If I had a vote, Tampa’s Jeff Niemann would get my vote for American League Rookie of the Year. Sadly I don’t, but I can name Niemann the Mudville 9 AL Rookie of the Year. Niemann has put up similar starts to some other rookie AL hurlers, most notably Toronto’s Ricky Romero and the Tigers Boy Wonder Rick Porcello. I’m removing Porcello from top spot consideration because he has a higher ERA and less impressive peripherals than Niemann despite pitching in the weak AL Central. Niemann and Romero have earned their keep in the AL East facing the prospect of regular beatings at the hands of the Yankees and Red Sox. Niemann’s ERA is nearly a half run lower than Romero’s and he has been arguably Tampa’s best starter this season.
Oakland closer Andrew Bailey will receive consideration but he’s the closer on a terrible team and thus his value is depreciated. The White Sox Gordon Beckham and Orioles Nolan Reimold are the two best position players among this year’s rookie class, drawing comparisons to Derek Jeter and Jason Bay respectively. Beckham and Reimold are both hurt by the fact they began the season in the minors. Texas SS Elvis Andrus has been solid at the plate and a game changer in the field and a major reason for the Rangers turn around this season.
Here’s how I rank the 2009 AL rookies:
1. Jeff Niemann, Tampa
2. Rick Porcello, Detroit
3. Gordon Beckham, Chicago
4. Elvis Andrus, Texas
5. Andrew Bailey, Oakland
I’ll unveil my 2009 NL Rookie of the Year later this week. Hint: his name might rhyme with Pommy Fanson.