Just like the races in both leagues for the Cy Young and MVP awards, the Rookie of the Year award will come down to the final month of the 2013 season.
In the National League, it’s essentially a two-man competition between phenoms Jose Fernandez and Yasiel Puig. In his age-20 season, Fernandez has quickly emerged as one of the top pitchers in the game and made a strong case for consideration in the Cy Young voting. Meanwhile, Puig has been every bit as advertised since reaching the majors in early June. However, his reckless style of play and general lack of focus have come under heavy scrutiny over the last month.
After a torrid month of July, it seemed as though Wil Myers would ultimately run away with the American League Rookie of the Year award. However, a sluggish August has hurt the 22-year-old’s stock and, more importantly, opened the door for competition.
Here’s an updated look at the recent stock movement of baseball’s top Rookie of the Year candidates.
1. Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats: .287/.345/.448, 18 XBH (9 HR), 39 RBI, 5 SB, 61/21 K/BB (58 G)
If it weren’t for Chris Archer’s equally impressive showing on the mound, Myers would have likely won the AL Rookie of the Month award for July. In 23 games, the 22-year-old posted a .963 OPS with six doubles, four home runs, 18 RBI and five steals. More significantly, Myers was the driving force behind the Rays’ MLB-best 21-5 record in July.
This month, however, Myers has cooled off considerably. Through 22 games, he’s batting .210/.301/.309 with two home runs, 12 RBI and a 26/10 K/BB ratio. In addition to not having hit a home run since August 14, Myers is batting just .132 (5-for-38) over his last 10 contests, and is now 0-for-18 with eight strikeouts in his last five games.
2. Jose Iglesias, IF, Detroit Tigers
2013 Stats: .313/.361/.388, 92 H, 16 XBH, 47/14 K/BB (87 G)
Stock: Holding steady
Since coming over from the Red Sox at the trade deadline, Iglesias, who posted a .768 OPS with 91 hits in 83 games with Boston, has continued to exceed expectations at the plate. Through 24 games with the Tigers, the 23-year-old has batted .266/.318/.329 in 86 plate appearances.
However, the Tigers were more interested in Iglesias’ defensive prowess when they acquired him in late July. And sure enough, he’s already made a significant impact with the glove, saving one run with his defense in only 21 games at shortstop, according to Baseball-Reference.com. In his time with the Red Sox this season, Iglesias also saved one run with his slick defense but did so in 46 games.
3. Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats: 8-5, 102.1 IP, 2.81 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .210 BAA, 71/32 K/BB (17 GS)
Archer was recognized as the AL Pitcher and Rookie of the Month in July for going 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA over five starts. Since then, the 24-year-old has been inconsistent but still pitched well enough to remain relevant in the AL Rookie of the Year discussion.
After leaving his start on August 7 with forearm tightness after only 1.2 innings, Archer was knocked around his next time out on August 13 against the Mariners. The right-hander managed to hang around for five innings but was promptly chased after he allowed five earned runs on nine hits (two home runs).
With that clunker seemingly out of his system, Archer has been pitching like his July self during the second half of August. Over his last three starts, he owns a 2.57 ERA and 14/2 K/BB ratio in 21 innings and has logged exactly seven innings in each outing.
4. Yan Gomes, C-1B-DH, Cleveland Indians
2013 Stats: .289/.339/.483, 21 XBH (8 HR), 28 RBI, 40/13 K/BB (58 G)
Yan Gomes probably won’t get much love in the actual Rookie of the Year voting, but that doesn’t mean he’s undeserving.
The first Brazillian-born player to reach the major leagues, Gomes is quietly having a breakout year on both sides of the ball with the Tribe. However, the 26-year-old continues to be overlooked because he’s not an everyday player. Still, there’s something be said for the fact that he’s posted an OPS of at least .750 in four of five months this season.
While Gomes has shown some impressive pop this year with 21 extra-base hits in 201 at-bats, he’s been even more valuable behind the plate. Appearing in 58 games at catcher this season, Gomes has already saved seven runs with his defense and leads all backstops with a ridiculous 48 percent (13-for-27) caught-stealing rate.
However, after batting .182 (6-for-33) over his last 10 games, Gomes will need to pick up the pace offensively if he wants to stay in the Rookie of the Year discussion.
5. Brad Miller, SS, Seattle Mariners
2013 Stats: .264/.323/.421, 27 R, 19 XBH (5 HR), 38/19 K/BB (53 G)
Miller’s jump into the top five comes at the expense of teammate Nick Franklin, who’s posted a .394 OPS in 19 games (72 at-bats) this month.
Anyway, back to B-Mill. It didn’t take the 23-year-old long to settle in at the highest level, as he posted a .734 OPS with eight extra-base hits, 14 RBI and a 17/12 K/BB ratio in his first full month in The Show.
While he hasn’t reached base as often in August, Miller is enjoying his most productive month as a big leaguer, batting .280/.313/.449 with 30 hits (nine-extra-base hits) through 25 games. The only knock on Miller is that his defense at shortstop, while solid to the naked eye, has actually cost the Mariners four runs in 46 games.
Miller’s defense obviously will never be on the same level as Brendan Ryan’s. And thankfully, neither will his bat.
1. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats: 10-5, 145.2 IP, 2.41 ERA, 2.75 FIP, .189 BAA, 157/51 K/BB; 3.4 fWAR (24 GS)
Where does one even start in extolling the greatness of Fernandez?
After making a nearly unprecedented jump from High-A to the major leagues to begin the season, the 21-year-old—this is technically his age-20 season—is the favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year award and will likely rank within the top five in the league’s Cy Young voting.
Amazingly, the right-hander is currently enjoying his best month of the season with a 3-0 record, 0.82 ERA, .161 BAA and 41/9 K/BB ratio in 33 innings. More specifically, Fernandez has not allowed more than five hits in a start this month and fanned at least eight batters on three occasions.
Since the beginning of the season, the Marlins have made it clear that Fernandez will not throw more than 170 innings this year. But with 152.2 innings already his belt, the team is now exploring ways to get their phenom to pitch deeper into September. However, just because he won’t be shut down before the end of the season doesn’t mean that the organization will extend him beyond the 170 innings.
2. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats: .342/.401/.551, 93 H, 31 XBH (12 HR), 7 SB, 69/23 K/BB (71 G)
Following his promotion to the major leagues on June 3, Puig took baseball by storm by batting .436/.467/.713 with 44 hits and seven home runs in his first 26 games and was subsequently named with NL Player of the Month honors.
The 22-year-old’s production normalized in July with a .789 OPS and 31 strikeouts in 24 games, though he also was bothered by a bruised left hip after an encounter with the right field wall.
Although Puig hasn’t posted insanely good numbers this month as he did following his arrival in June, he’s made adjustments to his approach and, believe it or not, seemingly grown up a bit as a hitter. Through 26 games in August, he’s batting .309/.396/.511 with 16 runs scored, 12 extra-base hits and a 21/13 K/BB ratio.
Despite his ongoing production, Puig has made headlines recently for all the wrong reasons. Roughly a week and a half ago, the outfielder, along with teammates Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford, was seen partying in a Miami nightclub with—wait for it—LeBron James. And then, just yesterday, the polarizing phenom was removed from the game by manager Don Mattingly in the fifth inning because he “wasn’t ready on defense” for every pitch. Apparently the decision hit home with Puig, who vowed to give “100 percent” the rest of the way after the game.
3. Hyun-jin Ryu, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats: 12-5, 160.2 IP, 3.08 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .249 BAA, 133/45 K/BB (25 GS)
Stock: Holding steady
Teammates Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke have received the most attention this season, understandably, but Ryu has been the unsung hero in the Dodgers’ talented starting rotation.
After a shaky month of July in which he registered a 4.50 ERA over four starts, the 26-year-old has been much more consistent in August. Prior to his latest start on August 24, the left-hander had strung together three consecutive quality starts and worked at least seven innings. However, that streak came to an end on Saturday against the Red Sox, as Ryu allowed four earned runs on five hits with seven strikeouts over five innings.
4. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2013 Stats: 10-6, 149 IP, 2.96 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 132/34 K/BB; 2.0 fWAR (24 GS)
After an outstanding showing during spring training that earned him a spot in the Opening Day starting rotation, Teheran got off to an inauspicious start with a 5.08 ERA in April.
Since then, the right-hander has been one of the more consistent pitchers in the National League. Since the beginning of May, Teheran, 22, has registered a 2.63 ERA and 120/26 K/BB ratio in 126.2 innings. He’s also logged at least six innings in 17 of 20 starts during that span. As long as the Nationals don’t creep back into the playoff hunt during the first week of September, expect the Braves to give Teheran additional rest in anticipation of the postseason.
5. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats: 12-8, 139.2 IP, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, .227 BAA, 151/41 K/BB (25 GS)
Miller was one of baseball’s top pitchers over the first two months of the season, registering a 2.02 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with a 65/16 K/BB ratio over 62.1 innings. However, the rookie right-hander hit a rough patch when the calendar flipped from June to July, as he allowed more earned runs (15) during the month than he did over his first 10 starts.
With 104.2 innings under his belt headed into the All-Star break, the Cardinals offered the 22-year-old additional rest with 13 days between starts. Upon his return, Miller posted a 2.71 ERA with a 20/6 K/BB ratio in 16.2 innings over three starts.
Unfortunately, Miller ran into some tough luck during his outing on August 7 when he took a line drive off his right elbow on the second pitch of the game. Luckily, the right-hander didn’t sustain a serious injury and was able to make his next turn in the rotation—though maybe it wasn’t the best idea considering he allowed five runs (three earned) on eight hits over five innings.
In his last two starts, however, Miller has seemingly regained his early-season form, allowing only three earned runs on eight hits with a 14/4 K/BB ratio in 12.1 innings.