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Teammates and a pair of first basemen highlight rookie ballots

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor


Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Baseball Writers' Association of America will hand out their first two postseason awards on Monday, as the American and National League Rookies of the Year will be announced.

It appears to be a two-man race in each league, as Atlanta teammates Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman are the clear cut front runners in the NL, while Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim first baseman Mark Trumbo highlight a deeper AL ballot.

Kimbrel put forth the best first year ever by a closer, as he set a rookie record with 46 saves and recorded 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. He limited opponents to a .178 batting average and recorded 14.84 strikeouts per nine innings, joining Carlos Marmol (2010), Eric Gagne ('03) and Billy Wagner (1998 and '99) as the only pitchers to post at least 14 strikeouts per nine innings and notch at least 30 saves in the same season.

However, one thing that could hurt him is the fact that he blew three of his last six save opportunities, including one on the final day of the season that could have put his Braves into the postseason.

Should that be a deciding factor then the award will likely fall to Freeman, who was the most consistent hitter for the Braves this season. The 21-year-old batted .282 with 21 homers and a .795 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

Freeman led NL rookies in batting average, hits (161), doubles (32), homers, RBI (76), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging percentage (.448).
Eric Hosmer
Eric Hosmer came up in early May and immediately
made an impact.


Either way the award figures to go to a Braves rookie for the first time since Rafael Furcal in 2000.

Others who figure to be in the mix include Phillies right-handed pitcher Vance Worley, Braves righty Brandon Beachy and Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa

Over in the American League it's almost as sure with Hosmer and Trumbo leading the pack, although a trio of starting pitchers could have a say as well.

Hosmer came up in early May and immediately made an impact. He swatted 19 home runs while driving in 78 runs and finishing first among AL rookies in runs (66) and hits (153). He also collected 27 doubles, making him the 27th player in history to hit at least 17 home runs and 24 doubles at the age of 21. Not to mention his .293 average was nearly 40 points better than Trumbo's.

Trumbo, who was the Sporting News' choice for top rookie, burst on the scene after six years in the minors and belted 29 home runs with 87 RBI. He only batted .254, but his home-run total was the highest by an AL rookie since Nomar Garciaparra hit 30 for the Red Sox in 1997.

His 149 games played were also most among all AL rookies,

If offense isn't your thing there are certainly a few pitchers to choose from, as righties Jeremy Hellickson from Tampa, New York's Ivan Nova and Seattle's Michael Pineda all figure to get some votes.

Hellickson was the AL's top rookie as chosen by Baseball America after going 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA in 29 starts. Nova won 16 games and pitched to a 3.70 ERA for the Yankees despite a stint in the minors and won his final 12 decisions, which included an eight-game winning streak. Pineda, meanwhile, was an All-Star and ended the year with a 3.74 ERA, but seemed to run out of steam in the second half.

THE SPORTS NETWORK PICK: NL ROOKIE - CRAIG KIMBREL, ATLANTA BRAVES

AL ROOKIE - ERIC HOSMER, KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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