Athlon Sports' 2011 AL Rookie of the Year

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Athlon editors cast their ballots for this year's best rookie in the American League

<p> Athlon editors cast their ballots for this year's best rookie in the American League</p>

With the World Series in the rear-view mirror and the hot stove just beginning to heat up, it's time to hand out some awards to this year's best performers on the diamond. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) will make their announcements starting Monday. And while no Athlon editors are members of the BBWAA, here's how four of us — Charlie Miller, Braden Gall, Patrick Snow and Mark Ross — would have voted if we did have a ballot to cast.

AL Rookie of the Year

The junior circuit certainly didn't lack for candidates when it came to this year's top rookie. The group of lending contenders consists of a trio of quality starting pitchers in the Tampa Bay Rays' Jeremy Hellickson, New York Yankees' Ivan Nova and Seattle Mariners' Michael Pineda, along with the Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer and the Los Angeles Angels' Mark Trumbo, both first basemen.

While this quintent is largely considered to be the frontrunners for the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year award in the AL, there are still plenty of other names that are worthy of consideration, names like Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley, Toronto Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia, Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings, Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie, Angels reliever Jordan Walden, and Oakland A's second baseman Jemile Weeks.

Contenders' Stats:

Jeremy Hellickson, P, Tampa Bay Rays: 13-10, 2.95 ERA, 189 IP, 72 BB, 117 K, 29 GS

Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals: 128 G, .293, 66 R, 27 2B, 19 HR, 78, RBI

Ivan Nova, P, New York Yankees: 16-4, 3.70 ERA, 165 1/3 IP, 57 BB, 98 K, 27 GS

Michael Pineda, P, Seattle Mariners: 9-10, 3.74 ERA, 171 IP, 55 BB, 173 K, 28 GS

Mark Trumbo, 1B, Los Angeles Angels: 149 G, .254, 65 R, 31 2B, 29 HR, 87 RBI

Athlon's Winner: Jeremy Hellickson, P, Tampa Bay Rays

Hellickson got three of the four first-place votes and one second-place vote, making him the winner and the only one to appear on all four ballots. Nova received the other first-place vote along with two votes for second. The other second-place vote went to Trumbo, which was the only ballot he appeared on. Hosmer received three votes for third with the other one going to Pineda.

Here's how the Athlon editors voted

Charlie Miller's ballot:

1. Ivan Nova
Nova won 16 of his 20 decisions and gave the Yankees’ rotation a badly needed lift.
2. Jeremy Hellickson
3. Eric Hosmer

Braden Gall's ballot:

1. Jeremy Hellickson
The Rays rookie led all Major League rookies in ERA (2.95), innings pitched (189.0), games started (29), quality starts (20) and opponents batting average. In fact, his .210 BAA is third in the majors behind only Justin Verlander (.192) and Clayton Kershaw (.207). It was the lowest qualified (162.0 IP minimum) AL rookie ERA since Kevin Appier’s 2.76 in 1990. Over his last eight starts – as the Rays surged into the postseason – Hellickson made seven quality starts allowing more than two runs only twice with a 2.30 ERA and a .195 BAA over that span. The last four of those starts came against Boston and New York.
2. Mark Trumbo
Filling rather large shoes after the loss of Kendrys Morales, Trumbo led all American League rookies in home runs (29), RBIs (87) and games played (149) by a fairly wide margin. Batting in the heart of the order for much of the season, Trumbo not only kept the Angels in the AL West race, but pushed his team to within 1.5 games (Sept. 10) of the eventual AL champion Texas Rangers. His 29 bombs were the most by a AL rookie since Nomar Garciaparra hit 30 for the Red Sox in 1997.
3. Michael Pineda
The Mariners' 6-foot-7, 260-pound hurler was the front-runner for the AL ROY award at the halfway mark, carrying a 2.65 ERA into July. He led all AL rookies in strikeouts (173), finished second in the AL with a 9.1 K/9 rate and was eighth in the AL with a very stingy 1.09 WHIP. When compared to other ROY candidates Jeremy Hellickson and Ivan Nova, Pineda had easily the least amount of support at 5.16 runs per game (Nova 8.82 No. 2 in AL, Hellickson 6.43 No. 19 in AL). Pineda was a 2011 All-Star having never played in a game prior to this season.

Patrick Snow's ballot:

1. Jeremy Hellickson
He had 13 wins compared to Nova’s 16, but the Rays’ righty wins out in every other category. Hellickson's 2.95 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and .210 opponent’s batting average were among the best in the AL. Nova had more wins with his supreme run support, but Hellickson had the overall better rookie campaign.
2. Ivan Nova
3. Eric Hosmer

Mark Ross' ballot:

1. Jeremy Hellickson
His numbers may not jump out, but he was consistent all season long going 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA over 189 innings pitched. He made 29 starts, 20 of them being quality starts and he held opponents to a .210 batting average, which was third in all of baseball behind only Cy Young contenders Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw. He got better as the season went on, going 5-3 with a 2.64 ERA after the All-Star break, including a 2-0 record with a 2.67 ERA in five September starts when the Rays made their late-season push for the AL Wild Card.
2. Ivan Nova
Outside of C.C. Sabathia, Nova was the Yankees’ most productive starter. He led all rookie pitchers with 16 wins and finished with a respectable 3.70 ERA. After a rough April (1-2, 5.82 ERA in five starts), Nova found his groove and settled in, going a perfect 8-0 with a 3.18 ERA after the All-Star break and winning his final 12 decisions overall.
3. Eric Hosmer
Hosmer made his debut in May and with the exception of a rough June, the 21-year-old showed Royals fans a glimpse of the type of middle-of-the-order production (.293, 66 R, 19 HR, 78 RBI in 128 games) they can look forward to from their first baseman for many years to come.

Other Baseball awards-related content:

National League Rookie of the Year

AL & NL Managers of the Year

American League Cy Young

National League Cy Young

American League MVP

National League MVP

Miscellaneous: 
MLB League: 

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