Amazingly, the 2013 MLB season is steamrolling along toward the halfway mark, setting the stage for July 31 trade-deadline acquisitions, Cinderella stories to strike midnight and new narratives to emerge over the next few months.
One of the major factors in how each team in the muddled pennant race fares over the next few months will be the performance of impact rookies, some of whom have been shining since Opening Day. Others just arrived but have the ability to change the outlook of the season.
Over the past two weeks, we've unveiled the leaders in the respective Rookie of the Year races, along with unveiling four names to note in the stock watch.
This week, let's take a look at two star outfielders who have burst onto the scene from the minute of their arrival, showing the ability to be future All-Stars. In fact, if some fans have their way, one will be at Citi Field for the 2013 All-Star Game in July, just a little over a month from the moment he arrived in the big leagues.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Within two weeks in the majors, Puigmania has overtaken the sport. The Dodgers outfielder plays with unbridled enthusiasm at a blistering speed and seems to make a difference in every single game.
Through the first 16 games of Puig's Dodgers stint, he's cranked six home runs with 12 RBI, 28 hits and a Bonds-like 1.267 OPS.
Listening to Vin Scully call Dodgers games is always a pleasure, but the past 16 games, including his takeover of the Dodgers Twitter account, have been extra fun due to the presence of Puig. Scully has reacted to, compared and touted Puig's talent and potential among all the great young stars the legendary broadcaster has seen during his time in the booth.
Of course, Puig won't hit .452 all season, but his five-tool ability is quickly shooting him up the stock watch for National League Rookie of the Year candidates.
Factoring in the stock-watch candidates from Weeks 10 and 11, here is how the NL Rookie of the Year race looks heading into play on Friday:
1. Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals
2. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers
3. Evan Gattis, C/OF, Braves
4. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, Dodgers
5. Didi Gregorius, SS, Diamondbacks
6. Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, Nationals
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
After over four years, 1,900-plus plate appearances and 78 home runs in the minor leagues, the Tampa Bay Rays called up Wil Myers to the big leagues this week, adding one of baseball's best prospects to their lineup and outfield.
The moment Myers arrived, his name was placed upon the AL Rookie of the Year stock watch. Meyers offers the Rays raw power and an upgrade against left-handed pitching. Because of his similar career minor league numbers to his new teammate, Evan Longoria, the 22-year-old outfielder is expected to contribute in a big way from the jump.
Although his first 17 at-bats have only provided three hits, much more is likely to come, potentially starting this weekend against the New York Yankees. In a park that sees lazy fly balls (especially to right field) become home runs, Myers could put on a show if his swing has caught up to the emotion of his arrival on the big stage.
Factoring in the stock-watch candidates from Weeks 10 and 11, here is how the AL Rookie of the Year race looks heading into play on Friday:
1. Dan Straily, RHP, Athletics
2. Nick Tepesch, RHP, Rangers
3. Jose Iglesias, SS/3B, Red Sox
4. Wil Myers, OF, Rays
5. Yan Gomes, C/1B, Indians
6. Preston Claiborne, RHP, Yankees
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