By Aaron Rife
For the 3rd year in a row a pitcher has won the AL Rookie of the Year. Jeremy Hellickson took home the honor
Matt Moore, SP Tampa Bay Rays: How many pitchers have made their 2nd career start in the postseason, win it, and still have to compete for a rotation spot the following season? I’m willing to bet not very many. Such is the case for Matt Moore. Moore was impressive in only 19 total innings last year (including the postseason), but this year he’s likely to start the season on the outside looking in. Even if that’s the case it won’t be for long. Look for Moore to settle in to the rotation in early May and produce very good numbers: something in the range of 10-4, 3.30 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and a 10+ K/9IP. Very solid numbers but I think he’ll miss out on the ROY in a close battle.
Yu Darvish, SP Texas Rangers: The talk is that Darvish isn’t like any of the other Japanese pitchers to come into the major leagues; he’s bigger, has better stuff, etc. I think he’ll have a solid year but I worry about the Texas heat and the longer season. His first half will be solid thanks to cooler weather and hitters seeing him for the first time; when the second half comes around, teams will have seen what he has to offer and he could wear down in the Texas heat. I look for a line of 12-10, 3.90 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and a k/9 around 8.5.
Jesus Montero, DH/C Seattle Mariners: Montero had been linked to numerous trades throughout the last few years but the Yankees never seemed to want to pull the trigger. They finally did on another uber-prospect in Michael Pineda. The Yankees couldn’t decide if he was a DH or a catcher and finally decided that they didn’t want to decide. From day one in Seattle they’ve said that he’s going to catch. It has to be nice for Montero to finally have a home and a shot at starting every day. Sure Safeco field is death to right handed power hitters but Montero has power to all fields. I think the Mariners will be the surprise team this year and I think Montero will be a huge reason. As long as the top of the order can get on for him, he’ll bring them in. I envision a breakout year: .299 Avg, 40 doubles, 28 HR, 98 RBI, .990 OPS
In The Hunt:
Yeonis Cespedes, OF Oakland A’s: One of the bigger surprises of the winter was Cespedes signing with the A’s. Now in a much crowded outfield, Cespedes won’t have the leeway he would have had with the Marlins. Cespedes is a center fielder and the A’s signed Coco Crisp to play that position, granted it’s only a matter of time before Crisp lands on the DL, it is still a hurdle for a young player going into a situation where he’s unaware of his playing time. My initial view of Cespedes is that he’s a little cocky for someone who’s had as many big league at bats as me. Can his ego take the hit of starting out in the minor leagues or getting benched after a slow start? We’ll see. I predict a line of .279 AVG, 34 doubles, 20 HR, 78 RBI, 10 SB, .895 OPS
Ryan Lavarnway, C Boston Red Sox: A better bat than Salty but can he handle the defensive duties for a catcher? Look for the Red Sox to bring up Lavarnway in June and give him the at bats over Salty (barring an unexpected outbreak by Salty). Boston won’t bring him up and sit him on the bench, so he has that in his favor. The amount of attention the Red Sox get from the media will also be a bonus. Should he come out of the gate hot and stick with the team all season, he’ll have some buzz around awards time. Line: .259 AVG, 17 HR, 55 RBI, .850 OPS.
Leonys Martin, OF Texas Rangers: The other Cuban rookie of note; Leonys Martin has a good chance of breaking camp as the starting center fielder for the Rangers. A solid overall player who will get at bats and plenty of attention of the Rangers keep winning and he’s producing. He doesn’t do anything great but should produce a decent line. My prediction is .294 AVG, 30 doubles, 9 HR, 72 RBI, 20 SBs and excellent defense in center field
My way-too-early prediction- Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners