The 'All-Rookie' All-Star team
So if we cobbled together a first-half All-Star team consisting solely of rookies, what would such a team look like?
As part of the run-up to the actual All-Star Game in Kansas City Royals , we've been running down various ad-hoc All-Star teams to get you in the proper frame of mind. And this time, we're naming an "All-Rookie" squad. Since digging up worthy rookies at every position is a bit of challenge, we're throwing AL and NL rooks together in one heap and choosing the very best of them.
Necessary reminder: A player loses his rookie status once he exceeds 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched or spends more than 45 days on the 25-man roster. So if one of your cherished youngsters is not on this list, then it's probably because he surpassed those limits in a previous year.
Coors Field is still Coors Field, but Rosario's .527 SLG is pretty solid by the standards of rookie catchers.
1B - Matt Carpenter , St. Louis Cardinals
By season's end, this spot will almost certainly belong to Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs , but Rizzo's tardy promotion means the honor falls to Carpenter for the time being. Besideseeing action at five different positions this season, Carpenter's also hitting .292/.367/.500.
2B - Steve Lombardozzi, Washington Nationals
It's a thin field for rookie second basemen (note that Jason Kipnis and Jose Altuve exhausted their rookie statuses last season), so Lombardozzi it is. Indeed, he's more of a "super sub" who's spent more time in the outfield than at second, but the other choice is … Freddy Galvis? Moving on.
SS - Zack Cozart , Cincinnati Reds
Cozart's OPS of .708 is passable enough for a shortstop, and he's played in 79 of 83 games this season. He gets points for stabilizing a critical position on a contending team.
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3B - Will Middlebrooks , Boston Red Sox
The Reds' Todd Frazier certainly merits a mention, but the nod goes to Middlebrooks, who's hitting .298/.335/.538 in 48 games. That's similar to Frazier's level of production, but strength of schedule separates them.
LF - Yoenis Cespedes , A's
The hard-hitting Cuban is slugging a healthy .472 on the season, and he's been especially productive since returning from injury.
CF - Mike Trout , Los Angeles Angels
Trout had his rookie status upheld over the winter, so that makes him an indisputable choice. Despite not being recalled until late April, Trout leads the AL in thefts, and he also leads the AL in OPS+. In related news, he's a certifiable MVP candidate. Will his 2012 go down as one of the great rookie campaigns of all-time? It's certainly looking that way.
RF - Bryce Harper , Nationals
The 19-year-old wunderkind has dazzled thus far in the field and at the plate. On the season, he's hitting .283/.357/.479 with 27 extra-base hits and eight steals in 61 games.
SP1 - Yu Darvish , Texas Rangers
Darvish's ERA of 3.59 looks even better when you consider he's pitched the majority of his innings at hitter-friendly Arlington. He ranks third in the AL with 117 strikeouts.
SP2 - Wade Miley , Arizona Diamondbacks
Some of the shine has come off Miley in recent starts, but overall his rookie dossier remains impressive: 100.2 innings, 3.04 ERA, 3.33 K/BB ratio.
Setup man - Robbie Ross , Rangers
Ross, 23, has notched a stellar ERA of 0.99, but he's also worked 45.1 innings, which puts him on pace for a hefty total of 87.1 this season. He's been one of the most valuable setup men in all of baseball.
Closer - Ryan Cook , A's
Rookie closers are an exceedingly rare breed, but Cook has ascended to the role in Oakland Athletics and thrived. In 37 innings this season, he boasts a 1.46 ERA, and he's yet to allow a home run or unearned run.