Rookie of the Year Race for NL Has Clear Favorite
Many different teams saw young players get called up in 2019. There were a fair share of impressive performances and even a heated rivalry between two rookies. Additionally, some rookies led their teams in a few different categories and even broke some team records. The field for the NL Rookie of the Year is now narrowed down to three finalists: Pete Alonso, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Mike Soroka.
Pete Alonso, NYM
Alonso was impressive from the moment he stepped on the field this year. He won NL Rookie of the Month for April (which sparked a feud with Padres rookie pitcher Chris Paddack), as well as in June and September. Alonso set franchise records this year in home runs and total bases. His 53 home runs led the Majors and also set a new Major League record for home runs by a rookie. His 5.0 bWAR was tied with Jeff McNeil for the best on the Mets this year, and led all rookie position players.
Alonso’s impressive season earned himself a trip to the All Star Game and Home Run Derby. He became the first NL rookie to win a Home Run Derby. Additionally, he became a fan favorite for off-the-field antics and his “Polar Bear” nickname. Not only has he put himself in a great position for Rookie of the Year, but Alonso will also likely receive some MVP votes.
Fernando Tatis Jr., SD
The son of former big leaguer Fernando Tatis, Tatis Jr. entered this year as one of the game’s top prospects. He did nothing but impress in his first season, hitting .317/.379/.590 (152 OPS+) with 22 homers and 16 stolen bases. While his defense at shortstop wasn’t stellar (-2 DRS) and he struck out 110 times in 372 plate appearances (29.6% strikeout rate), Tatis put up a strong 4.3 bWAR. Unfortunately, Tatis’ injuries limited him to just 84 games, which likely hampered his chances of winning the award.
Mike Soroka, ATL
Soroka had a brief cup of coffee in the Majors in 2018, but his season was cut short due to injuries. This year though, Soroka emerged as the best pitcher in a young Braves rotation. He posted a 13-4 record with a 2.68 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 142 strikeouts in 174.2 innings pitched (7.3 K/9). His performance earned himself a selection to the All Star Game. In a year in which home runs were at an all-time high, Soroka only allowed 14 homers. His 0.7 HR/9 was the lowest home run rate in the league. His ability to keep the ball in the park is well documented by his 1.08 ground ball to fly ball ratio. Soroka’s impressive season could also net him some NL Cy Young votes.
The Overtime Heroics writers had very little trouble deciding who should win the NL Rookie of the Year. All but one writer voted for Pete Alonso to win the award. The Polar Bear broke a major league record and led baseball in home runs. For OTH, Alonso is a slam-dunk to win the award.
Author Twitter: @maktheknife2000
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