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oldschooler

NL Rookie of the Year Watch

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Next up in our series examining where things stand with potential individual award winners is the National League Rookie of the Year race. From where I sit, it seems to be a two-horse race right now, but there's potential for some future stars to climb into the thick of things.

[u][b]FRONTRUNNERS[/b][/u]

[b]1. [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/players/playerpage/1630078/todd-frazier"]Todd Frazier[/url], [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/teams/page/CIN/cincinnati-reds"]Reds[/url][/b]

He's been good all season, but Frazier's stock has greatly risen as he's filled in for the injured Joey Votto at first base. He'll gain traction with the voters for that and for the Reds being in first place. The numbers are there, too, as he is hitting .280/.338/.524 with 14 homers, 48 RBI, 34 runs, 18 doubles and five triples.

[b]2. [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/players/playerpage/1716842/wade-miley"]Wade Miley[/url], [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/teams/page/ARI/arizona-diamondbacks"]Diamondbacks[/url][/b]

The All-Star lefty is trending downward, which is one of the reasons Frazier is above him at this point. In his last eight starts, he's 3-5 with a 4.63 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. Still, overall Miley is 12-8 with a 3.02 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 99 strikeouts in 137 innings. The best part is he was a surprising call over Trevor Bauer, but Miley has fared better than he ever really did in the minors, save for a 13-start stretch in Double-A in 2010.

[u][b]ALSO IN THE MIX[/b][/u]

None

[u][b]DON'T FORGET ABOUT[/b][/u]

[b]3. [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/players/playerpage/1765813/bryce-harper"]Bryce Harper[/url], [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/teams/page/WAS/washington-nationals"]Nationals[/url][/b]

Earlier in the season, he would have been a frontrunner. At this point, surely the argument by many will be that he should be lower. Here's why he's not: His potential. This award is a two-man race at this point, as I said above, but Harper has logged enough counting stats and has the ability to get his rate stats to the point where a big piece on the National League's best team takes Rookie of the Year. Obviously there's potential to fall off the radar, too. We'll see.

[b]4. [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/players/playerpage/1740929/mike-fiers"]Mike Fiers[/url], [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/teams/page/MIL/milwaukee-brewers"]Brewers[/url][/b]

Two things prevent Fiers from being listed with the frontrunners or as an "also in the mix" guy. First of all, he's only made 13 starts and accrued 82 innings. Secondly, his once-pristine numbers were badly harmed in [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/teams/page/COL/colorado-rockies"]Colorado[/url] Monday night. He's currently at 6-5 with a 2.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 81 strikeouts in 82 innings. Assuming Fiers keeps -- well, "returns to" may be more accurate -- pitching well, his workload and numbers will be enough to warrant consideration and he'll jump up at least one category here.

[b]5. [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/players/playerpage/1669641/zack-cozart"]Zack Cozart[/url], Reds[/b]

Despite his on-base woes, Cozart deserves plenty of credit for his power and solid defensive ability. And, much like with Frazier, playing for a winning team should curry favor with the voters.

[b]6. [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/players/playerpage/1937143/norichika-aoki"]Norichika Aoki[/url], Brewers[/b]

He entered the season as a fourth outfielder, but the season-ending injury to Mat Gamel moved [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/players/playerpage/448407/corey-hart"]Corey Hart[/url] to first base and Aoki has taken advantage of his opportunities. I don't expect him to climb any higher on the list, but he deserves to be here.

[b]7. [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/players/playerpage/1794765/matt-carpenter"]Matt Carpenter[/url], [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/teams/page/STL/st-louis-cardinals"]Cardinals[/url][/b]

He has very solid numbers, but the Cardinals are so offensively stacked he won't receive enough regular at-bats to crawl up this chart without some injuries to his teammates.

[b]8. [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/players/playerpage/1670417/anthony-rizzo"]Anthony Rizzo[/url], [url="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/teams/page/CHC/chicago-cubs"]Cubs[/url][/b]

In this group of eight, it's entirely possible Rizzo is the best player right now. There's also a good chance he'll be the best player in this group the rest of the way. The problem is he's only going to end up with about a half-season in the bigs. His numbers would likely have to explode from their already-impressive levels for him to win with essentially half the playing time of Frazier and others, but I'm not prepared to leave Rizzo off this list. He merits watching.







http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/eye-on-baseball/19800525/nl-rookie-of-the-year-watch

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