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

Max Scherzer (hamstring) leaves start vs. Mets after just 1 inning

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WASHINGTON — Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer left his start for the Nationals against the New York Mets after just 27 pitches Wednesday night due to a hamstring injury.

He was replaced in the top of the second by Erick Fedde.

Scherzer was not as sharp as usual at the outset Wednesday, going 2-0 counts against each of New York’s initial two batters, walking one and giving up a single to the other.

The Mets eventually went ahead in the first on Dominic Smith‘s sacrifice fly.

Scherzer entered the game with an 0-1 record and 2.84 ERA this season.