Mike Trout

2012 midseason awards: AL Rookie of the Year

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Thanks to a league ruling restoring a certain Angel’s eligibility, the AL Rookie of the Year race is pretty much a batter for second place. But what a battle it might be.

The candidates:

Mike Trout (LAA): .340/.396/.552, 10 HR, 36 RBI, 22 SB in 241 AB
Will Middlebrooks (Bos): .298/.335/.538, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 3 SB in 171 AB
Yoenis Cespedes (Oak): .270/.330/.486, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 4 SB in 185 AB
Quintin Berry (Det): .295/.388/.394, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 12 SB in 132 AB

Yu Darvish (Tex): 10-5, 3.59 ERA, 117/53 K/BB in 102 2/3 IP
Tommy Milone (Oak): 8-6, 3.73 ERA, 63/24 K/BB in 101 1/3 IP
Wei-Yin Chen (Bal): 7-4, 3.64 ERA, 73/30 K/BB in 99 IP
Matt Moore (TB): 5-5, 4.17 ERA, 93/45 K/BB in 95 IP
Jarrod Parker (Oak): 5-3, 2.46 ERA, 61/39 K/BB in 80 1/3 IP
Scott Diamond (Min):  7-3, 2.63 ERA, 41/11 K/BB in 72 P
Robbie Ross (Tex): 6-0, 1.03 ERA, 26/8 K/BB in 43 2/3 IP
Ryan Cook (Oak): 2-2, 7 Sv, 1.54 ERA, 37/21 K/BB in 35 IP

Here’s how they rank according to Baseball-reference WAR:

4.1 – Trout
2.6 – Parker
2.3 – Darvish
1.9 – Chen
1.6 – Cook
1.6 – Ross
1.5 – Diamond
1.0 – Berry
0.9 – Milone
0.6 – Middlebrooks
-0.3 – Moore
-0.4 – Cespedes

Now, it’s a bad idea to take WAR as gospel anyway and especially so midway through a season, but I find myself in agreement with the way it lines up the top guys here. Trout isn’t only the Rookie of the Half-season, but he’s going to be in the running for MVP honors if he keeps that up.

After Trout, the pitchers dominate. Darvish has 10 wins and is third in the league in strikeouts. Still, I think Parker rates the edge at this point. In his 13 starts, he’s allowed no runs three times, one run six times and two runs twice. Darvish is working deeper into games and pitching in a tougher ballpark, but he’s allowed two runs or fewer in a comparatively modest seven of his 16 starts. Chen is actually closing the gap on him.

It’s worth mentioning the bullpen guys, too. Ross and Cook have been about as valuable as any AL relievers thus far. I think Cook has the better chance of keeping it up, though his walk rate is a concern.

My ballot
1. Trout
2. Parker
3. Darvish

If Brett Anderson hits better this year, thank Josh Donaldson

Los Angeles Dodgers' Brett Anderson ducks away from a pitch from Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher David Holmberg on a bunt attempt during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Associated Press
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Or, at the very least, thank his bat.

Brett Anderson, who hit a meaty .085/.173/.106 last season, just got his first 2016 bat delivery, it seems. He posted a pic of the shiny lumber on Twitter a few minutes ago, with a message to his former teammate, the reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson, whose “JD” initials signifying whose model number it is are plainly visible on the barrel:

 

If Anderson breaks out offensively this year — say, he pushes that OBP over .200 — I may reconsider my “DH in the National League now” argument and merely suggest that pitchers get better bats.

In other news, whose bat was Zack Greinke using last year? And did he leave any behind at Camelback Ranch? Might be worth looking.

Diamondbacks working on a deal with Tyler Clippard

at Citi Field on July 28, 2015 in Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
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Last week Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart revealed that he was interested in signing free agent reliever Tyler Clippard and now Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides have “made progress toward a deal.”

Piecoro notes that by trading Aaron Hill and his remaining contract to the Brewers the Diamondbacks created a bit of payroll flexibility that they could use to sign Clippard.

Clippard has a long history of excellent work as both a setup man and closer, but his raw stuff and secondary numbers have declined even though his ERA remained very good at 2.92 last season for the A’s and Mets. His strikeout rate dipped to a career-low 8.1 per nine innings, which is drop of about 25 percent from 2009-2014.

Two elite Cuban players defect

cuba hat
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Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com just reported that Yulieski Gurriel & Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who are brothers, reportedly defected and will be seeking MLB deals. There aren’t any details yet, but Sanchez will be updating with a full story that we’ll link here when he has it. UPDATE: Here it is.

Yulieski is a 31-year old third baseman and, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler he was the No. 1 player remaining in Cuba. He was one of the Cuban players who was permitted to play in Japan recently, and he just put up a .305/.349/.536 season with 11 homers in 62 games for the Yokohama Bay Stars and has continued to rake in Cuba. He is likely major league ready right this instant. He’d be an unrestricted free agent given his age and team’s signing him would not be subject to international bonus pool limits.

Lourdes is only 22 years old. He’s hit .269/.355/.414 in 1036 Serie Nacional plate appearances and Badler thinks he has 20-homer potential in the majors one day. He’s currently a shortstop, but is probably destined for a corner. He is young enough to where he would be subject to bonus pool limits. Several teams have already exceeded those limits for the current signing period, limiting the number of teams who could sign him. If, however, it takes MLB a long time to clear him as a free agent — and with immigration issues and the like, that’s very possible — he may not be eligible to be signed until next year, which could bring some other teams into the fold.

 

Indians close to signing ex-Nationals reliever Craig Stammen

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Right-hander Craig Stammen, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Nationals, is expected to sign with the Indians.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Indians “hope to finalize a deal” with Stammen today, adding veteran depth to the bullpen. It’ll likely be a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Stammen missed nearly all of last season following elbow surgery and the Nationals non-tendered him, but he’s scheduled to be ready for spring training. After struggling as a starter early in his career he’s posted a 3.02 ERA in 280 innings out of the bullpen, so if healthy it’d be a nice addition for Cleveland.