Bryce Harper

2012 midseason awards: NL Rookie of the Year

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If the NL is going to narrow the talent gap with the AL in the coming years, it doesn’t really show up here. Sure, there’s a likely superstar playing well in Bryce Harper, but the AL can seemingly cancel him out with Mike Trout, who is playing a whole lot better. Beyond Harper, it’s a weak class of rookies in the NL.

The candidates:

Zack Cozart (Cin): .250/.298/.403, 8 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB in 308 AB
Yonder Alonso (SD): .257/.338/.355, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 2 SB in 276 AB
Kirk Nieuwenhuis (NYM): .275/.335/.414, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 3 SB in 244 AB
Bryce Harper (Was): .276/.349/.478, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 8 SB in 228 AB
Norichika Aoki (Mil): .292/.355/.440, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 10 SB in 209 AB
Todd Frazier (Cin): .273/.342/.552, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 1 SB in 165 AB
Wilin Rosario (Col): .247/.280/.533, 14 HR, 36 RBI, 3 SB in 182 AB
Andrelton Simmons (Atl): .323/.364/.495, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB in 99 AB

Lucas Harrell (Hou): 7-6, 4.56 ERA, 65/35 K/BB in 102 2/3 IP
Wade Miley (Ari): 9-4, 2.87 ERA, 66/19 K/BB in 94 IP
Randall Delgado (Atl): 4-8, 4.52 ERA, 64/39 K/BB in 79 2/3 IP
Michael Fiers (Mil): 3-2, 2.29 ERA, 41/8 K/BB in 39 1/3 IP
Jared Hughes (Pit): 2-0, 1 Sv, 2.20 ERA, 21/14 K/BB in 41 IP

And here’s how Baseball-reference WAR ranks them:

2.2 – Miley
2.2 – Simmons
1.6 – Cozart
1.5 – Harper
1.4 – Fiers
1.2 – Aoki
1.2 – Frazier
0.8 – Nieuwenhuis
0.7 – Rosario
0.4 – Hughes
0.3 – Harrell
-0.2 – Delgado
-0.4 – Alonso

Yeah, WAR is that wild about Simmons’ defense. Most seem in agreement that he’s already one of the game’s best glovemen at short, and he’s been surprisingly productive offensively. Still, he’s played in all of 28 games this season, so I don’t think he belongs on the Rookie of the Year ballot just yet.

Like WAR, I think it comes down to Miley, Cozart and Harper. Frazier and Rosario are putting up great power numbers, but they’ve received only limited action and both could be called defensive liabilities. While Rosario has been above average at throwing out basestealers, he’s committed a major league-high eight errors behind the dish.

Miley gave up eight runs last time out, but he’s allowed one or no runs in eight of 13 starts. The Diamondbacks have scored a total of five runs in his four losses.

Cozart is miscast as a top-of-the-order hitter, but he’s been solid enough offensively and defensively. I don’t think he has much of a ceiling, but just being an average regular is good enough to get him a spot on the ballot right now.

And then there’s Harper. He’s not a superstar yet, but he’s been a whole lot better than I figured he’d be as a 19-year-old. He’ll probably show a bit more power in the second half, and he has to be regarded as the favorite to win the hardware in the end-of-season balloting. Right now, though, he’s the runner-up.

My ballot
1. Miley
2. Harper
3. Cozart

2012 midseason awards: AL Rookie of the Year

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.