Merry Wieters-mas Day! The Baltimore Orioles have recalled uber-prospect Matt Wieters. Despite missing the first two months of the season, Wieters is currently the favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year award.
Currently, there is just one rookie hitter who qualifies for the batting title - Texas Rangers SS Elvis Andrus. He has an impressive slash stat line given his AA production. His lack of plate discipline will keep his OBP in the very low .300s, and the value of Andrus' defense at shortstop will be negated by Wieters' value as a catcher.
After Andrus, the rookie hitter with the 2nd most ABs in the AL is New York Yankees utilityman Ramiro Pena. He isn't a serious contender to be the top rookie utility man much less the overall ROY. 5th in ABs is Cleveland Indians' OF Trevor Crowe. He possesses the prospect pedigree to avoid the snark Pena received, but his lack of power and full-time opportunity eliminate any chance he can go Pat Listach and win the award.
The only serious competition right now comes from Wieters' former Norfolk teammate, OF Nolan Reimold. Reimold possesses the skills to fill the counting stats, but may struggle with full-time ABs with the return of Luke Scott and the presence of Ty Wigginton, five HRs notwithstanding.
As for rookie pitchers bringing serious competition to the table, Wieters' new teammate Koji Uehara and the 20-year-old Rick Porcello of the Detroit Tigers offer the most competition. Pocello has the best ERA of the two and offers a sexier choice than a 34-year-old veteran of the Japanese leagues.
After Porcello and Uehara, the Oakland A's pair of rookie starters, Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, sit with ERAs near 5.00 and ugly peripherals - 23 Ks in 43.1 innings and a 1.8 K:BB for Anderson and 24 Ks in 54.2 with a 1.0 K:BB for Cahill!
There are some interesting rookies who haven't pitched a lot of innings including relievers Andrew Bailey of the Oakland A's and Ryan Perry of the Detroit Tigers. Both have the stats to intrigue (Bailey with 37 Ks and Perry with a 100 MPH fastball), but neither would surpass Andrus or Reimold, much less Wieters, unless they became reliable closers.
Amongst the low innings rookie starters, Tampa Bay Rays' LHP David Price intrigues the most followed by fellow lefty, flame thrower Derek Holland in Texas. Until either puts together a string of starts that gets them looking better than Uehara, I will reserve further judgment. Just keep in mind; it is not easy to dominate as a rookie starter in these days of pitch counts and Verducci Effects.
Merry Wieters-mas Day!