Tampa Bay rookie Wil Myers was a fantastic addition to the lineup, adding a capable bat to a middle that badly needed help on offense. But it's the way he got hot at just the right time late in the season that should secure American League Rookie of the Year honors for the young Rays slugger.
Myers has been a bit of a disappointment in the postseason, but the Rookie of the Year is a regular season award. So setting aside his rookie mistakes and disappointments in the playoffs, it's clear that he has the raw statistics to command the award without any further justification.
Among players with 350 plate appearances or more, Myers ranks in the top-25 in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. That was a huge boost for a Rays team that badly needed a more consistent bat in the lineup to help out their talented pitching staff.
Looking at the advanced stats, Myers gets an even bigger boost to his candidacy. Myers led all AL Rookies in wOBA and WAR according to Fangraphs. WOBA stands for weighted on base average and is one of the best "catch-all" offensive statistics, as explained by the staff at Fangraphs. WAR is an overall measure of how much value a player adds to a team above a replacement-level player.
But the most important point of Myers' award candidacy is his improved batting in September. In August, it appeared that Myers hit a rookie wall and that pitchers had caught up with him. But in September, Myers bounced back, and his increased productivity was key for the Rays in a crucial stretch to put the team in position to make the playoffs.
Take a look at one of his more memorable moments from September in the video below, as he crushes a ball deep to left-center field against the Twins.
Myers had at least one hit in 15 games during a late September rally in which the Rays won 14 of 20 games, including wins over every one of their division rivals. This is the kind of clutch hitting that separates him from fellow AL Rookie of the Year contender Jose Iglesias of the Detroit Tigers, who had only two total hits after September 10th.
So despite his postseason missteps, Myers should be awarded the AL Rookie of the Year honors for his fantastic statistics and his clutch hitting when it mattered most.