Detroit Tigers rookie Rick Porcello prepares to fire a pitch during an interleague contest against the Chicago Cubs in June.

Detroit Tigers rookie Rick Porcello prepares to fire a pitch during an interleague contest against the Chicago Cubs in June.

Rick Porcello has had an excellent rookie season for the Detroit Tigers. He leads all American League (and MLB) rookie pitchers with 13 victories after outdueling Toronto rookie Ricky Romero and helping the Tigers earn a badly needed victory on Sunday. Detroit ended a five-game slide with their win over the Blue Jays.

His contributions have been invaluable this season and without him, the Tigers likely wouldn’t be leading the AL Central and in position to make the playoffs this late in the year. Porcello has made the kind of impact that Justin Verlander made for the Tigers in 2006 during his rookie season. Verlander was a valuable arm that helped the Tigers get the AL Wild Card and reach the World Series that year.

Looking around the Tigers rotation this season, Porcello has been one of three reliable arms. The other two spots in the rotation haven’t been great which is why Porcello has meant so much.  Armando Galarraga hasn’t been great, Dontrelle Willis couldn’t find the strike zone again when he had his opportunity. Luke French was decent before being traded to Seattle, but his replacement Jarrod Washburn hasn’t been great at all since being acquired by the Tigers in that deal.

Detroit rookie Rick Porcello is 13-8 with a 4.21 ERA in 27 starts this season for the Tigers. He leads all MLB rookie pitchers in victories. (Associated Press)

Detroit rookie Rick Porcello is 13-8 with a 4.21 ERA in 27 starts this season for the Tigers. He leads all MLB rookie pitchers in victories. (Associated Press)

All of that just highlights Porcello’s value. Other than a couple of bad starts in July, and a couple of short/rough outings against Boston and the New York Yankees earlier in the season, the rookie has been great.

Will all of his success equate to him being like Verlander and earning Rookie of the Year honors in the AL? That seems very iffy. Looking at numbers, Tampa Bay’s Jeff Niemann has the better figures. Romero’s numbers are very similar to Porcello, but there also have been some great rookie hitters in Texas’ Elvis Andrus and Chicago’s Gordon Beckham.

Here are the numbers of who I believe  are the leading candidates for AL Rookie of the Year

PORCELLO –  13-8, 4.21 ERA,  78 Ks, 45 BBs in 147 2/3 IP, 151 hits allowed

NIEMANN –  12-5, 3.57 ERA, 106 Ks, 50 BBs in 161 1/3 IP, 157 hits allowed

ROMERO – 12-8 , 4.22 ERA, 119 Ks, 68 BBs in 153 2/3 IP, 164 hits allowed

ANDRUS – .277 batting avg, 26 SBs, 33 RBIs, 14 2Bs, 8 3Bs, 6 HRs

BECKHAM – .279 batting avg., 53 RBIs, 25 2Bs, 1 3B, 11 HRs

There have been other solid rookies like Chicago’s Chris Getz, Baltimore’s Nolan Reimold and Tampa Bay’s David Price, but I think Porcello has probably been the most important to his team. Niemann has been valuable as well as Tampa Bay has been in the hunt for the wild card but is fading and Andrus has been up for Texas all year and has them still in contention for the postseason. Romero and Toronto aren’t going to the postseason, while Beckham and the Chi Sox still could theoretically catch the Tigers too.

It will be interesting to see who gets the nod in the AL for this award and my guess would probably be Niemann or Andrus get this award. But Porcello’s value to his team has been just as important if not more despite him not having the stats.

Advertisements