I'm tempted to just skip this one, as no one is worth of the honor. Not one NL rookie pitcher ranks in the league's top 40 in innings pitched. Here are the ERAs of everyone to have made at least seven starts:
Kenshin Kawakami - 4.63 ERA in 58 1/3 IP
Josh Geer - 5.44 ERA in 48 IP
Shairon Martis - 5.62 ERA in 57 2/3 IP
Jordan Zimmermann - 5.71 ERA in 52 IP
Felipe Paulino - 6.21 ERA in 42 IP
That's it. But it's no less impressive than the list of position players. Here's the top 10, according to VORP.
1. Joe Thurston - 7.3
2. Ryan Roberts - 7.3
3. Ryan Hanigan - 5.1
4. Edwin Maysonet - 4.9
5. Jason Jaramillo - 4.7
6. Micah Hoffpauir - 3.7
7. Dexter Fowler - 3.6
8. Drew Macias - 3.4
9. Colby Rasmus - 3.3
10. Tyler Greene - 2.9
That 7.3 figure puts Thurston 57th overall among NL position players. Seth Smith comes out a little higher at 7.8, but he doesn't technically qualify as a rookie after spending too much of last season on Colorado's bench.
Fowler does deserve additional credit for his defense, but he's been a well below average regular since his five-steal game made headlines in late April.
So, basically, the NL Rookie of the Year candidates through one-third of the season are mostly relievers.
The top pitchers, according to VORP.
1. J.A. Happ - 14.1
2. Randy Wells - 13.3
3. Mark DiFelice - 11.6
4. Ronald Belisario - 10.6
5. Juan Gutierrez - 9.0
6. Luke Gregerson - 8.2
7. Jason Motte - 7.2
8. Dan Meyer - 6.9
9. Bobby Parnell - 6.4
10. Jesse Chavez - 6.3
Ramon Troncoso is ineligible because of the time he spent in the majors last year.
I prefer Happ for the rest of the season, but I think Wells deserves the nod here, even if he's gone 0-2 while posting a 1.69 ERA in his five starts. He allowed three runs over seven innings in his worst outing to date, and it's hardly his fault that Kevin Gregg and Aaron Heilman keep letting him down.
First-third NL Rookie of the Year