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MLB Award Races: Frontrunners for the AL and NL Rookie of the Year

Randy Arozarena

The MLB award for the Rookie of the Year is going mostly unnoticed, despite some auspicious play from baseball’s future stars.

This article discussing the Rookie of the Year candidates will be the first of a three-part series regarding the MLB award races. The competition for the best first-year player in both leagues has been fierce, and it is still anyone’s game. Multiple rookies have put together solid cases for the award, but only one can come away with it. Here is my take on who will win the American and National League Rookie of the Year…

AL Rookie of the Year

Frontrunners: Randy Arozarena & Adolis Garcia

Due to Randy Arozarena’s insane playoffs last year, he entered the season as a ROTY favorite. In the 2020 postseason, he set an MLB record with 29 hits and 10 homeruns. Although his playoff performance was astonishing, that same level of success disappeared in the first half of 2021. In doing so, a different Cuban outfielder quickly emerged as the American League’s new frontrunner. In the first half, Adolis Garcia was not only the AL’s best rookie, but he was also an elite outfielder that made the All-Star team.

However, Garcia’s second half has been far from all-star caliber. Entering the break, Garcia was hitting .270 with an impressive .840 OPS. Since then, he has been slumping with a batting average of just .213 and a .662 OPS. While his overall rookie campaign is still impressive, Randy’s turnaround after the break has put him back atop the leaderboard. Arozarena has a post-break batting average of .307 and the 17th best OPS (.938) in all of baseball. Furthermore, in the 82 games before, Arozarena smacked 10 long balls, whereas in 45 games since, he’s hit 9 more.

If the season ended today, my pick for this MLB award would be Randy Arozarena. Both Cubans’ seasons had half impressive and half mediocre seasons. The issue in Garcia’s case is his numbers are weaker than Randy’s for both. Overall, Arozarena’s and Garcia’s stats are, respectively, (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS)… .270/.349/.455/.804 with 19 HRs, 87 Runs, 64 RBIs, and a 3.5 WAR vs. .247/.294/.475/.769 with 30 HRs, 72 Runs, 81 RBIs, and a 3.6 WAR.

NL Rookie of the Year

Frontrunners: Jonathan India & Trevor Rogers

Unlike the American League, this battle is between players of different positions. India is an up-and-coming infielder with all the tools to succeed at the big-league level. Whereas Trevor Rogers, who’s of no relation with the MLB twins Tyler and Taylor Rogers, is a widely unknown and overlooked left-handed pitcher. When Rogers has played, he’s been a valid Cy Young candidate. However, an injury sidelining him for most of August has hampered his chances of receiving any hardware this season.

Like Adolis Garcia, Rogers was an All-Star, but his dominance has not slowed one bit. Throughout his 21 starts this year, Rogers has yet to allow 3 earned runs. Such an impressive feat is hard to come by, even for our Cy Young candidates below. Rogers has put together a season ERA of just 2.71, as well as a 1.174 WHIP. Despite his 122.2 IP ranking 73rd most in baseball, Rogers has clearly shown his value by racking up a top-30 WAR (3.4) among pitchers.

Jonathan India, on the other hand, has been as consistent as rookies can get. Day-in and day-out, the Reds can expect India to be a dangerous leadoff hitter with a strong defensive identity. India is a top-tier leadoff hitter with a .375 OBP, which ranks 11th best in all of baseball. Additionally, India has put together a well-rounded stat line with a .270 BA, .835 OPS, 20 HRs, 86 Runs, 66 RBIs, and a 3.6 WAR. While both of these guys have had great seasons in their own right, one has to come out on top.

Vegas currently has India as a massive favorite (-1075), with Rogers as the runner-up (+650). Nevertheless, I will have to go against Vegas here and pick Trevor Rogers as my NL ROTY. While he may not win it, I do think I’d rather have Rogers than India. This is not to downplay the former #5 overall pick’s season nor his potential, but rather to highlight Rogers’ mostly unnoticed and yet amazing rookie campaign.

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