The National League, unlike its counterpart, has had a really strong crop of ROY candidates over the last two seasons. In 2010, Jason Heyward and Buster Posey dueled for the award while leading their teams to the playoffs, with Posey winning both the award and the World Championship. Last year, a pair of Braves sat at the top of the rankings, with Craig Kimbrel having the best season for a rookie reliever in MLB history and besting teammate Freddie Freeman. This year, another Braves rookie will be in the mix, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be the favorite.
Favorites: This conversation will begin with Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, who will be initially splitting team behind the plate in Cincinnati with Ryan Hanigan. Mesoraco is a supremely talented hitter who should claim the job by midseason, and will probably take control of the race for the award. A former Red, Yonder Alonso, was dealt to the Padres in the offseason, and will be their starting first baseman going into the year. Petco Park will probably obliterate his power, though. Drew Pomeranz, acquired by the Rockies from the Indians last year, has earned a spot in Colorado’s rotation and is expected to thrive in the majors. And then, there’s the Brave I was talking about: Tyler Pastornicky, who will be the team’s starting shortstop. Pastornicky isn’t expected to hit much, and I can really only see him winning the award if there are major collapses from some of the favorites. Speaking of light-hitting middle infielders, the Phillies are going to be giving Freddy Galvis a lot of playing time after injuries to Chase Utley and his backup, Michael Martinez.
Heat in the Desert: The Arizona Diamondbacks have a trio of immensely talented starting pitchers who finished the year at AA Mobile and could sniff the majors as early as midseason. Trevor Bauer was the third overall pick in the 2011 draft, and struck out 43 in 25 2/3 innings in his professional debut last year. Pat Corbin and Tyler Skaggs were both acquired in the Dan Haren trade and had great seasons, especially Skaggs, who struck out 198 in 158 1/3 innings last year. With Joe Saunders and Josh Collmenter eating up slots in Arizona’s rotation, don’t be surprised if one or both of them lose their jobs to the talented youngsters.
Probably Not This Year: Colorado gave top prospect Wilin Rosario a job on their bench, but I don’t think he’s ready, especially after the Rockies signed veteran Ramon Hernandez this offseason. Top Pirates prospect Starling Marte is starting the year in the minors, and unless Alex Presley is a disaster in left field, I don’t think he’ll get a callup. Another Braves prospect, Joey Terdoslavich, has bypassed AA and will start in AAA, but the Braves probably won’t push him unless third base is a disaster.
The Verdict: I’m going to go with Alonso, even with the threat of Petco Park looming. He’s the only rookie that has a starting job guaranteed with no one pushing him, and I think he compiles his way to the award.