With roughly three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Rookie of the Year awards in both leagues are still anything but decided.
It’s been a two-horse race between Jose Fernandez and Yasiel Puig in the National League for some time now.
The 21-year-old Fernandez put the final touches on a remarkable rookie season Wednesday night. In addition to beating the Atlanta Braves, the right-hander also hit the first home run of his career. However, Fernandez’s season is now complete due to his team-imposed innings limit, so Puig will have a chance to make up ground in the coming weeks.
As for the American League, it appeared as though Wil Myers would run away with the award after a torrid month of July. But an August slump ultimately re-opened the door for competition, allowing Jose Iglesias, Chris Archer and even Yan Gomes to remain in the mix.
Here’s a look at the stock movement of baseball’s top Rookie of the Year candidates in both leagues.
1. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats: 12-6, 172.2 IP, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, .182 BAA, 187/58 K/BB (28 GS)
The final start of Jose Fernandez’s historic rookie season couldn’t have gone any better. Against the Braves in Miami, the 21-year-old phenom allowed one run on five hits over seven strong innings. His command was only average in the outing—61 of his 101 pitches were strikes—though that translated to three walks and five strikeouts.
Fernandez also cracked the first home run of his career in his last at-bat of the season. In doing so, he showed off his bat-flip skills as part of an overall solid dismount, which he followed with a lengthy admiration of his blast. Yeah, it was pretty awesome and exactly what you hope to see from Fernandez.
His show of emotion didn’t sit well with the Braves—especially the rarely level-headed Chris Johnson—and the benches cleared. Everyone involved issued apologies following the game, per the Associated Press, so it was no big deal.
Anyway, back to Fernandez.
Following the completion of Wednesday’s game, the right-hander ranked first in all of baseball with a .182 opponent batting average, as well as second with a 2.19 ERA and fourth with a 0.98 WHIP. As I wrote earlier this week, Fernandez has improved in every month this season. He should be the NL Rookie of the Year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a few first-place votes for the NL Cy Young Award.
2. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats: .339/.404/.556, 38 XBH (16 HR), 11 SB, 83/29 K/BB (88 G)
Coming off the most well-rounded month of his season, Puig appears poised to finish his monster rookie season just like he entered the league in June—on fire.
While the 22-year-old only has nine hits in 10 games since the beginning of September, three of them have been home runs, which matches his tally in each of the previous two months.
Where Puig bats in the lineup is usually based on the number of star players the Dodgers have available on a given night. However, there’s no question that when the team is mostly healthy, he’s best suited for the top of the order. In the 16 games in which Puig has batted leadoff this season, he’s hitting .431/.484/.759 with nine extra-base hits and 14 RBI.
Like Fernandez, Puig has enjoyed a historic rookie season. However, there can only be one NL Rookie of the Year.
Who you got?
3. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2013 Stats: 12-7, 168 IP, 3.05 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .246 BAA, 154/45 K/BB (27 GS)
If you ignore Teheran’s first three starts of the season, then his basic stats are as follows: 2.61 ERA with a 142/38 K/BB ratio in 152 innings. In those three forgettable outings, the right-hander allowed 13 earned runs, good for 21.3 percent of all of the earned runs that he’s allowed this season.
The 22-year-old’s body of work this season is impressive, especially considering the fact that many rated him as a top-10 overall prospect heading into the 2012 season. If not for Fernandez, we’d probably be talking about Teheran as the best rookie pitcher in the game.
4. Hyun-jin Ryu, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats: 13-6, 173 IP, 3.07 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .257 BAA, 140/46 K/BB (27 GS)
Coming off his worst month of the year, Ryu turned in four quality starts in August to go along with a 2.61 ERA and 34/4 K/BB ratio in 38 innings. However, the 26-year-old had to miss his start on Sept. 6 due to back stiffness, and he showed signs of rust upon his return on Sept. 11.
Making his first start since Aug. 30, Ryu allowed three runs on 10 hits and no walks with one strikeout in six innings against Arizona. We’ll see how he does in his next outing, as the left-hander is scheduled to take on the Diamondbacks once again on Monday.
5. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats: 13-9, 156.1 IP, 3.05 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .234 BAA, 161/50 K/BB (28 GS)
The Cardinals needed Miller to have a strong outing on Tuesday against the Brewers, and the right-hander gave them one of his best outings of the second half. In his first scoreless start since July 23, the 22-year-old allowed five hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
In his start against the Dodgers on Aug. 7, Miller took a line drive off his right arm and had to leave the game after throwing only two pitches. While he didn’t miss a turn in the rotation, the right-hander struggled over his next five starts, registering a 4.45 ERA in 28.1 innings. So, it was definitely nice to see him return to his first-half form on Tuesday.
1. Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats: .292/355/.468, 25 XBH (11 HR), 44 RBI, 77/27 K/BB (71 G)
Myers was arguably the driving force behind Tampa Bay’s midseason surge into playoff contention. In his first full month in the major leagues (July), the 22-year-old posted a .963 OPS with 10 extra-base hits and 18 RBI in 23 games.
However, Myers fell into a deep slump in August and had his playing time reduced, albeit slightly, as a result. And in his last seven games of the month, the outfielder went 1-for-23 with 11 strikeouts.
Myers has bounced back nicely in September, though, batting .333 with four doubles and two home runs while hitting safely in nine of 11 contests. It’s good timing too, because if the Rays ever needed him to produce, it’s now.
2. Jose Iglesias, SS, Detroit Tigers
2013 Stats: .317/.362/.405, 38 R, 21 XBH, 29 RBI, 55/15 K/BB (98 G)
Acquired from the Red Sox at the trade deadline as part of the Jake Peavy deal, Iglesias was coming off a dismal month of July in which he batted only .205 in 24 games. However, the 23-year-old’s production picked back up upon joining the Tigers, as he’s batted .292/.333/.398 with eight extra-base hits and 10 RBI in 35 games.
More importantly, Iglesias’ defense at shortstop—the primary reason Detroit targeted him—has been a revelation, with three runs saved in 31 games, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He’ll definitely receive some first-place votes for Rookie of the Year, though I still don’t see him overtaking Wil Myers.
3. Yan Gomes, C, Cleveland Indians
2013 Stats: .301/.354/.515, 29 XBH (10 HR), 34 RBI, 50/17 K/BB (74 G)
After a breakout first half of the season in which he batted .262 with six home runs in 39 games, Gomes arguably has been the Indians’ hottest hitter since the All-Star break. In 35 games, the 26-year-old has posted a .982 OPS with 15 extra-base hits and 14 RBI.
Gomes’ defense behind the plate has been stellar all season, with nine runs saved, according to Baseball-Reference.com. Even more amazing is the fact that he currently leads all major league catchers with a 44 percent caught-stealing rate (17-for-39). However, it’s the right-hander’s uptick in offensive production that’s led to his emergence as the Indians’ everyday catcher.
4. Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats: 8-7, 110 IP, 3.19 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .224 BAA, 77/34 K/BB (19 GS)
Archer received recognition as both the AL Pitcher of the Month and the AL Rookie of the Month for July after going 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA in 37 innings (five starts). The 24-year-old was shaky to begin August, but he ultimately righted the ship and finished the month by rattling off three consecutive seven-inning starts in which he allowed a total of four runs.
Unfortunately, Archer has once again fallen on hard times to open September, as the right-hander has failed to work beyond the fourth inning in both of his starts this month. Meanwhile, opposing hitters are raking against him at a .371 clip.
Archer will look to turn the corner and finish the season on a positive note when he takes the mound on Friday against Minnesota.
5. Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers
2013 Stats: 9-4, 100 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .268 BAA, 65/28 K/BB (16 GS)
Perez’s season had a delayed start after he suffered a broken left forearm on a comeback line drive during spring training. As a result, the 22-year-old didn’t get his first crack at a spot in the Rangers’ starting rotation until late June.
Although it took him roughly a month to settle in, Perez has been the Rangers’ most consistent starter since the beginning of August, with a 6-1 record, 3.23 ERA and 33/13 K/BB ratio over 47.1 innings.
However, his outing against Pittsburgh on Tuesday was arguably his worst showing during that span, as the left-hander allowed four earned runs on nine hits and two walks over five innings. It also snapped his streak of six consecutive starts with a win.