Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

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Arcia has shot to be Twins' sixth Rookie of Year

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: June 25, 2013 - 10:23 PM

Calvin Griffith's organization had two Rookies of the Year in its final three years in Washington. Both were outfielders: Albie Pearson in 1958 and Bob Allison in 1959. The franchise would move to Minnesota after the 1960 season and become the Twins.

Pearson never made the journey. He got off to a lousy start in 1960, batting .188 in the first 25 games, and was traded to Baltimore for Lenny Green, another center fielder. Green was a popular player for the Twins in their earliest seasons at Met Stadium.

The Twins have had five Rookies of the Year over their previous 52 seasons: Tony Oliva in 1964, Rod Carew in 1967, John Castino (in a tie with Toronto's Alfredo Griffin) in 1980, Chuck Knoblauch in 1991 and Marty Cordova in 1995.

The award can be based as much on the quality of a league's rookie crop as on the impact the winner has in his first full shot as a big-leaguer.

The Baseball Writers Association of America started voting for a Rookie of the Year in 1947. The honor covered  both leagues in its first two seasons -- Jackie Robinson of Brooklyn in 1947 and Alvin Dark of the Boston Braves in 1948. There has been a winner from each league since 1949.

Through 1979, two voters from each city with a team in the specific league had only one place on the ballot. Since 1980, votes for first, second and third have been mandated.

Oliva became the first American League hitter to win a batting title (.323) as a rookie in 1964. He received 19 of the 20 votes, with the other going to Wally Bunker. The Baltimore pitcher was a worthy contender with his 19-5 record.

Carew also came within one vote of unanimity in 1967, a season in which the 21-year-old second baseman made the jump from Class A and batted .292. He had 19 votes and the other went to Boston outfielder Reggie Smith.

The American League's rookie crop wasn't much in 1979. Third baseman Castino and shortstop Griffin had OK seasons and wound up with seven first-place votes apiece. The other six votes were divided among pitchers Mark Clear, Ross Baumgartner and Ron Davis (yup, our guy, then with the Yankees), and first baseman Pat Putnam.

To limit the possibility of future ties, the BBWAA went to three places on the ballot after Castino and Griffin shared the award.

Knoblauch was a clear winner in 1991 as the rookie second baseman on a team that would win the World Series. He received 26 of the 28 first-place votes, with one going to Toronto pitcher Juan Guzman and another to Detroit outfielder Milt Cuyler. The most-notable rookie to receive votes was catcher Pudge Rodriguez, who had played a half-season for Texas.

Marty Cordova beat an exceptional group of rookies in 1995: Angels outfielder Garret Anderson was a close second, and the next four were starter Andy Pettitte, reliever Troy Percival, outfielder Shawn Green and second baseman Ray Durham. Twins pitcher Brad Radke finished 10th.

Cordova had a terrific rookie year, batting .271 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI. He was very productive again in 1996, and then his career careened downhill.

In 1982, the Twins' Kent Hrbek had a tough draw when it came to rookies. He batted .301 with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs, yet received only four first-place votes and finished second. The other 24 first-place votes went to Baltimore's Cal Ripken Jr. And the third-place finisher that year was Boston's Wade Boggs, who batted .349 in 338 at-bats.

The Twins felt as it they could have a contender for a sixth Rookie of the Year award when this season opened. The candidate was Aaron Hicks, starting in center field and at the top of the order. Hicks had a miserable April, rallied to some degree, and now is on a rehab assignment with Class AAA Rochester.

Snother outfielder has emerged as the team's Rookie of the Year candidate. Oswaldo Arcia started the season in Rochester, came to Minnesota early, went back to Rochester, and now has played 12 games for the Twins in June. He's 13 for 42 (.310) with five doubles, two home runs and seven RBI in that time. Overall, he's at .271 with six home runs and 21 RBI.

These aren't exactly the stats of last year's Rookies of the Year, Anaheim's Mike Trout and Washington's Bryce Harper, but they have come in 140 at-bats. Presuming good health, Arcia should be the lineup full-time to the finish of the schedule. That projects to another 350 at-bats, with totals of 21 home runs and 73 RBI.

Those numbers would make Arcia an easy winner in what is a weak rookie crop in the American League. The pitchers are undistinguished. Connor Gillaspie is doing OK as Chicago's third baseman, but I anticipate Arcia passing him in production in the second half. The one player who does impress me as a challenger to Arcia is Seattle second baseman Nick Franklin.

From here, it looks like Arcia's award to win, as long as he keeps laying off the bad pitches and taking those robust hacks at the strikes.






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