NL Rookie of the Year Finalists
Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins
If you want to make an argument for either of the top two NL Rookie of the Year candidates, I wouldn't necessarily disagree you. Jose Fernandez gets the edge in my book for two reasons.
First, it's not every day you see a rookie finish second in strikeouts per nine innings (9.75), second in ERA (2.19), fourth in fielding independent ERA (2.73) and sixth in expected fielding independent ERA (3.08).
Second, according to Jonah Keri of Grantland, the only other player with a lower ERA during his age-20 season in the last century was Dwight Gooden in 1985. That was the same year "Doc" won the Cy Young and finished fourth in MVP voting.
It's a close race, but when you are making history at such a young age, you get a bump for style points.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Puig is an interesting case study because there are so many narratives voters can use for and against him. The Dodgers called him up on June 3 when they were 24-32. They went 68-38 the rest of the way, some of which voters will attribute to Puig's energy.
(For the record, having Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hanley Ramirez didn't hurt matters.)
On the flip side, stories of Puig's immaturity and hostility towards the media are going to cause a lot of backlash that will cost him votes.
As far as what he did on the field, Puig was tremendous. He led all position-player rookies in either league with 4.0 Fangraphs' wins above replacement, on-base percentage (.391) and slugging percentage (.534).
There were missteps along the way, like trying to steal a base where the opportunity wasn't there or overthrowing a cutoff man trying to make a spectacular play at third base instead of holding a runner at first base.
It's all part of the development process, and Puig will get better.
Shelby Miller, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
At least the BBWAA still knows Shelby Miller is around, even if the St. Louis Cardinals still aren't sure of his whereabouts.
Miller would have been right in the mix with Fernandez and Puig for the award if the season ended at the All-Star break. The 23-year-old right-hander had a 2.92 ERA and a 112-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 104.2 innings pitched in the first half.
Unfortunately Miller slowed down in the second half, with a 3.28 ERA and 57-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 68.2 innings. He's going to be a great pitcher for a long time, but in a deep rookie class, he's clearly the No. 3 choice.