There is no harder paintball test than the professional division of the PSP. The five players who are nominated for Rookie of the Year each deserve praise and recognition for their stellar standout efforts during the 2012 season.
But only one will be awarded the honor, and this is where you come in– you, the fans, will decide who will be the first ever PSP/PBA Rookie of the Year. We will open up the voting this Wednesday, and leading up to that moment will be profiling the nominees.
Each of the 5 players PBA has nominated could make a claim for this distinction, but it is up you to decided who made the biggest rookie splash in the PSP Pro Division in 2012. Each has a different story, but they all made big impacts with their squads and were huge contributors.
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Alex Rodriguez- Los Angeles Ironmen
The 2nd nominee for 2012 PSP/PBA Rookie of the Year is 21-year-old Alex Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Ironmen. Rodriguez, from Arizona but now living in Long Beach, was ranked 6th overall for the year, an amazing achievement for any player, let alone one who just finished his first year of Big League paintball.
Lang, Fedorov, Greenspan, Goldman, Rabackoff– legendary names and legitimately so, but Rodriguez beat out all of them in the overall player rankings this season.
He was the highest ranked player on a team stacked with young talent. For example, Tok Hamil was also a force for the Ironmen but, though he had some great points and made a name for himself with aggressive play as the first attacker in the snake, he was inconsistent and finished 71st in the overall standings.
Rodriguez stood out amongst the other first-year players on the Ironmen because, unlike the rest of the rookies, he was much more consistent on Sunday, and inconsistency on Sunday, in the later rounds of the tournaments, was the Achilles heel of the Ironmen in 2012.
Rodriguez should be on everyone’s short list of favorites in win this honor, not only because of his excellent performance, but because of the fact he’s the highest ranked rookie player who hasn’t already played pro paintball in another league. Jason Wheeler, from Moscow Red Legion, was ranked one slot higher than Rodriguez, but Wheeler has grinded in the European Professional league since 2008.
But ultimately, despite what we at PBA think, the question “Who is the best Rookie” is up to you, the fans, to decide.
The Wrecking Crew, a local divisional team from Southern California, was the last team Rodriguez played for before moving up to the pro division. Eric Humphries was another great young player who came out of this program, but he finished 26th overall. It should come as no surprise to learn the Wrecking Crew has been one of the Ironmen’s practice teams for years.
When all the candidates are made public, you will notice we could use the word “explosive” to describe their playing style is some way. Alex is no exception, though many times he starts in the back center, and has played the Mid/insert position, or the “2”, on both sides of the field. Versatility and gunfighting ability are greatest attributes.
Kevin Bredthauer, head coach of the Ironmen when asked about Rodriguez said, “Alex quickly became one of my go-to guys. More often than not, that kid would do what needed to be done to support our front guys up in the trenches, and find a way to close out points. I don’t like to compare players, but he reminds me of a young Chris Lasoya.”
One knock against Alex is that he didn’t get as much playing time as the other Rookie of the Year candidates, with only 99 points played, just over 40% of the Ironmen’s total points played. Wheeler, who was ranked 6th overall, was the second lowest in this category with 122 points played.
Regardless, it was still enough spins for Rodriguez to make his name resonate with the best players in the world.
Stay tuned for the other three Rookie of the Year candidates coming this week, only on Paintball Access.
Also, check out the first Rookie of the year candidate Jason Wheeler here.
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