This week we’re taking a look at some of the top rookies in Major League Baseball in an attempt to ascertain who is the most deserving candidate for Rookie of the Year in both the American and National Leagues. Today, we’ll take a look at four position players in the American League (minimum 200 at-bats).
Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers
Andrus received a lot of hype early on in the season for his solid play, but that has quieted down a bit. The soon-to-be 21-year-old infielder had a slow June and July average-wise and the power he showed in May never reappeared. He hit two homers and had a total of eight extra-base hits that month, but has just six extra base hits since June 1 (157 at-bats). Overall, the youngster has a respectable line of .262/.326/.361 with 20 steals in 22 attempts. With Andrus, though, his defense must also be weighed heavily when discussing his value to the Rangers. He’s made 14 errors, but Andrus gets to balls no other shortstop can dream of reaching and his UZR of 7.8 is third in all of Major League Baseball behind Jack Wilson (Seattle/Pittsburgh) and J.J. Hardy (Milwaukee).
Gordon Beckham, 3B, Chicago White Sox
Beckham has not been in the Majors quite as long as the other three rookies, but he has arguably made the most noise over the past month. After a slow start (that oddly had some writers calling him a bust with a lousy swing), the infielder finished his first month in the Majors with a line of .267/.353/.387 in 75 at-bats. Since then, he’s been one of the club’s best hitters and now has an overall line of .302/.369/.483 with six homers in 205 at-bats. The 22-year-old also has 19 doubles, which is tops amongst rookies in the AL. Beckham also leads in average, on-base percentage, slugging and RBIs. He’s third in homers behind Reimold and teammate Jayson Nix. The former college and minor league shortstop has also been learning his new position on the fly at the hot corner.
Chris Getz, 2B, Chicago White Sox
A former fourth-round pick out of the University of Michigan, Getz just keeps plugging along. The middle infielder isn’t flashy but he’s put together a respectable first season in the Majors with a line of .268/.320/.368 in 310 at-bats. He has 18 steals in 20 attempts. Getz has also scored 43 runs. He doesn’t have much power (.100 ISO) but he has a healthy line drive rate at 19.7%. The 25-year-old has a solid strikeout rate at 13.9 K% but his walk rate is a little low at 6.1 BB%. Getz looks like a solid No. 2 hitter. He leads AL rookies in hits and is tied with Elvis Andrus in runs scored.
Nolan Reimold, LF, Baltimore Orioles
Reimold’s teammate (and the top prospect in baseball entering 2009) Matt Wieters is slowly picking up steam but he has yet to top 200 at-bats in the majors this season. As such, Reimold is currently the favorite amongst Baltimore’s rookies to win the AL Rookie of the Year. Reimold hit a few rough patches in the minors, which temporarily clouded his potential, but he entered pro ball with some hype as a second round draft pick out of Bowling Green University in 2005. The 25-year-old outfielder has a solid line of .272/.365/.444 with 10 homers in 239 at-bats. He also has an encouraging walk rate for a young player at 11.8 BB%, and a solid strikeout rate for a power-hitting prospect at 20.1 K%. Reimold leads rookies in the AL in homers, walks, and is second in RBI as well as OPS.
So, who do you think is most deserving amongst AL rookies for the year-end award? Will Wieters or another rookie hitter climb the charts in the final two months and steal the coveted title of best rookie hitter?
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some rookie pitchers in the American League.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.