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Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson was the favorite for A.L. Rookie of the Year honors before the season began, and while he hasn't gone all Nolan Ryan on the rest of the American League, he has been very good.
His 3.01 ERA is tops among qualified rookie pitchers, and ranks 18th overall in all of baseball. He's thrown 149 innings, which is a few ahead of the next closest rookie, and has 11 victories, a number that is good for 17th in the American League and one behind James Shields for the team lead.
Hellickson has tossed 15 quality starts and posted a 2-to-1 K:BB ratio. The seasoned 24-year-old was at his best during the month of May, in which he posted a 4-1 record and a 1.36 ERA. He allowed just five earned runs in five starts and threw his first career complete-game shutout.
More so than any other rookie starter, Hellickson has been eerily consistent. He's surrendered more than three runs in just three starts this year and has posted seven starts in which he's allowed one or fewer earned runs.
Hellickson's top opponent for top rookie honors, at least on the mound, has been Seattle's Michael Pineda, who exploded onto the scene in April, winning four of his first five starts. Pineda has kept up his fantastic strikeout pace and has 148 going into the final month of the season. That number paces the rookie class and is good enough to rank him inside the top 15 in the A.L.
His ERA of 3.73 ranks second among qualified rookies and is also second among Mariners starters who are haven't been traded. Along with King Felix, Pineda has given the M's a sturdy one-two punch that is likely to become a one-two-three when the duo is joined by 2011 draftee Danny Hultzen late next year.
Pineda has actually posted more quality stars than Hellickson, but has proven to be more inconsistent. He's give up five or more earned runs five times, a feat the Rays pitcher has only succumbed to once.
Unfortunately, fans have been deprived of seeing the two rookie hurlers face off against each other, despite the fact that Pineda has made two of his past four starts against Tampa.
It's always harder to get notice as a reliever, but voters over the years have been kinder on closers in the ROY voting. If Mark Trumbo, Hellickson and Pineda weren't head-and-shoulders above everyone else, Trumbo's teammate Jordan Walden might have had a shot.
He has 26 saves, tied for sixth in the A.L, 54 strikeouts in less than 50 innings and a 2.72 ERA. Walden can light up a radar gun like nobody else and has been a major reason that L.A. has been better than anyone expected
The final member of the runner-up trio is New York's Ivan Nova. Yes, he has an unfair advantage because he plays behind one of baseball's most potent offenses, but he's more than held his own as a 24-year-old pitching in the Big Apple.
Nova paces all rookies with 13 victories, a number than places him in a tie for fourth place overall in the A.L. The rest of his numbers aren't as strong, including a 74-to-43 K:BB ratio and an ERA approaching 4.00, but considering he's put up such strong numbers in New York and has picked up a solid amount of victories, he just sneaks into the runner-up stratosphere.