2012 American League Rookie of the Year Predictions: Mike Trout’s Impact on the AL ROY Race: Without question, the most-talked about rookie in the majors this season and possibly of all-time has been Bryce Harper. However, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is the American League’s version of Harper. The ultra-hyped outfielder got called up from AAA, and although he has played less than 20 games, he is already living up to expectations. That being said, Trout is far from the only rookie worthy of consideration. In fact, the AL Rookie of the Year race is shaping up to be one of the more interesting in recent memory, with several potential future starts in the mix.

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The Favorites – 2012 American League Rookie of the Year Odds and Predictions

Like Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhiro Sasaki before him, Yu Darvish is parlaying his experience in the Japanese professional leagues into a strong start to his major league career. The Rangers’ prized offseason acquisition is currently tied for the American League lead with six wins, and he ranks third with 58 strikeouts. Darvish also has a very respectable 2.60 ERA and a .222 batting average against. Yes, he has some issues with his control from time to time, but his ability to strike out hitters allows him to minimize the damage. With the high-powered Texas offense providing support, Darvish should have no problem piling up wins throughout the season. A 15-plus win campaign will definitely earn him some votes for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

He was billed as a rare combination of power and speed, and Mike Trout has been all that and more in his brief time in the majors this year. The outfielder is hitting .313 with three home runs and three stolen bases in 17 games, along with a .901 OPS. Trout has also scored 12 runs, and as long as he continues to hit leadoff for the Angels, his numbers should continue to impress. With the likes of Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo hitting behind him, Trout should score a ton of runs and see plenty of pitches to hit. A 20-plus home run, 20-plus stolen base season is within reach, and those are the type of numbers that earn a player ROY honors.

The Dark Horses – 2012 American League Rookie of the Year Odds and Predictions

With Michael Pineda going down for the year with an arm injury, there is no question that Seattle got the better of the Yankees when the traded the starter for catcher Jesus Montero. The young power hitter was looking like a frontrunner for AL ROY honors 22 games into the season, when he was hitting .294 with four homers and a .762 OPS. Since then, a mini slump has dropped his batting average down to .244, and Montero has hit just one home run in his last 15 games. With just six walks compared to 33 strikeouts, plate discipline is an issue. However, his hot and cold streaks should balance out to produce some decent power numbers, especially since he hits in the middle of the Mariners’ order. He could lead all AL rookies in homers and RBIs when all is said and done, which should get him noticed by voters.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the young season is that the Baltimore Orioles are in first place. Pitching has been a huge part of their success, and Wei-Yin Chen has certainly done his part. The rookie has a 4-0 record after seven starts, and his 2.45 ERA and .231 batting average against are both very respectable. He isn’t a big strike out guy, but Chen has been the model of consistency this year, allowing no more than three earned runs in any start and allowing two earned runs or less in six of his seven outings. He has also gone at least seven innings in three of his last four starts. Smooth and steady could win the AL ROY race for Chen.

Sleeper Specials – 2012 American League Rookie of the Year Odds and Predictions

Throw out one ugly appearance, and Addison Reed has been practically unhittable for the Chicago bullpen this season. The rookie reliever has a 4.38 ERA, but all six runs he has surrendered came in one appearance. Reed has 17 strikeouts in just 12.1 innings this year, and he is holding opponents to a .196 batting average. More importantly, he has taken over as the team’s closer in recent weeks, going four-for-four in save chances. If he continues to pile up saves and strikeouts, Reed could make a serious run at the Rookie of the Year Award.

While the Detroit Tigers are struggling to meet their high expectations this season, starter Drew Smyly is exceeding his. The rookie lefty has a 2.31 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a .225 batting average against this year. He also has 38 strikeouts compared to just 11 walks in 39 innings and has allowed two earned runs or less in all but one appearance. Despite the solid numbers, Smyly is just 1-0 on the year in large part because he has never pitched more than six innings in any start. He is going to continue to have a lot of no decisions if he doesn’t pitch deeper into games, and even with strong numbers, Smyly is going to need to win some more games to be more than just an honorable mention in the ROY race.

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