In last week's Prospect Watch, we examined the top five candidates for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. This week, we're shifting our gaze to the National League and conducting the same exercise.
Before getting to the good stuff, let us issue two reminders: The players are presented in the perceived order of their likely finish; and this is but a snapshot in time, and it's quite possible things change between now and the end of the season.
Now, onto the five rookies who have defined the NL this season.
1. Jonathan India, 2B, Reds
India started this season relatively slow, posting an OPS under .700 through the first two months. He's since been on a four-month heater that has seen him hit .288/.397/.512 with 17 home runs and 25 doubles in his last 91 games. Throughout it all, he's maintained a patient approach that helps to explain why the Reds have used him as their leadoff hitter since June. What's more is his 39% swing rate and 21% chase rate are lower than Joey Votto's marks (44% and 22%), and Votto is known for his disciplined approach. India leads all NL rookies in Wins Above Replacement, and he would seem to be the odds-on favorite to win the hardware.
2. Trevor Rogers, LHP, Marlins
If the season had ended on Aug. 1, then Rogers would be in the catbird seat. In 20 starts to that point, he had accumulated a 2.45 ERA and 89 more strikeouts than walks in 110 innings. Alas, Rogers then missed all of August so that he could support his father after his COVID-stricken mother was placed on a ventilator. She recovered, thankfully, and Rogers rejoined the Marlins rotation in early September. Rogers clearly has his priorities in the right order and he should be commended for that. Playing time often dictates close award races, however, and that factor favors India.
3. Dylan Carlson, OF, Cardinals
4. Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves
The playing time aspect also lands Carlson the No. 3 spot ahead of another good young starter, in Ian Anderson. Carlson has appeared in more than 90% of the Cardinals' games this season, batting .259/.340/.411 (110 OPS+) along the way. Anderson, conversely, missed a month-plus because of a shoulder issue. Carlson hasn't been spectacular -- his Baseball Savant page has a lot more blue than you'd expect from someone of his pedigree -- but he's been reliable. That matters.
Anderson, for his part, has battled his command throughout the season. He's walked four or more batters in five starts, which is tied for the seventh-most in the majors despite the aforementioned time off. Anderson has nevertheless maintained a 122 ERA+ and it's possible that he overtakes Carlson by virtue of offering more impact.
5. Patrick Wisdom, 3B, Cubs
This spot could go to any number of other players, including St. Louis shortstop Edmundo Sosa and Miami second baseman Jazz Chisholm. We're giving the nod to Wisdom, the ever rare 30-year-old freshman, because of his brilliant power display. He entered Tuesday ranked third in the majors in home runs among rookies with 25, putting him four back of Texas' Adolis García, who has had the benefit of more than 220 additional trips to the plate. Maybe Wisdom gets docked for his (relative) seniority, or for his playing time. He deserves some flowers all the same for making the early stages of the Cubs' latest rebuild slightly more enjoyable.