MLB Rookie of the Year Watch: The Final Stretch

Rookie of the Year

The Rookie of the Year race is barely locked in. The top rookies in baseball have a few weeks left to finish the season on a solid note.  They’ve battled all season long as they make their final case to contend for the outstanding award. In the meantime, it will be the last time we check in the race before the season ends on October 3. The NL frontrunner is becoming more evident at this stage, but it appears to be close in the AL.

Rookie of the Year Watch 3.0

All stats are through September 19.

American League

Adolis Garcia, OF, Texas Rangers

.244/.290/.467, 72 R, 30 HR, 82 RBI, 11 SB, 105 OPS+

The 28-year old late bloomer shocked the baseball world with his early-season hot streak. Since then, Garcia hasn’t been consistent at the plate, but he leads all rookies with 30 home runs. He’s behind Ryan Mountcastle for the rookie lead with 82 RBI. A 31st dinger for the Cuban would surpass Pete Incaviglia for the Texas Rangers’ franchise rookie record. Despite the 28-year olds free fall from his hot month of May, he is still in contention for the award.

Luis Garcia, RHP, Houston Astros

26 GS, 11-7, 3.37 ERA, 160 SO, 122 H, 17 HR, 45 BB

The Houston Astros came into 2021 without Justin Verlander leading the rotation. But, the rise of Luis Garcia has helped the Astros gain closer to another AL West title. The right-hander enters the season’s final two weeks, leading AL rookie pitchers with a 2.8 fWAR and 11 wins. Hitters have an average of .228 against Garcia in the 26 games he started for Houston this season. Garcia has been, if not the most consistent pitcher in the Astros rotation this season.

Randy Arozarena, OF, Tampa Bay Rays 

.269/.348/.452, 87 R, 19 HR, 65 RBI, 14 SB, 127 OPS+

Randy Arozarena cooled off in the first half of the season. However, he’s been one of baseball’s best second-half hitters. The 2020 ALCS MVP is hitting .307/.378/.560 with nine home runs since the All-Star break. Arozarena leads all AL rookies with 130 hits and 26 doubles. Arozarena will need to keep up the pace to stand out as a finalist for the award. He and Akil Baddoo share the lead in stolen bases with 14.

National League

Jonathan India, 2B, Cincinnati Reds 

.269/.373/.459, 87 R, 20 HR, 66 RBI, 11 SB, 113 OPS+

Jonathan India hit a season-best seven home runs in August. The second baseman enters the weekend leading all qualified rookies with a .375 OBP. That puts him in serious contention to break Tony Cuccinaello’s .380 OBP. If he does, it would be the highest OBP by any qualified Reds rookie since 1930. He also enters Friday-leading NL rookies with 129 hits and 66 RBI.

Trevor Rogers, LHP, Miami Marlins

23 GS, 7-7, 2.71 ERA, 141 SO, 100 H, 6 HR, 44 BB

The southpaw is making his way back from a month-plus stint on bereavement leave. However, his resume right up until then still earns him a spot here. Miami won’t be contending for a playoff spot, but it’s hard to ignore with their rookie has done throughout the season. Trevor Rogers’ 2.71 ERA still leads all qualified rookie starting pitchers and is third among his class with 141 strikeouts.

Tyler Stephenson, C, Cincinnati Reds 

.279/.364/.420, 52 R, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 102 OPS+

Tyler Stephenson’s .364 OBP ranks fourth among catchers with 250-plus plate appearances. His .280 batting average ranks third, with Omar Navarez and Buster Posey just ahead of him. It’s uncommon to see rookie catchers hit, but Stephenson has that ability to do so. Stephenson’s performance gives the Reds a solid chance to have two of the top rookies in baseball.

Other MLB Rookie of the Year Players in the Hunt

Ryan Mountcastle, Wander Franco, Alek Manoah, Emmanuel Clase, Cole Irvin, Ian Anderson, David Bednar, Pavin Smith

 

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