You read the title of this article, otherwise you wouldn't be here. Clearly there is some chicanery afoot. After all, with the mind-blowingly amazing season Mike Trout is having, how could there possibly be any question about who the American League Rookie of the Year is going to be this year?
The 20-year old phenom is re-writing the record books on a seemingly daily basis. He is going to win the AL RoY even if he gets struck by lightning and never plays again (though one could argue that lightning does not strike Trout, it is Trout that strikes lightning). In fact, Trout is so good at breaking records and milestones that he has even been able to break the rule book too.
Going by the letter of the law, Mike Trout technically should not be considered a rookie thanks to his abbreviated playing time with the Angels in 2011. However, sensing the lost marketing opportunity, MLB stepped in to tweak the rookie eligibility rules and magically restore Trout to rookie status. That's right, Mike Trout is so good that he can get Bud Selig to change the rules. Now if only he could use powers for good and convince Selig to expand instant replay for the 2013 season. But I digress…
The shame of it all is that had Selig been more of a stickler for the rules, the AL Rookie of the Year race would be a rather exceptional one and not the lopsided affair Trout has turned it into.
If not for Trout, Boston's Willie Middlebrooks would be touted as a front-runner for the award with his current .300/.329/.531 slash line. And he'd probably be locked in a battle with Oakland's Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes (.308/.362/.531) with A's fans decrying all the East Coast Bias Middlebrooks is getting.
Or maybe there would be concern that Cespedes would get short-changed in the voting because fellow A's rookie Jarrod Parker who owns a very solid 3.44 ERA would split that West Coast vote somewhat? And what if control specialist Tommy Milone can improve his 3.68 ERA a few ticks and split the Oakland vote three ways? Heck, why not throw in All-Star closer Ryan Cook and make it a four-man affair while we are at it? That would make for some very interesting politicking come voting season.
There is also the sleeping giant of the race, Yu Darvish. On talent and brand recognition alone, Darvish could run away with this fictional race, but with his ERA skyrocketing to 4.38 in recent weeks, there would be an impetus on him to get his season back on track so that his other numbers can match up well with his big, shiny strikeout totals.
Then there is the small matter of all the unheralded entrants in the field. Wei-Yin Chen has quietly been a stalwart in the surprising Orioles rotation. Scott Diamond is seventh in the entire American League in ERA (and he's a Twin pitcher that is actually good!). Quintin Berry came out of nowhere to become a legitimate sparkplug for the Tigers.
Factor in all the local beat writers and their propensity to vote with horrible bias and there are between six and eight different AL rookies who could wind up with a first place vote… if Mike Trout wasn't involved thanks to his ability to bend the rules through sheer force of will. But he is involved and he will get every single first-place vote (unless a writer decides he wants to grab some headlines for himself by voting for someone else, which sadly can't be ruled out).
Thanks, Mike Trout. Thanks for ruining the fun for everyone else.
(But really, thanks for being one of the most exciting players in generations, because really who is going to care who won the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year twenty years from now? And who really cares about the "exception" that was made for Trout since it was kind of a stupid rule anyway?)