MLB Rookie of the Year: Where Things Are Halfway
Of all the MLB awards, Rookie of the Year is perhaps the most difficult to predict. It is difficult to determine not only which young people will burst onto the scene, but also when they will be called upon. Minor League Baseball’s multi-year odyssey can be a winding journey that makes predicting MLB arrivals a guessing game, especially with the manipulation of duty time used by front offices at large. .
This makes our preseason picks seem somewhat misinformed in hindsight. A lot has changed over the next three months, so now is a great time to check out the run and see who the best freshman in baseball is. The first half of the season has not been short of rookies, with our two All-Star rookies, Trevor Rogers and Adolis García, perhaps in the lead to win some end-of-year gear.
But they will certainly have their work cut out for them to retain a talented field. Here are the contenders at the start of the second half.
5. RP Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland
Aside from Monday’s stoppage, Clase has been one of the most dominant relief pitchers in the league throughout the first half of the season. class The Statcast page is littered with red highlights, with a few pitchers matching his electric stuff. Its 100 mph cutter is the kind of terrain imagined while creating a player in MLB: the show, but it’s its slider that really saves money. Opposing hitters put up a lean 0.097 batting average with a 0.129 hitting percentage. So far, Clase has divided his duties more closely with James Karinchak and will likely continue to do so. Whether he’s shutting down or playing the role of a trainer, he’s one of the most valuable weapons at the end of the round.
4.SP Casey Mize, Tigers
Mize walked through the Detroit minor league system and had a rough start in 2020, posting a 6.99 ERA in seven starts. After two difficult outings in April, the 2018 No. 1 choice won. He’s 4-3 with a 3.06 ERA in his last 12 starts, keeping opposing hitters to a .217 / .289 / .348 slash line during that span. Mize induced balls to the ground at a rate of 50.8%, the 10th highest score among qualifying starters. The underlying metrics didn’t look quite as pretty – Mize has an expected ERA of 5.00 and an expected slugging percentage of 0.463 – but he’s as talented as any young arm in the game.
3. SP Luis García, Astros
While the Astros have been offensive this season, it was Houston’s rotation that was the key to the team’s success in the first half. And García has played a crucial role after a brief but impressive debut in 2020. After moving to full-time rotation in late April, García is 6-3 with a 3.17 ERA in 12 starts. He struck out 76 batters in 65 1/3 innings during that span, keeping opposing batters at a batting average of .216. García’s cutter and slider were particularly deadly, with opponents beating .121 and .132 respectively, against these offers.
2. FROM Randy Arozarena, Rays
Last year’s playoff hero didn’t quite set the world on fire in 2021 like he did last October. Still, the 26-year-old still had a solid year, leading all rookies in points scored (50) and second in goals stolen (11). He hit fastballs well this year (.322) but struggled powerfully against broken balls and low speed throws, sniffing over 40% of the time. Arozarena set the bar very high in the playoffs last year, batting .372 with 10 homers in 18 games. It may never be this hot again, but its first three months of 2021 shouldn’t be seen as a disappointment.
1. FROM Adolis García, Rangers
It’s hard to believe that less than five months ago, the Rangers nominated García for an assignment just before the start of spring training. Luckily for Texas, the 28-year-old has not been claimed and will now represent the franchise at the All-Star Game next week. García swings and misses a ton, but when he makes contact he does some serious damage. He ranks 10th among skilled hitters in barrels per plate appearance (10.0) and 27th in average exit speed (91.4 mph), punishing fastballs at a .324 clip. García’s bat has cooled down a bit over the past month, and his free-swinging ways could lead to trouble down the stretch, but he’s the prohibitive favorite at the moment.
Honorable mention: OF Akil Baddoo (Tigers), SP Cole Irvin (A’s), RP Michael Kopech (White Sox)
5. C Tyler Stephenson, Reds
Stephenson spent five seasons in the minor leagues making his way to the greats before a brief debut in 2020. He showed a supernatural feel for the strike zone, striking out just 17.6% of the time in his first 67. matches. Stevenson’s lack of power in the minors – he has scored just 0.390 with 28 home runs in 1,556 home plate appearances – might have been a minor cause for concern, but he has improved in that regard this season. He’s reduced to .272 / .376 / .428 with 18 more hits so far, looking a lot like the Cincinnati wide receiver of the future. Stevenson doesn’t have as many home plate appearances as the other hitters on this list, so he has a bit of catching up to do from a playing time standpoint. But if he continues to develop offensively, he does have some catching up to do with playing time. chance to become the fourth wide receiver in the past 30 years to win the Rookie of the Year award.
4.2B / SS Jazz Chisholm Jr., Marlins
Chisholm hasn’t been quite the same since returning from the hamstring injury that kept him from playing during the first half of May. Prior to the injury, he was one of April’s most electrifying players, hitting .290 / .375 / .551 with four homers and seven goals stolen in 21 games. Since his return on May 16, he has only hit .241 / .294 / .386 and has been caught stealing four times in seven attempts. Like many young hitters, Chisholm chases fastballs but struggles to break balls, hitting 0.298 against the first and 0.157 against the second. Despite hitting nearly 32% of the time, Chisholm is not a free trader, with a swing rate (45.8%) below the league average. He has the 18th highest called hitting rate (19.7%) among hitters with so many appearances at home plate, so maybe swinging the pitches more often in the zone will help him get some counts. favorable more frequently.
3.2B Jonathan India, Reds
India had one of the most successful college careers in recent memory – winning a national championship with Florida in 2017 before being named SEC Player of the Year in 2018 – before the Reds made him the fifth pick in the 2018 draft. He was the team’s starting second baseman on opening day, although he only played 34 Double A games in 2019 and had not known a season in the minor leagues last year. After somewhat slow April and May, India turned the tide over the past month, beating .304 / .435 / .455 with five goals stolen in 31 games since June 1. strike zone, and he walked at a 12.5% pace in his first three months as a big leaguer. That bodes well for a relatively high offensive floor, and his cap could rise if he unlocks as yet untapped power – he hit 0.717 with 21 homers in 68 games during his junior season with the Gators.
2. SP Ian Anderson, Braves
Like Arozarena, Anderson probably set expectations too high for himself after shining in the playoffs. He allowed just two runs with 24 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings in the Atlanta run to the NLCS after posting a 1.95 ERA in six regular season starts. When not compared to those results, Anderson’s “real” rookie season has been one of the few bright spots in what has been a tough season for the Braves. He’s still racking up balls on the ground at an impressive rate, and although his home run rate has nearly tripled from last season, he’s still among the leaders in the league in knocking out the long ball. Anderson’s change remains his bread and butter, ranking as the second most effective change in the game, behind Miami’s Sandy Alcantara.
1. SP Trevor Rogers, Marlins
As the pitcher’s best rookie starter this year by far, Rogers has a stranglehold on the prize after a great first half. He’s allowed no more than three points in his first 16 starts, looking refined beyond his years after struggling for his first big-league look in 2020. Rogers uses his change to play his midfield fastball. 90s with incredible efficiency, with a developing slider hitting 45% of the time. He has the third lowest home run rate (0.48 HR / 9) among qualified starters and would be in contention for the Cy Young Award without Jacob deGrom.
Honorable mention: 3B Patrick Wisdom (Cubs), OF Dylan Carlson (Cardinals), OF LaMonte Wade Jr. (Giants)
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