The National League is in the midst of an extremely strong streak of Rookie of the Year winners
There are no Angel Berroas in this group
Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Braves on Monday against an incredibly strong rookie class that also included Juan Soto of the Nationals and Walker Buehler of the Dodgers. Both of the non-winning finalists would have been incredibly worthy winners of the award, as they had excellent seasons. Soto had one of the best seasons ever for a teenager. It's just that Acuna is that good and he's likely to get better and better, moving into superstar territory.
In looking at finalists like Soto and Buehler, one might be inclined to run out the trope, "any other year and they might have won it," but hoo boy is that way off in the National League.
The NL is in a very strong run of Rookie of the Year winners. Running through past winners of the award, we find all-time greats like Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Tom Seaver, Rod Carew, Johnny Bench, Cal Ripken and on and on we could go. There are punchline-like winners throughout the years as well, though. Angel Berroa, Jerome Walton, Jason Jennings, Bobby Crosby, Bob Hamelin, Pat Listach, Ron Kittle and on and on we could go.
Basically, winning Rookie of the Year is sometimes a stepping stone to superstardom and in many cases baseball immortality. In other cases, though, the winner just had way too good a rookie year or not much competition for the award or something caused his downfall as a player quickly thereafter.
In the case of the NL right now, we're on quite the streak. Since Geovany Soto and Chris Coghlan won back-to-back in 2008-09 and have mostly underwhelmed since, look at this run.
Man, those are some names. There's a lot of hardware from this group already: Three MVPs and deGrom is about to add a Cy Young. Tragedy took Fernandez but he looked like a Cy Young winner for a future season. If I had to bet on "yes" or "no" on whether or not this group produces multiple Hall of Famers, I'm going with yes (Posey, Harper and Bryant with a decent deGrom chance and, man, does Acuna look capable -- hell, Kimbrel's got a shot, too, I think and I wouldn't count Seager out).
The worst player of the group is probably Bellinger and he's already booked two 4+ WAR seasons with 64 homers in 294 games, a 131 OPS+ and can play all three outfield positions in addition to first base. He's going to have a long and productive career.
In perusing the history of the Rookie of the Year award and projecting what I expect from this group the rest of their careers, this is one of the best nine-year Rookie of the Year runs by either league in history. Once the dust settles on the remaining seven careers, it might well prove to be the best stretch.
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