|Rookie of the Year Races Shouldn’t Surprise||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on June 26, 2012
Every summer, a few talented rookies pull away from their first-year counterparts in establishing themselves as viable Rookie of the Year candidates. Others fade since they haven't experienced the fatigue of a 162-game season.
However, this season, assuming they continue their torrid pace, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout should be the runaway winners of their respective league's Rookie of the Year award.
The two have wasted no time in getting their projected careers off to a fast start. Of course, there are still a few months left to this season, but both have shown they can hang with the big boys.
Trout received a cup of coffee late last season and only managed a .220 clip in 40 games. But he was just 19 last year, and he did record 11 extra-base hits -- including five home runs -- in 135 at-bats.
That brief stint was likely exactly what Trout needed, because he's off to a ridiculous start in 2012. He's currently leading the AL in batting with a .338 average, and he's leading the league with 21 stolen bases in 24 attempts, along with having seven home runs and 29 RBIs in 207 at-bats.
With Angels outfielders Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells likely on the way out, Trout can be a fixture in Los Angeles for years to come.
At just 20 years old, he's displayed incredible maturity and poise. He's not just an offensive phenomenon, however, as his defense in center field -- a position once held by perennial Gold-Glover Hunter -- has been superb.
If he keeps up this pace, there's little doubt that Trout takes home the AL Rookie of the Year.
Over in the NL, Harper has become the newest sensation. It was debated fiercely whether or not Harper would start the year in the bigs, but the Nationals decided to hold off to get him some more seasoning.
But Harper has shown from the get-go that he belongs in Washington's order. From his tape-measure home runs to his quirky sayings, Harper is here to stay and will continue his exciting style of baseball.
Through his first 51 games, he hit .280 batting mainly in the No. 2 hole in the Nats lineup. His .361 on-base percentage shows that he is a patient hitter despite his youth of just 19 years. He's also drawn 24 walks.
Over one-third of his hits have gone for extra-bases, including clubbing seven long balls. Since he's in the No. 2 hole, he maybe isn't driving in a ton of runs just yet (20), but that's irrelevant if he's continuously getting on base for his teammates to drive him in.
Harper is the talk of the town for the first-place Nationals, a place where this team hasn't spent much time in their history in Washington. Will Harper be a major factor in the team's first-ever division title since becoming the Nats? We'll find out this fall.
But for now, if Harper and Trout remain on fire, the voting for the Rookies of the Year shouldn't surprise anyone. These two have a chance to become the face of their respective leagues for years to come.