NL Rookie of the Year Race Heats Up: Who Gets Your Vote?
With the second half of the season under way, so is the race for the NL Rookie of the Year.
So far there are plenty of worthy candidates and will probably be to close to call until the last couple of weeks in the season.
There is no clear leader, thanks to the likes of Jamie Garcia (Cardinals), Ike Davis (Mets), Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), Buster Posey (Giants) and Jason Heyward (Braves), who are all having great rookie campaigns.
Only time will tell who will end up NL Rookie of the Year.
Here are my candidates and potential winners of the award.
Mike Leake, Starting pitcher, Cincinnati Reds
He is the first player to go straight from the draft to the majors since Xavier Nady in 2000.
No one expected him to be starting in the Majors right after being drafted.
Not even the Reds organization thought that he would win the fifth starting spot on their rotation.
That is something that hasn't effected him, having a pretty solid season for the Reds with a 6-1 record and a 3.53 ERA.
He is a viable piece to this team making the playoffs and possibly winning the race against the Cardinals for the NL Central.
So don't count him out of this race either.
Ike Davis, First baseman, New York Mets
Where did Ike come from?
The Mets knew that he would be able to provide some offensive help and be a good defensive first baseman, but they didn’t know he would be this good so quickly.
Leading all rookies in homers (13) and RBI (45), he has made quite the name for himself in the Queens.
The biggest question mark is whether or not he will be able to bring up his low .261 batting average. While the power numbers are there, the average is not.
If the average doesn't improve, then you probably won't be hearing his name called for the award at the end of the season.
Gaby Sanchez, First baseman, Florida Marlins
During spring training he was battling for the starting position at first base. He eventually won that job over Logan Morrison and hasn’t looked back since.
He has been putting up solid numbers all across the board since the beginning of the season. A .302 batting average, nine homers and 39 RBI has put him with the rookie leaders in these respective categories.
Sanchez is my sleeper pick to potential win the NL Rookie of the Year.
He has all the tools and stats it takes to win the award.
The Marlins may not make the playoffs this season but they have two potential award candidates this season with Josh Johnson (Cy Young) and Gaby Sanchez (NL Rookie of the Year).
Jason Heyward, Outfielder, Atlanta Braves
On pace to hit 20-25 homers and 85 RBI isn’t bad for a rookie campaign. His only downfall so far this season has been his .250 batting average.
Some have compared him to a young Ken Griffey Jr. and with a rookie season like he is having, that may just be true.
Let’s see if he can raise that average up and continue the power numbers this second half. If that can be done, then he will surely be one of the top candidates if not the top candidate when the ballots are in.
Stephen Strasburg, Starting pitcher, Washington Nationals
Before the season began, the 100 mph throwing phenom was the number one candidate for NL Rookie of the Year on everyone’s list.
Though he didn’t get called up as quickly as most thought, he hasn’t disappointed at all thus far since making his long awaited debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates back on June 8th.
That game he threw seven innings of four-hit ball and striking out 14 in what was a dominating performance.
With his 4-2 record, 2.03 ERA, and team leading 68 strike outs in only 48.2 pitched, he has made everybody want to watch the Nationals, or at least when he is pitching.
Having gone five or more innings and only giving up three or less earned runs in each of his starts, makes him one of the top choices for NL Rookie of the Year.
Buster Posey, Catcher, San Francisco Giants
The Giants top prospect has been everything they had hoped for and more.
He has exceeded expectations thus far, leading all rookies with a .353 batting average.
Not to mention he has more homers (8) and RBI (28) than Russell Martin of the Dodgers, who has nearly, double the amount of plate appearances.
He may just be that offensive spark plug that the Giants have needed and if he keeps this pace up, you very well may be looking at the NL Rookie of the Year.
Jaime Garcia, Starting pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals
What’s that you say, another rookie pitcher out performing Strasburg?
That’s exactly what you get with Jaime Garcia right now in St. Louis.
Most people haven’t heard of him, thanks to being overshadowed by teammates, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. But that hasn’t stopped him from establishing himself with an 8-4 record.
His 2010 rookie campaign has been very impressive. Showing steady command and being able to prevent runs in clutch situations is something he has down all season so far. He is leading all rookies in wins (8), ERA (2.17), strike outs (84), and batting average against (.238).
There is no question that as of now he is the front runner to win the award. With the Cardinals in a tight race for the NL Central, I don’t see him slowing down and that is why he is my choice for NL Rookie of the Year.