If I Had a Vote (Part One)
The Baseball Writers Association of America announces its annual awards winners this week, starting the the Rookie of the Year awards. If I was a card carrying member of the BBWAA, this would be my ballot.
AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout (Angels)
This is the easiest call to make. The 21-year old Trout had one of the greatest offensive season in the history of the game, easily overshadowing the other finalists - Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish. The only question is whether or not Trout also wins the AL MVP award.
NL Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper (Nationals)
This is a close race. Neither Frazier nor Miley were touted very much coming into this season. Frazier only came up to the Reds from AAA (where he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire with a pedestrian .231/.268/.359 slash line with one home run and eleven strikeouts in 10 games with Louisville) after an injury to Scott Rolen. Miley was the 13th ranked prospect according to MinorLeagueBall.com in the Diamondbacks system. Other pitchers (Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Archie Bradley and Patrick Corbin, to name a few) were the top jewels. Though his role increased after injuries to Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy, Miley was holding down the fifth spot in the rotation out of Spring Training. To their credit, both Frazier and Miley capitalized on their opportunities. But when you come in to the league as hyped as Harper was, with the expectations that were piled upon him, and then you live up to that hype and those expectations, that becomes the difference maker.
Mike Trout, by Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Bryce Harper, by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
No Pressure, Kid
Earlier today the Washington Nationals called up their 19-year old phenom Bryce Harper after placing third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day Disabled List. This evening, after dropping their fifth game in a row, the Los Angeles Angels called up outfielder Mike Trout, who was ranked as the third top prospect in the minors entering this season by MLB.com, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.
Harper and Trout are coming up into completely different situations though. Harper’s Nationals lead the NL East and are tied with the Dodgers for the best record in the National League. The Angels on the other hand sit at the bottom of the AL West with a record of 6-14, already nine games behind the division leading Texas Rangers. The Angels, who also released former All-Star Bobby Abreu to make room for Trout, need Trout to help jump start an anemic offense that is ranked next-to-last in the American League in runs, slugging percentage, OPS and RBI, and last in home runs.
Trout is thought to have the makeup to handle the expectations, and he has 40 games in the majors already under his belt. He was also off to a hot start in 20 games at AAA Salt Lake (.403/.467./623). The Angels are dropping a lot of pressure on a 20-year old kid though.
Funny. Not Funny.
Rookie phenom had his real cell phone number posted on the scoreboard during a recent Angels exhibition game. Rookies always endure friendly hazing from teammates during spring training (wearing Hello Kitty backpacks, carrying the veteran’s gear, getting stuck with a dinner tab, etc.). It’s actually a sign that the kid has arrived in the Show. Funny.
Meanwhile, CJ Wilson tweeted the real phone number of former teammate Mike Napoli to his more than 116,000 followers, apparently in retaliation for Napoli’s comment that he was looking forward to hitting home runs off Wilson after he learned that Wilson had signed with the Angels, which is incidentally Napoli’s former team. Not funny.
Wilson deleted the tweet and offered a half-hearted explanation, but it still doesn’t sit well with Napoli, who said to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram,
I don’t even know why he did it. You don’t do that. I am not taking it as a prank. You know, I haven’t even talked to him since the end of last season. We don’t have that type of relationship.
And then added,
I don’t even remember saying I want to take him deep. But as every power hitter, you’re always trying to take pitchers deep. So I’ll say it now, I’m going to try and take him deep.
The Angels and Rangers renew acquaintances May 11 in Arlington.