MLB Awards: Will Mets phenom Pete Alonso slug his way to NL Rookie of the Year honors?
Who is most worthy of the National League Rookie of the Year Award?
There is less than three weeks remaining in the 2019 regular season. The various postseason races will be decided over these next two weeks and change, as will the major awards races. That is the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year in each league. As things stand, most awards races are wide open.
With the regular season winding down, we here at CBS Sports are going to break down the various awards race this week. To be perfectly clear, we're not telling you how we'd vote for each award. We're analyzing the races based on the established standards of the voting body. That's a bit subjective, but, then again, so are the awards.
Our awards race continues with the Rookie of the Year in each league. Here are the best candidates for the NL ROY at this point in time. The players are listed alphabetically within each tier.
The Top Tier
Pete Alonso has already set the Mets record for most homers in a season. He's unlikely to set the overall rookie record -- which currently belongs to Aaron Judge, who homered 52 times in 2017 -- but his freshman campaign has played out better than could have been expected. We think he's the favorite at the moment to win the hardware.
Because of Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr., it feels like Mike Soroka has almost flown under the radar. Here's to correcting that. Soroka has a 181 ERA+ through his first 25 starts. For reference, the only rookie pitcher with more than 150 innings and a higher ERA+ since the expansion era is Mark Eichhorn -- and he pitched in relief. What Soroka is doing hasn't received as much acclaim as Alonso's thrashing of the record books, but it's just as impressive.
You can make the case that Tatis Jr. was the most exciting rookie. A dynamite talent who, in the Javier Baez mold, just seemed to make things happen. Unfortunately, injuries derailed a real run at the Rookie of the Year Award for Tatis. The good news is he's clearly going to have a long career -- and he has a great chance of bringing home more important awards over the years.
Also In The Mix
Bryan Reynolds might well break the single-season record for highest batting average on balls in play. That's impressive. In most years, he'd probably win or at least come in second. This is a ridiculous class of NL rookies, however, which means he'll have to settle for a lower finish.
Victor Robles's support will hinge on how many voters trust advanced defensive metrics. Offensively, he's well below some of his peers. He's supposedly been worth 20 runs in center, though, and that more than helps erase the gap.
Alex Verdugo doesn't have Reynolds's offensive numbers or Robles's defensive metrics. He has a little of both and he played a lot for the best team in the league. All the above counts for something.
Others Of Note
Aristides Aquino has been an absolute blast to watch. But it's hard to see him finishing too highly; there are just too many well-performing rookies with more playing time.
How often does a Rookie of the Year vote recipient get traded midseason? Zac Gallen has continued to pitch well since coming to Arizona from Miami.
Keston Hiura can hit. He just missed too much time -- due to being held down and injuries -- to make a real run for the higher tiers.
Kevin Newman has been an above-average hitter who should finish the year with more than 100 appearances at shortstop. That's worthy of a nod, if nothing else.
Remember when Chris Paddack looked like a top-flight contender for the award? He has a 4.75 ERA in the second half.
Will Smith has been outstanding, but as with Aquino the small sample factor will work against him.
We'll end with Christian Walker, who is 28-year-old first baseman. He might hit 30 homers and that still counts for something.
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