Earlier, we took a shot at naming some Rookie of the Year candidates for the National League – now it’s the American League’s turn. Here are players that could win the award based on their first half performance to date.
Jose Iglesias: Iglesias doesn’t have a ton of power, but that’s just fine with the Red Sox. After all, it’s pretty hard to complain about a player with a .409 batting average that is second among all rookies in both leagues, behind only the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig. It’s not as if Iglesias has played in only a handful of games, either. As of this weekend, he’s appeared in 39 contests and has 132 at bats. With that high average, it’s no surprise Iglesias leads the league’s rookies with 54 hits. But he also leads those rookies in OPS and slugging percentage with nine doubles and a couple of triples playing a big part of that. Iglesias is also faring well defensively and has only two errors as a middle infielder. No, Iglesias isn’t likely to bat .400 over the course of the rest of the year, but he’s more than doing his part in Boston.
Oswaldo Arcia: The American League rookies haven’t produced as many offensive stars as their National League counterparts, but one player that’s standing out is the Minnesota Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia. Since coming up from the minors, Arcia leads all AL rookies in home runs (6) and RBI (24), and his .284 batting average is good for sixth. He’s almost here by default since there have been so few position players with jaw-dropping stats, though, so he’s hardly a lock to win the award.
Conor Gillaspie: Gillaspie has been one of the lone bright spots for the Chicago White Sox this season. He’s one of those guys who can be forgotten since he’s actually played in parts of four major league seasons since 2008. But Gillaspie is yet to reach the minimum at bat requirements so he’s still considered a rookie. Like others in the American League, the third baseman isn’t lighting the world on fire, but similar to Arcia and Hicks, he’s sticking out as one producing the most. Gillaspie leads all league rookies with 203 at bats and walks, and is second in hits, home runs, RBI.
Aaron Hicks: Also in the mix is one of Arcia’s Minnesota teammates, Aaron Hicks. The outfielder is tied with Arcia for the lead among AL rookies in home runs with six and leads them in runs with 24—just ahead of Iglesias. He’s also in the top three in RBI, walks, and stolen bases. That all makes him a contender, but Hicks’ biggest hurdle is a significant one – his abysmal .179 batting average. He has some other impressive numbers and that will keep him in the discussion, but unless he improves on the batting average, he won’t realistically compete for the award.
Justin Grimm: Just as the position players in the American League haven’t taken the world by storm, neither have the pitchers. My lone pitcher on the list, Justin Grimm, barely edged out his Texas Rangers’ teammate Nick Tepesch. Grimm is 7-5, but has a horrific 5.56 ERA. That, if nothing else, may keep him from being in contention for the award because Texas might not even be able to keep him in the rotation. He hasn’t given up fewer than three earned runs since the end of May. Still, he might be the best of the bunch. Tepesch has the top ERA among regular starters at 4.71, but Grimm leads all AL rookies in wins with seven and strikeouts (62). You can easily make the case for Tepesch instead of Grimm, but his 3-6 record is an issue.