A lot can happen throughout a 162-game baseball season. Records are broken, injuries happen, walk-offs occur…you get the picture. And every single year, some of the better young players in baseball sneak by the conscious of a casual sports fan, until they explode on to the scene a year later and you find yourself dazed and confused, saying “Who is THAT and where did he come from?”
Good thing you have us, then. Because at Three Up, Three Down, we eat, sleep and drink baseball as if our lives depend on it. And we keep such a close eye on all the MLB goings-on, that we know right now who those “you don’t know me but you will” kind of guys are.
With that in mind, here is our National League version of the All-Unknown team – one stud you probably haven’t heard of yet, at each position:
Catcher: Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies (.252/22/56 in 88 games)
Rosario is a candidate for NL Rookie of the Year, and you can see by that slash line exactly why. He has made Ramon Hernandez an afterthought in Colorado, and if his power grows with his age, watch out.
1st Base: Jordan Pacheco, Colorado Rockies (.308/2/35 in 99 games)
Rosario’s teammate Pacheco can play both corner infield positions (actually, he’s an awful fielder but he has experience at both spots at least), but he’s in the bigs for his bat. The 26-year-old’s power hasn’t fully developed, but that average is pretty.
2nd Base: Alexi Amarista, San Diego Padres (.253/5/28 in 82 games)
Standing 5’7″ and weighing 150 pounds, it’s a small miracle that Amarista has muscled five homers this year. But this spark plug plays every, and I mean every position for the Padres and is a great defender at all of them. He could become an ideal top of the order guy for years to come.
3rd Base: Luis Cruz, Los Angeles Dodgers (.298/4/29 in 46 games)
Cruz got the call-up in early July and has done nothing but rake since joining the big league team. His defense is spectacular (.987 fielding percentage over his career at shortstop, 3rd base and 2nd base), and his bat is coming along nicely.
Shortstop: Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies (.348/7/26 in 39 games)
Is this the all-Rockies team? No. I promise. I don’t even like the Rockies. But that doesn’t make the fact that the guys who are replacing injured stars (Troy Tulowitzki in this case) are killing it, any less true. Rutledge has been told he’ll move to second base permanently when Tulo returns.
Outfield: Tyler Colvin, Colorado Rockies (.289/15/56 in 103 games)
I really wanted to put the Cubs’ Brett Jackson up here, but a couple weeks’ worth of games is not enough to justify a spot on the team. Colvin on the other hand, should be known to fans by now. He has raked in Chicago and Colorado, just never consistently enough to start regularly. Just give it another season or so.
Outfield: Justin Ruggiano, Miami Marlins (.327/13/31 in 70 games)
The Fish may have stumbled across their future leadoff hitter by virtue of trading for this former Rays’ prospect. Ruggiano has been ridiculous in half a season this year and is so athletic that I doubt he’ll regress much.
Outfield: Tyler Moore, Washington Nationals (.285/7/22 in 59 games)
Yes, I know. The big, bad rookie outfielders for the Nationals are Bryce Harper and Steve Lombardozzi. Well, don’t forget about Tyler Moore. The kid has a great swing and will start tearing it up once he gets a shot at starting every day.
Starting Pitcher: Lucas Harrell, Houston Astros (10-9/3.92/1.33 in 26 starts)
Keep in mind that those numbers, though they may pale in comparison to other young guns like Mike Fiers and Wade Miley, are possibly the best in the Astros’ rotation. No offensive support, average defense behind him – Harrell has a chance to be good, people.
Relief Pitcher: Jeremy Horst, Philadelphia Phillies (18.2 IP, 22 K, 0.96 ERA, 1.13 WHIP in 19 appearances)
This was the best rookie I could find who is putting up solid relief numbers that everyone didn’t already know about. And Horst is a lefty specialist to a tee. The Phils have counted on him to bail them out of big spots all year, and Horst has delivered.
You’ll thank us when these guys become rich and famous and awesome in the next few years. Did we forget anyone? Snub your team’s young star? Let us know in the comments below, but remember it’s unknown players. So don’t yell at us for omitting someone like Todd Frazier or Matt Harvey. Thanks!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
It’s been a season for the ages, what with three perfect games (so far), five no-hitters, Mike Trout, a four-homer game, two cycles in one week, Mike Trout, crazy trades, Chipper’s farewell, and of course, Mike Trout.
But the ultimate pinnacle of 2012 will occur around Halloween hangover time, when an official World Series champion will be crowned. Shortly thereafter, we find out who a bunch of writers think were the best hitters, pitchers, rookies and managers in baseball this season.
And we all know who the big candidates are: Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Justin Verlander, Buck Showalter, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Davey Johnson, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Trout and Mike Trout.
Did I mention Mike Trout might win every award ever created for 2012?
Here’s how I expect it to go when the final tally comes across:
American League: Trout (MVP/Rookie of the Year), Felix Hernandez (Cy Young), Showalter (Manager of the Year)
National League: McCutchen (MVP), Wade Miley (Rookie of the Year), R.A. Dickey (Cy Young), Johnson (Manager of the Year)
Womp, womp. That’s fun. But how about the dark horse candidates in each league for each of these awards? The guys like “Brendan Conlon” (Joel Edgerton) from the movie Warrior (Side bar: if you haven’t seen it, go. Leave this blog immediately and Red Box that sh*taki right now.), who are up against all odds and turn in an incredible performance to take home the hardware? Someone you would never expect to have a chance?
Here is my list of three dark horse candidates for each major award in each league for the 2012 MLB season:
Leading candidates: Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, Robinson Cano, Paul Konerko
Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: Arguably the best story in all of baseball this season has been the resurgence of the Orioles. The catalyst in the offense is All-Star center fielder Jones. His slash line in 2012: .290/24/65/12 SB
Josh Willingham, OF, Twins: Normally I shy away from great players on losing teams (sorry, Edwin Encarnacion), but I can’t ignore what Willingham has brought to the Twins. This season: .258/31/91/.900 OPS
A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox: An unlikely first place team led by an unlikely season from their catcher. Sure, Paul Konerko is pitching in, but look at the damage A.J. has inflicted on opposing pitchers: .293/23/70/.877 OPS
A.L. Cy Young:
Leading candidates: Verlander, Hernandez, Jered Weaver, Chris Sale, David Price
Jake Peavy, White Sox: He is only 9-9, but records really are out of a pitcher’s control. His peripherals are really good. And did I mention the White Sox are potentially playoff bound? Peavy’s numbers: 9-9/3.09/155/1.08
Matt Harrison, Rangers: Shame on you for not recognizing Harrison’s dominance. On one of the best teams in baseball, he’s been their most consistent starter, low strikeout numbers be damned: 15-7/3.04/101/1.22
Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees: A big free agent signing for the Yankees has been fantastic this season in maintaining some sense of sanity in the messed up world that is the Bombers’ rotation: 12-9/2.98/131/1.10
A.L. Rookie of the Year:
Leading candidates: Trout, Yu Darvish, Brett Lawrie, Will Middlebrooks, Yoenis Cespedes, Jesus Montero
Quintin Berry, OF, Tigers: Berry came up as an injury replacement and forced his way into the everyday lineup. Average, speed, a little pop and great defense? What more could you ask for? His line: .272/2/24/17 SB (in 17 tries)
Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners: Mark my words – the Mariners are really heading in the right direction. One of the offensive cornerstones they will build around is this guy. Could be a big power hitter soon: .252/15/73/.725 OPS
Tommy Milone, SP, Athletics: Untouchable at home, but has had his share of growing pains. That being said, Milone looks like he has the potential to develop into a very special starter: 10-9/3.87/112/1.19
A.L. Manager of the Year:
Leading candidates: Showalter, Robin Ventura, Ron Washington, Joe Girardi, Jim Leyland
Bob Melvin, Athletics: Maybe he should have been considered a “leading candidate.” But he manages an Oakland ball club that has to have a movie made about them to get national attention. His team is 69-57. I honestly expected 100 losses.
Joe Maddon, Rays: A contender every year it seems, Maddon might not get a ton of recognition this year because people are used to him being a great manager. But the Rays are leading the Wild Card despite losing Evan Longoria to injury for most of the season.
Eric Wedge, Mariners: Again, props where props are due, people! Wedge has turned this exceptionally young, raw M’s team into a force to be reckoned with. With such a baby-faced team, they are only 5 games under .500, 8.5 back in the Wild Card.
Leading candidates: McCutchen, Buster Posey, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun, David Wright, Carlos Ruiz
Angel Pagan, OF, Giants: The Braves finally figured out how to tame the wild beast that was Angel Pagan yesterday, but before that he was hitting over .500 in his previous week’s worth of games. With Melky Cabrera suspended, Pagan could steal a potential MVP award from his teammate Posey if the Giants make the playoffs: .292/7/48/21 SB
Jason Heyward, OF, Braves: Speaking of the Braves, how about the ridiculous season Heyward is having? I guess the sophomore slump is real, because J-Hey is back going Yicketty and Mammo all day in a solid third season: .278/23/68/18 (please don’t remind me he’s 7 months younger than me…it hurts)
Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals: Teammates Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are stealing the thunder in St. Louis these days, but I bet if you polled the clubhouse, Yadi would be the team MVP. If the Cards make another miracle run to the playoffs, this award could be his: .326/17/61/11 SB/.892 OPS (and we know about the defense)
N.L. Cy Young:
Leading candidates: Dickey, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, A.J. Burnett, Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Cole Hamels, Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel
Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals: I’m a little bit offended that Zim’s fantastic season is going under the radar. Sure he’s overshadowed by two of his own teammates, but check this line: 9-7/2.48/119/1.11
Ryan Vogelsong, Giants: Speaking of being overshadowed by two of his teammates, Vogelsong is quietly having a career year. His peripheral stats are off the charts in 2012: 11-7/2.90/122/1.19
Kyle Lohse, Cardinals: Speaking of being over…wait. You mean to tell me KYLE LOHSE has been the best pitcher for the Cardinals this year? Undoubtedly, this has been the most anonymous Cy campaign of 2012: 13-2/2.61/104/1.08
N.L. Rookie of the Year:
Leading candidates: Miley, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rizzo, Zack Cozart, Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier, Wilin Rosario
Mike Fiers, SP, Brewers: KP can attest to how incredibly good Fiers has been this year. When he shut down the Dodgers earlier this season I thought it was a fluke. His numbers in 2012 would beg to differ: 7-6/2.98/96/1.13
Norichika Aoki, OF, Brewers: Okay, maybe now I’m just sucking up to KP. Just kidding – there was no way to avoid putting Aoki on here with the type of spark he’s been for Milwaukee: .279/6/30/19 SB
Steve Lombardozzi, OF, Nationals: I went back and forth here between Lombardozzi, who has been just as good, if not better than his teammate Harper, and Colorado infielder Jordan Pacheco. Lombo gets the nod: .281/2/23/hitting leadoff for a 1st-place team
N.L. Manager of the Year:
Bud Black, Padres: “What! The Padres suck this year!” Au contraire, monsieur (for you who are Frenchly challenged, I believe that translates to YOU ARE WRONG, DUMMY)! How about 28-20 since the All-Star Break with a roster of nobodies?
Mike Matheny, Cardinals: Another guy not getting much credit for keeping his team in an extremely tough race is Matheny. He’s in his first year managing, has dealt with a plethora of injuries and the loss of Pujols. Still, the Cards are in line to win a Wild Card berth.
Terry Collins, Mets: I know the Mets are out of it, but is it still not an admirable job that Collins has done in the Big Apple? Besides David Wright and R.A. Dickey, the man has nothing to work with, yet the Mets were still a contender into mid-July.
*All statistics current as of start of play on Sunday, August 26th, 2012*
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)