The All-Star Break is upon us, and until game action starts up again on Friday, we're going to do a brief season in review of the 2012 MLB season thusfar. Our staff has voted on a variety of awards, and we're going to roll them out over the next four days.
The National League Rookie of the Year award is going to be a very polarizing award. Of our seven voters, we had eight players receive votes on the three man ballot (awarding points in a 3-2-1 system). However, despite eight players getting votes…only one received first place votes. Yep, another clean sweep.
NL Rookie of the Year
1) Bryce Harper (21 points, seven first place votes)
2) Wade Miley (six points)
3) Todd Frazier (four points)
4) Zach Cozart (two points)
5) Lance Lynn (two points)
6) Andrelton Simmons (two points)
7) Norichika Aoki (one point)
8) Michael Fiers (one point)
What can you say about Bryce Harper that hasn't been said (or mumbled begrudgingly) before? Despite being just fourth in the NL in fWAR among rookies at 1.7, Harper provides the best overall package with his skills. He's fourth in homers, second in steals, fifth in batting average, and third in OPS. He's also playing every day since his callup, totaling 277 plate appearances in his 63 games. Harper is the total package, he's getting a lot of playing attention, and he's one of the brightest stars on one of the best teams in the majors.
Wade Miley came out of nowhere to slot himself into a Diamondbacks rotation that has had it's share of injuries this year, and along with Harper, he's an All-Star in Kansas City. Miley is one of three NL rookie pitchers to throw 100 innings. The seven NL rookie pitchers with a lower ERA than Miley have thrown less than half of the innings that he has, with four of them being relievers. Miley hasn't been outstanding, but he's been a two win pitcher for Arizona in the first half, which has completely caught the league off guard.
I'm going to talk about Todd Frazier and Zach Cozart in the same breath, because they've combined to back the left side of Cincinnati's infield more formidable. Frazier has nine homers and a NL rookie-leading .901 OPS while taking over the third base job from the injured veteran Scott Rolen. Cozart also has nine homers while playing as the Reds' starting shortstop. Cozart isn't as good offensively as Frazier, posting just a .707 OPS with a scary .298 OBP. But he's giving the Reds some good defense up the middle, which helps add to his value.
Cardinals rookie starter Lance Lynn is also an All-Star, but has struggled lately. allowing 17 runs over a span of 15 1/3 innings in three June starts. But while Lynn's star might be losing some of its luster lately, he still has a 3.41 ERA for the year, and is striking out a batter per inning.
Braves rookie Andrelton Simmons will likely fall off of this list in the postseason voting, because he broke a finger on Sunday and will miss at least four weeks for the Braves. It's a shame too, because Simmons has been the absolute best defender in baseball since his callup in June. The man has been worth 1.6 fWAR in only 33 games, and while a .788 OPS helps, his 5.9 UZR and +16 DRS are the real stars of his game.
And we close our voting with a pair of Brewers, starter MIchael Fiers and outfielder Norichika Aoki. Fiers is actually third in fWAR among all NL rookie pitchers in just eight games (seven starts) thanks to a 2.31 ERA, 9.64 strikeout rate, and 1.74 walk rate. The 27 year-old likely isn't this good, but a struggling Brewers team has to like every bright spot they see. As for Aoki, he was signed for much, much less than the bigger name Japanese signings in recent years, but has been better than most. The 30 year-old has an .819 OPS in 77 games, and has claimed an every day role in the outfield and at the top of Milwaukee's lineup after starting off the year as a bench player. Milwaukee paid just $5 million for Aoki, including a two year, $2.5 million contract and a $2.5 million posting fee. That's a pretty good deal three months in.