Sunday, September 04, 2005

By the time I get through ranking the four categories of rookies, it will be necessary to revisit my first list. But still, here goes with the AL pitchers...

1. Huston Street, Oakland (RP): This category could actually be broken down into two separate categories (relievers and starters), but Oakland's new closer ranks ahead of all of them. His sub-1.00 WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched), 63 K in 66.2 IP, 1.23 ERA, and 18 Saves stand out among all rookie pitchers. Obviously, there aren't any other closers who are rookies, but the fact that he leads all AL closers in ERA is quite impressive, and his numbers clearly shine above the rookie starters who are currently turning in very solid debuts. His four blown saves result in a fairly unimpressive save rate of 81.8%, but two of these occurred before he became the closer, and actually should be classified as blown holds.

2. Gustavo Chacin, Toronto (SP): Chacin has been the most impressive among rookie starters, although a rough August has really hurt his candidacy. Overall, he's tied for first among AL rookies in wins at 11-8, second in ERA (3.73), and first in innings pitched (166.1).

3. Chris Young, Texas (SP): Joe Blanton gets more attention, but Young is quietly 11-7 with a 4.22 ERA, playing home games in a hitter's ballpark (although his road ERA is actually only marginally better than at home). He's also second to Scott Kazmir among AL rookies in strikeouts, with 131 in 153.2 IP.

4. Andrew Sisco, Kansas City (RP): Cisco has been one of the few bright spots on the worst team in the AL. He's turned in a strong season as Mike MacDougal's most reliable setup man, with 12 holds (for a team who's only won 43 games), a 2.58 ERA, .226 opponents' batting average, and 68 K in 66.1 IP. His control is his one shortcoming (37 BB), but he's certainly shown promise.

5. Joe Blanton, Oakland (SP): Blanton may have the most promise of all the rookie starters here, but, his 8-10 record is less than impressive. He's had two great months (5-1, 2.06 in June; 3-1, 1.07 in August), and has the top ERA among AL rookies (3.54). However, he needs to continue his strong August performance into September, and finish with at least 12 wins to have a chance.

6. Jesse Crain, Minnesota (RP): Crain has done a solid job in a setup role for Joe Nathan (9-4, 2.51, 11 holds), but the fact that he's walked more batters than he's struck out (26 to 22) is a major shortcoming. Nevertheless, he warrants a mention on this list.