In another season, the New York Mets' Ike Davis would generate more attention. He's a rookie excelling in New York, the hype capital of the world. In another season that would mean being out front for the National League Rookie of the Year race.
Too bad this isn't another season.
He doesn't crack our list. Not yet anyway.
As baseball resumes a full schedule of games, here's how we handicap the race (the only one the Nationals will participate in):
Jason Heyward, Braves » He slowed down after a torrid start and is batting .251 with 11 homers and 45 RBI for Atlanta. But here's the scary thing: He could have a better second half. The right fielder landed on the disabled list June 27 because of a sore thumb. He had eight homers before hurting it May 14 (with his average dropping 50 points entering Thursday). If healthy -- and if the Braves continue to play well -- he'll finish first.
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals » The amazing thing about the Nats pitcher, among other traits, is that when he pitches poorly he still doesn't get lit up. He'll be hurt in this race because he didn't come up until June and likely will be shut down in early September. Still, he's 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA entering his start Friday, and if he gets to double-digit victories with a sub-3.00 ERA, he'll be tough to ignore.
Buster Posey, Giants » San Francisco couldn't afford to wait any longer for him to develop as a catcher. His bat is too lethal. So the Giants brought him up on May 29, splitting his time between first and catcher, and in 38 games he's batting .350 with seven homers and 25 RBI -- and owns a staggering .959 OPS. With Heyward's injury and Strasburg's pitch limit, Posey is well-positioned to sneak to the top.
Mike Leake, Reds » Strasburg's former youth league teammate was 4-0 through May (and posted a 1.88 ERA that month). But in his last six starts, Leake has allowed at least five runs four times. He's still a respectable 6-1 with a 3.53 ERA. He's not as dominant as Strasburg, who has nine fewer strikeouts than Leake in 67 fewer innings.