American League Rookie of the Year

The American League Rookie of the Year voting is likely to be more straightforward than its National League counterpart. While the NL has a variety of candidates with legitimate chances of winning, the AL has only three real challengers: Elvis Andrus, Andrew Bailey, and Rick Porcello.

1. Elvis Andrus, SS – Andrus raises the question of how much fielding should count. He was responsible for 3 WAR, yet he was worth -5 WAR as a hitter. His total leads all AL rookies, primarily because he is already an outstanding defensive shortstop. The UZR/150 rating used by Fangraphs considers him the third best defensive shortstop in the American League already. For me, that is enough to vault him to the top of the list.

2. Andrew Bailey, RP – Bailey was a dominant closer on an A’s team that was never competitive and never watched. Despite that, he had an outstanding year with 26 saves and 9.83 K/9. He accounted for 2.4 WAR, tops among rookie relievers in the AL.

3. Rick Porcello, SP – I suspect that Porcello will win, yet he is distinctly the weakest candidate of the three. His 1.9 WAR is third among rookie starters, trailing Jeff Niemann of the Rays and Ricky Romero of the Blue Jays. Porcello has good basic numbers, going 14-9 with an ERA below 4, but his peripherals are weak. He struck barely more than 4 batters per 9 innings, portending serious difficulties going forward. However, he was the only rookie to make season long contributions to a team in a real playoff race. While I can certainly see the argument to place Niemann or Romero above him, I give him a bonus for his help on a competitive team. (Niemann in particular has similar W-L and ERA with better strikeout numbers.)

Honorable Mention: Jeff Niemann and Ricky Romero, as discussed above.

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