With the NFL season getting ready to go, a lot of the media attention is expected to be diverted away from baseball. The NFL reigns king in American sports, and here in Dallas, the Rangers become an afterthought as soon as the Cowboys start their preseason. With the Rangers performing beyond many people’s expectations, some of the media has still remained attentive towards the likely AL West winners.
A healthy portion of the Rangers success can be attributed to their rookie closer Neftali Feliz, who has wowed audiences and pleased the Ranger faithful. But is he the likely winner of the Rookie of the Year award in the AL? If this question has crossed your mind then you’re in the right place, as I’m going to break down the candidates for the American League Rookie of the Year.
AL Rookie of the Year Candidates
Neftali Feliz – Rangers CP
Neftali Feliz has been on the minds of many Rangers fans since he was called up the majors in 2009 against the Oakland A’s. He dazzled in his debut en route to a scoreless two innings of work and four strikeouts. 2010 brought about lofty expectations, and he’s filled every bit of those expectations. His stats on the year up until August 29th are 3 wins, 3 losses, 32 saves, and 58 K’s in 56 innings of work. Those sound like pretty healthy stats to me. If there is one knock on Feliz’s RoY campaign it’s his ERA, which at 3.38 is a bit high for a closer. Still though, he’s set the tone for the Rangers bullpen, and even more importantly he’s closing in on Kaz Sasaki’s record of 37 saves for a rookie.
Major argument for Rookie of the Year award: Neftali Feliz already has 32 saves on the year with a month left to go. Oakland’s Andrew Bailey won the Rookie of the Year honors last year with 26 saves.
Brennan Boesch – Detroit OF
Brennan Boesch has been a hit both for the Detroit Tigers and fantasy owners who managed to get their hands on him from their depleted free agency pools. Boesch was selected in the 3rd round of the 2006 MLB draft, and his first season in the majors is showing why the Tigers went with him. His stats read .270 BA, 14 HR, 61 RBI, and a .784 OPS. He’s cooled off a bit from the first half, but his stat line still presents a legitimate argument for his Rookie of the Year chances.
Major argument for Rookie of the Year award: Brennan Boesch leads all rookies with 14 HR.
Austin Jackson – Detroit OF
Imagine how Brennan Boesch feels. He’s having a great rookie campaign, but he might not even be the best rookie outfielder on his team. Austin Jackson has justified the Tigers faith of putting him in the starting lineup since the beginning of the season, with a batting average of .308, 8 triples (tied for most in the majors), 28 RBI, 21 SB, and a .771 OPS. Filling the role of a leadoff hitter can be a daunting task, but Jackson has far exceeded the Tigers expectations. He’s also been seen making some great plays in the outfield.
Major argument for Rookie of the Year Award: Austin Jackson has already outperformed OF Curtis Granderson. Remember the Yankees and Tigers had a trade, and Jackson was the main prospect the Tigers wanted from the Yankees.
Final Thoughts: There are probably more candidates in the AL that I could have mentioned, but compared the NL, the AL really isn’t deep with rookies this year. At the risk of sounding like a homer, my vote is for Neftali Feliz of the Rangers. While Austin Jackson has had an outstanding year (and is a fellow Denton-ite), his role on the team hasn’t been quite as significant as Feliz’s. Feliz has been the staple of the bullpen for a team that is very likely headed to the postseason, and because of his great play in such a pressure-packed position, he’s my choice for the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year.
All stats provided thanks to http://www.baseball-reference.com/