his first three starts of the season, and was looking not only like a ROTY candidate, but a Cy Young candidate. Then he sneezed. On April 20 he was placed on the disabled list, after he sneezed so hard that he strained his right oblique muscle. He was recalled on May 23 as Toronto sent down three other promising rookies to Triple-A. If Romero can pick up where he left off, he could easily claim ROTY honors.
Trevor Cahill, SP (Oak): 2-4, 4.62 ERA
Cahill has a bit of an up and down season, but when he's on, he's really on. In seven of his nine starts, he's allowed two earned runs or less. The problem is during the other two starts, he's given up seven earned in each (both in fewer than three innings of work). If Cahill can limit his bad outings, he will have a solid shot at post-season accolades.
Koji Uehara, SP (Bal): 2-3, 4.09 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Uehara has a very solid, but somewhat unspectacular, season. Outside of his April 13 start against the Rangers, Uehara has given up no more than four earned runs in any start. Aside of leaving Saturday's game after the third inning due to a sore hamstring, he's pitched at least five innings every time he's started.
He has displayed excellent control (35:9 K-BB ratio), but hasn't been dominant. The 34 year-old Japanese pitcher's chances hinge upon the seriousness of his injury, but he might not have enough highlight reel material to earn the honors even if it is minor.
Andrew Bailey, RP (Oak): 3-0, 2.03 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 1 Sv
Bailey has been the most dominant of the rookie relievers this season. He's held opposing batters to a mere .133 BA and had registered 10.4 K/9 in 26.2 innings this season. It seems increasingly likely that the A's will place increased responsibility upon Bailey as the season progresses. The closers mantle or a move to the rotation both seem potential outcomes, and either will give Bailey a biggest opportunity to win ROTY.
David Price, SP (TB): 1-4, 3.93 ERA (AAA)
Price was upset to start the season in Triple-A Durham, and has admitted that he wasn't mentally prepared at the beginning of the season because of it. After a rough start to the season, Price has turned it around. Reports indicate that Price will start in place of injured Scott Kazmir on Monday.
Matt Wieters, C (Bal): .288 BA, 24 RBI, 5 HR (AAA)
Wieters has cooled off since his scorching-hot spring training for the Orioles, but he's still being productive both offensively and defensively for Triple-A Norfolk. He's expected to be called up to Camden sometimes in the next two weeks to start his MLB career.