Of all the postseason award races, the most stacked and most interesting is probably the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
Almost impressive as the names on this list are the names not on this list of front-runners, guys like Stephen Strasburg, Jonathon Niese, Tyler Colvin and Mike Stanton. You could add Ike Davis, Neil Walker and Jhoulys Chacin to that list, as well. And Mike Leake and Ian Desmond...
SS Starlin Castro
.317/.360/.438 3 HR 40 RBI -2.8 UZR/150 2.3 WAR
Castro had six RBI in his big-league debut on May 7 and has been nearly as impressive since. In fact, he's been better since the All-Star break, hitting .363/.388/.493 in the second-half of the season. Castro has a good bat and good speed, but needs to refine his game. He has eight stolen bases, but has been caught stealing six times. His glove has been erratic, but he has the raw tools to be very good. In short, his future seems brighter than the present, and that's saying something.
SP Jaime Garcia
St. Louis Cardinals
13-6 153 1/3 IP 2.35 ERA 61 BB 124 K 3.5 WAR
Although he's behind Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals' rotation, he has been just as good as either of those two. The left-hander, two years off of Tommy John, has been at his best even as his team has hit the skids. During the team's recent slide, losing 14 of 21 games, Garcia is 3-1 with a 0.67 ERA. In his lone loss during that run, his team let him down, allowing three unearned runs against the Brewers on Aug. 17. The only earned runs he's allowed in that time are the two he gave up in the series-opening 3-2 victory over the Reds on Friday.
OF Jason Heyward
.281/.389/.473 16 HR 65 RBI 3.1 UZR/150 3.7 WAR
In spring training, it was tough to find anyone who hadn't already awarded the Rookie of the Year to Heyward. It was easy to see why, he's big, strong, fast and has good plate discipline. In short, he's a can't-miss prospect. And he hasn't missed. Although, injuries have slowed him, he's still been nothing short of impressive.
C Buster Posey
San Francisco Giants
.328/.374/.506 11 HR 55 RBI -6.9 UZR/150 3.1 WAR
It took until May for the Giants to finally call Posey up to the big leagues and he quickly showed why people were calling for him to be on the roster since opening day. He took over the starting spot when the Giants traded Bengie Molina on July 1 and is expected to anchor the Giants' lineup for years to come. Since Molina was traded, Posey has hit .346/.400/.562. There are still questions whether he can be an elite defensive catcher, but his bat will carry him.
1B Gaby Sanchez
.284/.353/.467 16 HR 72 RBI -0.2 UZR/150 2.7 WAR
Not only can Sanchez swing the bat, he has a heck of a cross-check, taking out Nyjer Morgan in last week's brawl in Florida. While that may have been his most high-profile hit, Sanchez has plenty moret. He leads major league rookies in total bases (227), doubles (35) and RBI (72).
RP Jonny Venters
4-2 71 1/3 IP 1.77 ERA 32 BB 81 K 1.7 WAR
Venters won't get too many votes, but he's been fantastic for the Braves out of the bullpen this season. He leads all rookies with 65 appearances, 21 more than the next most-used rookie pitcher in the National League. With Billy Wagner retiring after this season, Venters could be the team's closer in 2011.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
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