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NL Rookie of the Year Watch: Jose Fernandez, clubhouse leader

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

Will Jose Fernandez win RoY honors? (USATSI)
Will Jose Fernandez win RoY honors? (USATSI)

Awards Watch: NL MVP | AL MVP | NL Cy Young | AL Cy Young

Our Awards Watch series marches on this week, and this time out we're taking a look at how the race for NL Rookie of the Year is shaping up as we enter the final days of the 2013 regular season.

As a reminder, these are predictions of who will win based on the season to date and not statements of who deserves to win ...

Front-runner

Jose Fernandez, Marlins: Since Fernandez has been shut down for the balance of the season, his dossier is complete: 12-6, 2.19 ERA, 179 ERA+, 172 2/3 IP, 187 K, 53 unintentional walks, 111 H, 27.5 K%. As already noted in this very space, Fernandez's 2013 season stands as one of the great rookie pitching seasons ever. So he'd obviously be a most worthy Rookie of the Year. I'd give him the modest edge with the voters at this point, but there's still time for the other prime contender to tilt the scales.

Hot on his heels

Yasiel Puig, Dodgers: At present, Puig is batting .336/.404/.553 with 17 homers in 94 games, and he's also contributed more than his share of highlight-reel defensive plays. If you go strictly by WAR, then Puig is trailing Fernandez by a tally of 6.5 to 4.9. I doubt RoY voters will give that much consideration, but they will notice that Fernandez has logged a qualifying number of innings while Puig, with 396 plate appearances and counting, won't reach qualifier status. As great as Puig has been, the relative lack of playing time will hurt him, even considering Fernandez's shutdown. I expect a tight vote, but I give the edge to Fernandez at the moment. Of course, Puig's still playing and Fernandez isn't, which gives the former time and opportunity to make up ground.

Battle for third place

Shelby Miller, Cardinals: This season, the 22-year-old Miller has pitched to a 3.01 ERA and 3.12 K/BB ratio to go with 162 whiffs in 161 1/3 innings. Those are strong numbers, but Fernandez's are better.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers: Among Ryu's merits are a 117 ERA+, 181 innings of work and a respectable .204/.232/.296 line at the plate.

Julio Teheran, Braves: Teheran's fared nicely for the Braves this season: 3.14 ERA across 28 starts, 3.56 K/BB ratio. Again, though, Fernandez fairly well towers over his rookie pitching peers.

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