Monday, March 7, 2016

Twins Trio Tops AL Rookie of the Year Candidates

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Well, baseball fans think it is the most wonderful time of the year because spring training workouts are in full swing, games are being played, and the first regular season action is right around the corner. With the beginning of the season, there comes a lot of prognostication as writers from across the baseball world attempt to select the division winners, award winners, and breakout players.

Selecting rookie of the year candidates can be a tough accomplishment at this point in the season. Some teams might keep players in the minor leagues until later in the season to gain more team control. Other rookies might go back and forth between the high levels of the minors and the 25-man roster.

By many accounts, Minnesota could have three players in the running for the top rookie player in the American League. Miguel Sano was a finalist for the award last season but finished in a distant third place. Each of the following players will be attempting to be the first Twin to take home the hardware since Marty Cordova in 1995.
Kim Klement- USA Today Sports
Jose Berrios
Why He Should Win
Berrios has been slowly creeping up national prospect lists as he has dominated the upper levels of the minor leagues over the last two seasons. Last year, he led the minors in strikeouts and many Twins fans were clamoring to see him debut while the team was still in postseason contention. Many eyes will be on him as he makes his debut so this could set-up for him to shine while being in the spotlight. Combine his outstanding control with a tenacious work ethic and there's a recipe for a breakout star waiting to happen.

Why He Won't Win
There's little chance he will start the year in the Twins rotation. Other players like Tyler Duffy, Tommy Milone, Trevor May, or even Ricky Nolasco could get a shot to start before Berrios. He's also not on the 25-man roster at this point so the Twins would need to make room for him before his debut. Minnesota will keep him in the minors until at least June to avoid the Super-2 deadline and pick up an extra year of arbitration. Also, his innings have been limited in the past but the Twins have already said that he won't be limited this season.

Byron Buxton
Why He Should Win
Buxton's name is well known in baseball circles as he has been considered one of baseball's top prospects since being drafted by the Twins. If he's able to show some offensive improvements, there's no doubt that the other parts of his overall game would carry him to this award. He has the potential to be a base running threat and to be one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game. If his name is on the ballot, there's a good chance that the national writers will strongly consider him for the honor on name recognition alone.

Why He Won't Win
His offensive skills didn't shine through during his first taste of the big leagues and his playing time was inconsistent since the Twins were in the thick of the playoff race. There's also a chance that Minnesota could start Buxton at Rochester to let him build some confidence to start the season. If he struggles again on the offensive side of the ball, it would be a challenge for him to earn this award. The name recognition is there but he would need to be capable with the bat in order to be considered one of the three finalists.

Byung Ho Park
Why He Should Win
The Twins are going to want to give their new internationally signee as many opportunities as possible to be successful. This could mean the team will continue to play him even if he struggles. The Pirates Jung Ho Kang finished third in last year's National League Rookie of the Year balloting so the voters have recently considered a Korean for the top rookie honor. Park has shown tremendous power potential in Korea and the Twins hope he can translate that to the big league level. If he is putting up solid power numbers and playing on a consistent basis, he should be in the discussion by season's end.

Why He Won't Win
Transitioning from Korea to America can be a tough endeavor. There's a cultural and language barrier plus the level of competition jumps up significantly. Since the beginning of 2014, Park averaged over 150 strikeouts per season so he has struck out in over 30% of his at-bats. If that trend continues or if he raises those marks, it might be hard for voters to take him seriously. Minnesota could use Park in a platoon with Oswaldo Arcia and that would also cut back on the number of at-bats he receives.

Who do you think has the best shot at winning the award? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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