With the 2019 Major League Baseball season over, it is now awards season, and this whole week will feature many MLB award announcements. The ceremonial week kicks off on Monday with the American and National leagues Rookie of the Year awards.
Here are the finalists for the AL award and their prominent statistics:
- Yordan Álvarez, OF, Houston Astros: .313 average, 27 home runs, 78 RBI, 1.067 OPS
- Brandon Lowe, UTL, Tampa Bay Rays: .270 BA, 17 HRs, 51 RBI, .850 OPS
- John Means, SP, Baltimore Orioles: 12-11, 3.60 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, 121 strikeouts
The way we see it, Álvarez would be the obvious choice here, and we expect him to win the award. Yet Means accumulated the highest Wins-Above-Replacement value (WAR) among the three candidates, putting up 4.6 WAR for the last-place Orioles.
Álvarez, playing a half season for a team with the best record in the league, generated 3.7 WAR in 87 games, while Lowe contributed 2.9 WAR in 82 games for the wild-card Rays. If this was a Most Valuable Rookie award, it would be belong to Means.
But it’s not, so look for Álvarez to run away with the vote, since in his worst month (September), he still hit .296 with six HRs and 16 RBI. He had a historic half season and deserves to be rewarded for it.
Now, here are the finalists for the NL award and their relevant statistics:
- Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets: .260 BA, 53 HRs, 120 RBI, .941 OPS
- Mike Soroka, SP, Atlanta Braves: 13-4, 2.68 ERA, 1.111 WHIP, 142 Ks
- Fernando Tatís, Jr., SS, San Diego Padres: .317 BA, 22 HRs, 53 RBI, 16 SBs, .969 OPS
Tatís got a lot of press and delivered on it for 84 games before getting hurt, missing the final two months of the season. Alonso set the all-time MLB rookie record for HRs, and Soroka led the NL in least HRs allowed, giving up just 0.7 dingers per nine innings.
Soroka also paced the trio with 5.6 WAR, however, which was better than Alonso (5.0) and Tatís (4.2). Of course, Soroka did his work for a division-winning club, and we’d like to see the voters reward a player for that: performing at a high level under the pressure of a pennant chase. That can’t be said for Alonso or Tatís.
Long term, we’d bet the house on Tatís’ career outshining both the others, and if he hadn’t gotten hurt, he would have been the favorite to win this award. As it is, we expect Alonso to win, simply because voters have shown little consistency in ignoring power numbers like his in the voting, even though he did it in a playoff-chase vacuum.
Soroka should win the award, and it will be frustrating to us that he probably will not.
Stay tuned for Spring 2020 when we start analyzing past award gaffes in MLB!