Early August Rookie of the Year Candidates
As the we reach the dog days of August in the MLB, it seems like the perfect time to talk about the yearly award races. Rookie of the Year is a personal favorite as it shows players, who have spent years working and now receive recognition for accomplishing a lifetime goal.
The National League ROY race got a lot less crowded in the last week. Two out of the three front runners, Trevor Story tore a ligament in his thumb against the Mets, and Aledmys Diaz broke his thumb against the Marlins. The main rookie left in the NL is Dodger shortstop Corey Seager who has shown great ability with his bat so far this season. The award is pretty much Seager’s to lose at this point.
Meanwhile, two power hitting outfielders lead the American League. Tyler Naquin from Cleveland and Nomar Mazara with the Rangers. Mazara took the two early Rookie of the Month honors in April and May. He took the league by storm going three for four in his first MLB game, which included his first home run. The rest of the month he batted an astounding .333 with only 4 hitless games. He followed up his stellar first month with an excellent May, in which he upped his power numbers by hitting seven home runs, driving in 17 runs, while still hitting an impressive .283. Since then he has cooled down a little, hitting four home runs since May, but still being productive hitting .283 with 19 RBIs in the two-month span.
Meanwhile Naquin waited until June to really “hit” his stride playing centerfield for the 3rd place Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. In June Naquin hit an astounding .338 with six home runs and 15 RBIs. Then he decided to follow up his impressive June with an even better July, upping his average 10 points while still hitting 6 home runs and 15 RBIs. This catapulted the Indians into first place in the Central Division.
Although with two months left in the season there is always the possibility that The Twins’ Max Kepler plays his way into the Rookie of the Year conversation. Kepler has quietly put together a solid season besting both Mazara and Naquin in the home run category with 15, and knocking in 48 RBIs to go with his .263 average. If Kepler can keep up the power while raising his average a few points he could make a strong case for Rookie of the Year.
The race for AL rookie of the year will most likely come down to the final weeks. Both the Indians and the Rangers battle for playoff seeding, relying heavily on their rookie stars to carry injury riddled pitching staffs into the playoffs. The playoffs are, of course, where anything can happen. Right now Naquin has a slight lead over Mazara by hitting nearly 50 points higher while still keeping pace with home runs. We will see which rookie makes a final push to mark himself as the best in the American League.