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The 2012 Rookie Class Pitchers

Two weeks ago we discussed some of the leading rookie position players. I will make a prediction right now: If he is healthy and continues playing the way he has so far, Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals will be the National League Rookie of the Year and it wonít be close. Harper as of today, through his first 37 games, is putting up numbers rivaling the other two great age-19 seasons in MLB history, that of Hall of Famer Mel Ott in 1928 with the New York Giants (a .921 OPS), and the 1964 season of tragic Tony Conigliaro of the Boston Red Sox (.882 OPS). Both players had a bit over 400 At-Bats and Harper, who stands at .885 after 142 ABs, is right on track to join them.

I get to see a lot of Harper since I live in the Nationalsí media market, and Friday night on a big stage (no less than Fenway Park), he touched up BoSox lefty Felix Dubront with a ringing double and a home run to the deepest part of the park. Harper himself bats left-handed, so the feat was even more impressive.

I did want to spend today discussing the leading rookie pitchers, even though I am so impressed by Harper I had to mention him. There were several highly touted rookies coming into 2012, first we should mention Matt Moore of the Tampa Bay Rays, who pitched brilliantly in September for the playoff-bound Rays and then hurled a brilliant game against the eventual American League winners Texas Rangers in the first game of the playoffs. Moore himself is but 22 this season; the Rays seemingly have a never-ending production line of pitching prospects coming out of their fecund development system. So far Matt has won 3, lost 5 with a 4.59 ERA and a mediocre 1.46 WHIP (Walks + Hits/Innings Pitched). So itís not that easy, but he will be good, as 71 strikeouts in 68 innings indicate. Good enough to be AL Rookie of the Year? Not so far.

Even more hyped was Japanese import Yu Darvish. Yu was the top pitcher in Japanese baseball for several years before the Rangers put up more than $100 million to first get the rights to negotiate with him, and then sign him. Yu got off to a fine start, but currently he is 7-4 with a 3.72 ERA and a lackluster 1.51 WHIP. He does show 77 strikeouts in 72.2 innings, but he also has 44 walks so he is not always finding the plate. With the Rangersí potent offense and generally good defense, he will get plenty of opportunities to register wins, however.

The biggest surprise so far would be lefty Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose work prior to this season did not indicate he would be this good. He is 7-2, with a fine 2.53 ERA and sterling 1.09 WHIP. Things have not gone the D-backsí way so far in 2012, but Miley has bolstered their rotation.

Still, he will have little chance to finish ahead of the brilliant Mr. Harper for NL Rookie of the Year in 2012. And you read it here first.

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