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Insider

Mike Trout finishes No. 1 on Player Rater

10/4/2012

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout had two hits in Wednesday's season finale, finishing with an incredible .326 batting average, 30 home runs, 129 runs scored and 49 stolen bases. He's the champ on ESPN's Player Rater, beating out Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera. Yes, Cabrera won the Triple Crown, but the steals separate Trout and Braun. Trout-Braun-Cabrera is precisely my early 1-2-3 for 2013.

Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw tossed eight innings of one-run ball Wednesday, striking out eight to earn his 14th win. Kershaw finished ninth on the Player Rater, and third among starting pitchers after the two pitchers I think will win the Cy Young Award in their respective leagues, R.A. Dickey and Justin Verlander. The case can be made for Kershaw as fantasy's top pitcher in 2013 drafts, as he finished behind Dickey and Verlander only due to a lack of wins. I'll go Verlander-Kershaw-Felix Hernandez.

Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Fernando Rodney notched his 48th save on Wednesday night, but in the bigger picture he was fantasy's top closer, edging out Atlanta Braves strikeout monster Craig Kimbrel. Rodney broke Dennis Eckersley's record (1990) for lowest ERA in a season (minimum 50 innings) at 0.60, an incredible and surprising feat considering Rodney's career ERA entering the season was 4.29. That said, my top three closers for 2013 won't include the previously volatile Rodney, but rather Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman and Jason Motte.

• Rays third baseman Evan Longoria smacked three home runs Wednesday, giving him 17 in an injury-riddled season. Longoria, the 13th overall pick (on average) in ESPN live drafts last spring, has played in only 207 games over the past two seasons. But he should remain a second-round choice, and second among third basemen (to the aforementioned Cabrera) in 2013 drafts.

• A youngster to watch is St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller. The Cards' 2009 first-round pick, Miller made his starting debut Wednesday a successful one, with six scoreless innings of one-hit baseball against the NL Central-champion Cincinnati Reds' regular lineup. Miller, 21, seems ready for stardom and inclusion in standard drafts next season.

• Wednesday's top pitching performance was delivered by Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow, as he fanned 11 Minnesota Twins over eight innings to earn his 10th win in 21 starts. Morrow, 28, missed two months with an oblique strain, but finished with career bests of a 2.96 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, while maintaining a strong strikeout rate. Morrow won't go among the top 20 starting pitchers next year, but he could easily finish there.

Thanks for reading Box Score Bits this season, and enjoy the playoffs!