Monday, November 12, 2018
Rookie of the Year / Year of the Rookie
The BBWAA will name the Rookie of the Year winner in the NL and AL today. The finalists in the NL are Juan Soto; Ronald Acuna, Jr.; and Walker Buehler.
In the AL, it's a pair of Yankees - Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar - as well as Shohei Ohtani, the Angels two-way sensation. I don't know who's going to win - it seems like you can make a compelling case for all 6 of the finalists. But what is amazing to me is the sheer volume of talented rookies this year.
They may not have had quite the years that the ROY nominees did, but one has to wonder who will end having the most prolific career. In Soto's shadow, Victor Robles may have been overlooked, but he will likely be a steady presence in the Nationals' outfield and should get an opportunity in 2019 if Bryce Harper signs elsewhere. Harrison Bader was the Cardinals' primary Centerfielder as a rookie, hitting 12 homers and stole 15 bases. Brandon Woodruff made only 19 regular season appearances, but was a key part of the Brewers' postseason strategy, and came up big on the mound and at the plate, hitting a homer and earned the victory in Game 1 of the NLCS. Brian Anderson was used in RF and at 3B in Miami, collecting 161 hits including 34 doubles in 2018.
Jack Flaherty had a stellar rookie year, striking out more than a batter per inning, and may have even had a case instead of Buehler to be the runner up finalist to Acuna / Soto. Buehler ultimately is the best choice, though Flaherty had a great season - which guy will have a better sophomore campaign is anyone's guess!
Ozzie Albies played 57 games in 2017, so he wasn't even eligible for the 2018 Rookie of the Year, but at just 21 years old, he hit 24 homers, 40 doubles, and scored 105 runs for the Braves in his 2nd year. Will Albies or Acuna have the better career?
Then there are the guys that were technically rookies, even though they were already household names like Rhys Hoskins and Rafael Devers, that had big impacts late in 2017 and carried over into 2018. Austin Meadows was traded to Tampa Bay in the Chris Archer deal, and he'll team up in 2019 with Willy Adames. Adames will be 23 years old, and Meadows will be 24 - and both appear poised to break out for big sophomore seasons.
I didn't even mention Jorge Alfaro, the Phillies' Catcher, or Ryan Yarbrough of the Rays, or A.J. Minter of the Braves, or the A's super reliever Lou Trevino. In 2017, most of the attention was (rightfully) on Judge and Bellinger and that seemed to be it for rookies - this year is seems like there are many more standout performers.
Which players do you think are in it for the long haul? Who am I snubbing?