NL Rookie of the Year Award Predictions
With less than one month remaining in the 2013 MLB season, it’s time to seriously consider award candidates across the majors. The race for the National League Rookie of the Year award will be particularly interesting, with the contest essentially boiled down to two candidates.
One of the NL Rookie of the Year candidates is Jose Fernandez, the brilliant young starter for the Miami Marlins. Fernandez has dominated throughout the entire season, posting a 10-6 record with a sparkling 2.33 ERA, good for third in the National League. He also leads the NL in a couple of categories, including hits allowed per nine innings and strikeouts per nine, as well as placing in the top three in WHIP, WAR among pitchers, and adjusted ERA. It’s worth noting he would likely win the Cy Young award were it not for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw‘s amazing season, despite being the second youngest player in the majors this year. Even so, Fernandez may not even win the Rookie of the Year award.
Standing in Fernandez’s way is Dodgers Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig. Puig took the baseball world by storm immediately upon his debut, and he’s maintained his production (for the most part) over the course of the 81 games in which he’s played this year, posting a .350 batting average and a .971 OPS.
Puig holds a distinct advantage over Fernandez in that he plays for a winning ballclub. It’s very easy to measure Puig’s value to the Dodgers due to the club’s drastic improvement upon his arrival. On Puig’s June 3rd debut, the Dodgers were in last place with a 23-32 record. Since then, they’ve gone 60-24, shooting up into first place in the West. They’re currently 83-56, and have all but clinched the division. (They have a 12.5 game lead over the second place Diamondbacks.)
Another disadvantage for Fernandez is his unimpressive 10-6 record. It’s no fault of his own, as the Marlins are last in the majors in runs scored, but voters tend to show bias towards better win-loss records when voting for awards, which works against Fernandez. It’s actually rather impressive that Fernandez has managed to post a 10-6 record, as the Marlins provide the young righty with the 16th-worst run support in the majors among all starters.
It’s also worth noting that Puig faces rather lackluster pitching in his division, the NL West. The Giants, Padres, and Rockies rank 12th, 13th, and 14th, respectively, in team ERA in the National League (out of 15 teams), while the Diamondbacks also come in at a no-so-impressive 9th. In contrast, Fernandez regularly faces the Braves, Mets, and Nationals, who rank 4th, 7th, and 8th, respectively, in runs scored in the NL. While the difference is not extreme, it’s clear that Puig faces easier opponents than Fernandez.
Yet another factor working against Fernandez in the Rookie of the Year race will be his lack of playing time, as he is scheduled to make just two more starts before being shut down for the remainder of the season. Puig, in contrast, will play regularly throughout the rest of the regular season.
In comparing the two players’ value, Puig’s WAR currently stands at 4.6, while Fernandez is at 5.5. However, Puig will certainly finish higher than Fernandez due to his constant playing time for the remainder of the season (unlike Fernandez).
In short, if the season were to end today, Fernandez would be the obvious choice for the Rookie of the Year. However, Puig’s extreme popularity, his team’s success, and Fernandez’s innings limit all point towards Puig winning the award.
Who should win: Jose Fernandez
Who will win: Yasiel Puig