Angels phenom Mike Trout can’t be the 2012 Rookie of the Year

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Because MLB’s math works a little differently.

To qualify as a rookie for MLB purposes, a player cannot have more than 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched or 45 non-September days of service time on the active roster total in previous seasons.

Mike Trout would seem to have none of those things. He finished 2011 with 123 at-bats and 38 non-September days on the Angels’ active roster.

Trout’s rookie status, however, will be a casualty of one of MLB’s most obscure transaction rules. Trout’s midsummer demotion last year lasted 17 days, which is short of the 20 days MLB requires for the demotion not to count against service time.

So while Trout only spent those 38 days on the active roster, he’ll be credited with an extra 17 days of service time, which, for these purposes, is counted as being the same thing.

Hopefully, MLB will look at its rookie rules one of these years and clarify them. This technicality shouldn’t be held against Trout. The league could also tweak it so that the position player cutoff is based on plate appearances, rather than at-bats, and so that a reliever called up right after the All-Star break who pitches 30-40 innings doesn’t qualify as a rookie the next year.

But there’s also a bigger concern for the Angels here. Instead of having 66 days of service time (the original 38 plus the 28 days in September), Trout now has 83 days. That’s not going to be an issue for arbitration and free agency if Trout opens 2012 in the majors and goes on to establish himself as a star, but it could if the team follows through with its plan to have Trout begin the season in the minors.

Hat tip to the Orange County Register’s Sam Miller, who has the official word from MLB over on his blog.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.