While 2010 has been the year of the pitcher, it has also been the year of the rookie. The National League has a crowded field of players who could all win the Rookie of the Year Award in any other year. The American League has a good group of candidates as well.

According to the MLB.com written up on the AL awards race, the finalists are Neftali Feliz, Austin Jackson, and Wade Davis, all of whom had very good years. Other people in the running, according to them, are as follows, taken right from the article: “Brennan Boesch, OF, Tigers; Reid Brignac, IF, Rays; Jason Donald, SS, Indians; Brian Matusz, Orioles; Will Rhymes, 2B, Tigers; Chris Sale, LHP, White Sox; Sergio Santos, RHP, White Sox; Carlos Santana, C, Indians; Josh Tomlin, RHP, Indians.”

Notice anyone missing in that list? How about a guy who hit .311 in 85 games and helped bring an injury-riddled team to 95 wins and the playoffs? Seriously, you put a guy who played in 45 games (Rhymes) and a guy who played in 46 games (Santana) in a finalist list, but leave off an obvious top-five selection who will certainly get a few votes?

It would be like looking at the NL finalists and leaving off Jaime Garcia completely. Not necessarily the guy that will win it, but someone who’s played enough and played well enough that he will be considered.

Let’s look at what Valencia brings to the table, or the ballot, for that matter. His stats for the most part don’t show dominance, but his .311 average is impressive, as is his .351 on base percentage and .799 OPS, both of which beat out Austin Jackson. His 2.5 WAR is also among the top of his AL contemporaries.

Beyond that, Valencia’s been a decent fielder in an unappreciated and difficult position, third base. Still, even when discounting the offense and defense, the intangibles that he brought to the team helped get them moving. When Brendan Harris and Nick Punto were ineffective, Valencia went right in to the hot corner and solidified that position for the team.

Did he help lead the team when Justin Morneau got injured? No, I won’t go that far. Those honors go to Joe Mauer and Delmon Young. Could we say that though about Josh Tomlin, Chris Sale, or Reid Brignac? Of course not, they were role players at best. Could we say that about Feliz or Davis? No, the Rangers had other great bullpen pitchers and the Rays had other great starting pitchers.

I understand that he has his weaknesses as well. He only played 85 games, unlike the other frontrunners, who played throughout the season. He doesn’t have any eye-popping numbers either, like Feliz does with his rookie saves record.

So am I saying that Valencia should absolutely be Rookie of the Year? Not necessarily. It’s a tough choice between the top four, and one could make a good argument for any of them.

But to leave him out of the discussion entirely? That’s just embarrassing.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com