ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 15: Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers reacts to closing out the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on June 15, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
The three finalists for AL Rookie of the Year were announced on Wednesday by the Baseball Writers Association of America, and Texas pitcher Yu Darvish was one of three. But this year, the race is for second place.
A look at the candidates, in order of predicted finish by yours truly...
1. Mike Trout, OF, LAA — This is the biggest slam dunk in quite some time. Trout was unreal this year, and is possibly the best rookie in MLB history. He hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBIs and had a .399 on-base percentage as the Angels' leadoff hitter. Oh, and he was a great centerfielder and stole 49 bases — all of that despite missing the first month of the season because the Angels had him in the minor leagues in favor of Vernon Wells? Go figure.
2. Yu Darvish, RHP, TEX — Darvish had his ups and downs while adjusting to Major League Baseball after years of dominating Japanese baseball, but once he figured out, boy was he good. Darvish finished the season on a roll and was unquestionably the Rangers' best pitcher down the stretch. He finished with a 16-9 record, a 3.90 ERA and 221 strikeouts. He was plagued by walks for the first half of the season but then figured things out and walked two or fewer batters in his final eight starts, including the AL Wild Card Game, when he was inexplicably pulled after just 91 pitches.
3. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, OAK — Another import, the Cuban outfielder burst on to the scene in 2012 for the surprising Athletics and gave the AL West a tremendous trio of rookies this past season. Cespedes was the heartbeat of the A's and gave them a legitimate bat in the middle of their order that other guys could rally around. He hit .292 with 23 home runs and 82 RBIs and showed the ability to run with 16 steals and five triples.