Your 2012 AL ROY Candidates

It hasn’t been particularly difficult for me to think forward to the 2012 season. The Twins season has been an unmitigated disaster basically from the get-go, and that has largely fueled my desire to look forward on both the large and small scales.

So, with the season winding down, what better time to consider some Rookie of the Year candidates for next season? Today’s entry will only consider candidates on the junior circuit, with next Tuesday’s wrapping up the mini-series.

Matt Moore – SP Tampa Bay Rays

I’ve read many reviews in which a man-love cup overfloweth regarding young Mr. Moore, but the most recent seems awfully poignant. Ben Badler, a scouting and development writer for Baseball America, tweeted the following: “Just wrote up Matt Moore’s scouting report for BA. I don’t smoke, but I’m suddenly craving a cigarette.” This hardly seems like hyperbole, considering Moore has fanned 15 of the first 40 batters he’s faced in the major leagues. Oh, not to mention that he fanned 12.2 per nine this season in the minors, which is the worst K rate he’s posted in his five minor league campaigns in the Rays system. There’s gushing, and then there’s what scouts are doing over Moore. Now Moore certainly won’t fan 14.5 per nine like he has in this incredibly small MLB sample size, nor is he likely to whiff the 12-plus per nine he did in the minors, but even settling into the Michael Pineda area of things should provide Matt with all the firepower he needs to win the award in 2012.

Jesus Montero – C New York Yankees

Filling the shoes of a legend is never easy, but it’s a little easier when the legend begins to slip and is relegated to mostly DH duties. Enter Montero, who has taken the junior circuit by storm in posting a 1080 OPS, eight extra-base hits in his first 64 plate appearances, and a .455 wOBA. None of this serves to suggest that small sample sizes aren’t as deceiving as an XL label at A&F, but to help illustrate just how big the expectations will be for the plodding “catcher” next year in the Bronx. He’ll likely DH for almost the entire season, which may hurt his chances since no DH has won the award since Bob Hamelin in 1994. Then again, catching everyday would probably hurt his chances more. The sky is the limit with Montero offensively, and he appears to be the leader in the clubhouse with everyone I’ve chatted with thus far.

Ryan Lavarnway – C Boston Red Sox

An overachiever in some sense of the word, Lavarnway didn’t find himself on anyone’s top 100 list when he began the season with Double-A Portland. Well, 32 home runs and a .939 OPS across two levels later, Lavarnway has to be at least mentioned in the discussion for ROY nominees. In a sense, Lavarnway is in a similar situation as Montero, replacing a legend that has begun his fade to black. Now, the absence of hype might be a reason why Lavarnway doesn’t necessarily belong on this list, but here’s how I look at it: the only person in his way is Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and the only thing he really has on Lavarnway at this point is a longer last name. I could see Lavarnway having a Mark Trumbo-esque rookie season, with his counting stats giving him a fair shot at taking home the hardware at the end of the season. The Red Sox lineup is the perfect one for him to be born into anyway, as it proved in 2010 that it could hide Salty (and Crawford….and Drew) and still be among the AL’s best.

Other candidates: Mike Trout, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos

Columnist note: Ideally, I’d have included Trout, but I don’t think he’ll get enough of a shot in a crowded Angels outfield next season to merit nomination.

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In addition to Rotographs, Warne is a former Minnesota Twins beat writer for 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, and current sportswriter for Sports Data LLC in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com

42 Responses to “Your 2012 AL ROY Candidates”

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  1. Tim says:

    Bryce Harper won’t get any consideration for AL ROY.

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  2. Jon says:

    anytime the new york yankees have 3 potential ROY candidates its pretty scary for the rest of baseball

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    • Claude says:

      Or another sign that their prospects are being overvalued.

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      • Tom B says:

        As opposed to everyone elses’ overvalued prospects?

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      • Brian S. says:

        Only the Yankees have overvalued prospects obviously.

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      • jake says:

        Well, the Yankees are among the teams that seem to consistently have universally overvalued prospects…i.e. not just overvalued by their respective fanbases.

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      • Jerome S says:

        unlike Ryan Lavarnway, who definitely isn’t following in the footsteps of Casy Kelly and Jose Iglesias…

        Everyone’s prospects are overvalued. It takes a bit of hype and BS to make a prospect; otherise, it’s just another tall kid with a stick. If anything, MLB prospects represent the art of hype; who is real, and who is not.

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      • JimNYC says:

        The “Yankees prospects are always overrated” song sounded a bit truer before Montero started tuning up AL pitching.

        Obviously, small sample size, and nobody expects that he’s going to keep up a 1.080 OPS. But I’d be surprised if he did worse than .280/.370/.500, and if he can do that while playing, saying, 35 games at catcher, he’ll be pretty tough to beat.

        Also, Banuelos and Betances have the benefit of a) openings in the Yankees’ rotation, and b) playing in front of the Yankees offense. Even if they’re dead-average pitchers, there’s a good chance they could win 18 games for the Yankees (see Ivan Nova), and wins tend to light up the eyes of ROY voters.

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  3. TK says:

    Is Jason Kipnis ineligible? He hasn’t crossed the 130 AB threshhold yet.

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  4. I figured Kipnis would go over in the next two days. If not, he’s certainly in the mix.

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  5. Brian S. says:

    To be honest I don’t believe Banuelos or Betances will be up soon enough to be contenders. Both had some control problems this season and I would think that they each get a year of seasoning in AAA.

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  6. Stringer Bell says:

    Jacob Turner?

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  7. cwendt says:

    Mike Trout might be a better 3rd candidate than Lavarnway, given playing time concerns.

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  8. Fish Monster says:

    Vernon Christopher Carter.

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  9. Jerome S says:

    Who’s next year’s Ivan Nova? (Unspectacular fringe prospect who puts up teh winz/ Ribbies)

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  10. Shawn says:

    Darkhorse entry: James Paxton and Danny Hultzen. Both possibly be called up half way through the season.

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  11. Eric W. says:

    Shame Brett Lawrie got too many ABs this season. He would have been a prime RoY candidate.

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  12. Patrick H. says:

    May I be so bold as to say Kyle Gibson (13 Wins, 4 Losses, shows ability to strand baserunners well, shows good pitchability with .232 BABIP and below average strikeout rate)

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  13. NOT? What is this? 1994?

    Gibson’s out for 2012 with Tommy John surgery, and I think it was a joke initially, but a bad one. None of those numbers remotely mirror anything Gibson’s done, um, ever.

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  14. Kyle says:

    Any chance Brian Matusz can just make us all forget the last 2 yrs happened and contend for ROY?

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  15. Ryan says:

    Flip Montero and Trout and I think you’ve nailed it. Montero would have to have a monster year for a DH to win ROY. Outside chance that one of the Blue Jays young arms such as Hutchison, Molina, or McGuire get a call-up and run with it. Pretty good list overall though!

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  16. Sean Routt says:

    Mike trout will get it

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