Saturday, June 28, 2008

Don't Laugh; Aaron Laffey Among Top Rookies

While potential future superstars like the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw or the Reds Edison Volquez make a big splash, 23-year-old Indians lefty Aaron Laffey is quietly riding a heavy, 87-mph fastball and some well-thrown junk into the statistical stratosphere.

It's hard to imagine that the high-flying youngster can avoid what would seem to be an inevitable crash, but so far Laffey must be congratulated.

Among American League rookies, Laffey's 2.83 ERA is third best, as he and battery mate Kelly Shoppach's well-chosen sinkers, curveballs and changeups have induced opponents to ground into a number of seemingly easy outs. It doesn't hurt that the Indians defense has committed the fewest errors in the league to rank second with a .987 fielding percentage, while turning 91 double plays, third best.

Ironically, Laffey failed to impress during a brief introduction last year, with his relatively presentable 4.56 buying him nothing better than a ticket to Triple A Buffalo. But with injuries to Fausto Carmona and Jake Westbrook, Laffey has been able to make the most of his unexpected quick return to the majors.

While Laffey has been hit hard on the road, he has been untouchable at home, where his ERA stands at 1.39, helping him win an accolade as American League Rookie of the Month for May, as he turned in a 3-2 record with a microscopic 0.79 ERA. Over 34 innings, opponents batted .220 against him for the period.

Laffey's June mark stands at 2.87. He was 7-3 with a 3.28 ERA at Buffalo.