Welcome to the American League, land of dominating young pitchers. When people start talking about AL Rookie of the Year, there isn't a hitter in the discussion. And for good reason, the pitchers are just so damn good. Let's take a look around, but not limit ourselves to rookies, but players currently under age 25. You'll be amazed at how much young talent there is taking the mound in the junior circuit these days.
I'll break down the best by team...Baltimore
Chris Ray (24) - 1-2, 3.44 ERA, 20/21 saves, 34 innings, 23 hits, 14 walks, 32 KsBoston
none (sorry, but Papelbon is 25)New York
Scott Kazmir (22) - 10-5, 3.29 ERA, 109.1 innings, 101 hits, 40 walks, 118 KsChicago
none (sorry, Jenks is 25)Cleveland
none (sorry, Sabathia is 25)Detroit
Jeremy Bonderman (23) - 7-4, 3.65 ERA, 111 innings, 101 hits, 30 walks, 107 Ks
Zach Miner (24) - 5-1, 2.68 ERA, 37 innings, 35 hits, 10 walks, 23 Ks
Justin Verlander (23) - 10-4, 3.13 ERA, 103.2 innings, 94 hits, 31 walks, 65 Ks
Joel Zumaya (21) - 4-1, 2.20 ERA, 41 innings, 23 hits, 20 walks, 51 KsKansas City
Jimmy Gobble (24) - 2-1, 3.67 ERA, 41.2 innings, 36 hits, 13 walks, 35 KsMinnesota
Francisco Liriano (22) - 9-1, 1.99 ERA, 81.1 innings, 59 hits, 20 walks, 94 KsLos Angeles/Anaheim
Francisco Rodriguez (24) - 0-2, 3.09 ERA, 19/21 saves, 35 innings, 28 hits, 10 walks, 45 Ks
Ervin Santana (23) - 8-3, 3.92 ERA, 98.2 innings, 87 hits, 32 walks, 70 Ks
Jered Weaver (23) - 5-0, 1.35 ERA, 33.1 innings, 21 hits, 5 walks, 31 KsOakland
Rich Harden (24) - 3-0, 3.86 ERA, 35 innings, 24 hits, 18 walks, 34 Ks
Huston Street (22) - 1-3, 3.57 ERA, 18/24 saves, 35.1 innings, 26 hits, 8 walks, 32 KsSeattle
Felix Hernandez (20) - 8-8, 5.04 ERA, 103.2 innings, 113 hits, 31 walks, 98 KsTexas
If you were to look around the National League, you wouldn't find much at all. The Marlins have oodles of good young players, but that's about it. The big names Matt Cain and Cole Hamels are both sporting ERAs above 5.00 after having gotten hit hard a few times. But teams in the American League are just stockpiling young pitching talent right now and frankly I cannot recall anything similar in the past 10-20 years.
So how do they stack up? Here's my ranking of these pitchers and how I'd peg them for their career value right now:
1) Liriano - he's only 22 and is a legit Cy Young contender. The last time that happened? I'm not sure, but it's been a long time.
2) Bonderman - Seems like he's been around forever, but he's only 23 and keeps getting better year after year. Hard to go wrong with a powerful righthander that gets a lot of strikeouts and not a lot of walks.
3) Verlander - a 99 mph heater and a knee buckling curve will win him a lot of games over his career
4) Hernandez - he might be the king, but he's been knocked around a bit this year. Still, he's so young and has such good stuff that he will be just fine and I'm probably underrating him here.
5) Kazmir - I almost feel guilty putting such a great young lefty this low on the list. Honestly, you could probably take #2-5 and put them in any order and not be wrong and they really aren't that far behind Liriano.