My Ballot for the IBWAA: Rookie of the Year
Later today, the BBWAA will announce the AL and NL winners for the Rookie of the Year award. This is how I voted for the IBWAA:
Corbin Carroll (ARI)
James Outman (LAD)
Nolan Jones (COL)
Spencer Steer (CIN)
Matt McLain (CIN)
The National League featured a clear and obvious winner in Corbin Carroll that it almost doesn't need to be further elaborated on. But, because I'm a nice guy, I'll make it easy for you to understand where I'm at: Carroll had a +5.4 bWAR/+6.0 fWAR while hitting to a .285/.362/.506/.868 quadruple slash with a 134 OPS+/133 wRC+ over 155 games alongside 161 hits, 30 doubles, a league-leading 10 triples, 25 home runs, 76 RBI's, and 54 stolen bases (5 times caught). He came in, proved he was a star, and will walk away with the award to prove it.
For the rest of the league the decisions were a bit more difficult to fully round-out, but I think I found a nice blend of talent for my ballot. The Los Angeles Dodgers have just continued to build and develop talent and James Outman is just the latest example of this. The left-handed outfielder put up +3.3 bWAR/+4.4 fWAR, a 112 OPS+/118 wRC+, 23 Home Runs and solid defensive numbers in centerfield over 151 games.
The Rockies had a great season from a lefty outfielder in Nolan Jones, who did great work at the plate in his 106 games last season. His .297/.389/.542/.931 quadruple slash produced a 138 OPS+/135 wRC+ and +4.3 bWAR/+3.7 fWAR. As a voter who favors those who play, it was tough dropping Jones to 3rd, but the 106 games was a bit too few for me to favor him any higher.
Two rookies from the same team finish out my ballot in the National League with Spencer Steer just edging out his teammate. Steer played in 156 games while gaining +3.0 bWAR/+2.1 fWAR to his early career totals while collecting 158 hits and 23 home runs as a utility man who played at first, second, third, left, and right field. Matt McLain came up late into the year, making it into just 89 games, but did produce to a +3.7 bWAR/+3.2 fWAR while cracking 16 home runs as a middle-infielder on the rise. Those two combined will make the St. Louis Cardinals offseason an interesting one to follow with all the young talent they've accumulated in recent years.
Honorable Mention: One NL honorable mention goes to the New York Mets backstop Francisco Alvarez, who seemed to come up clutch during every Mets game I watched with my girlfriend. (To be fair, it was only like 3 games, but in each I could swear he hit a clutch late game home run.) He gets a lot of ups to his value from being a catcher, but his +0.9 bWAR/+2.7 fWAR and 95 OPS+/97 wRC+ needed to be on the other side of average (100) for me to break him into the Top-5.
Gunnar Henderson (BAL)
Triston Casas (BOS)
Masataka Yoshida (BOS)
Josh Jung (TEX)
Zack Gelof (OAK)
Different league, but same story. In the American League this year there was one rookie who- far and away- made himself the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award. Gunnar Henderson of the Baltimore Orioles put up +6.3 bWAR/+4.6 fWAR with a 125 OPS+/123 wRC+ after showcasing this could happen in a small 34 game sample in 2022. The Orioles infielder played in 150 games, collected 143 hits, 29 doubles, 9 triples, 28 home runs, and had a .255/.325/.489/.814 quadruple slash with above-average defense as well. He avenges his teammate Adley Rutschman (who finished 2nd in ROY voting behind Julio Rodriguez in 2022) and brings a notable award to a franchise with lots of young talent and a lot to prove going forward.
It may not be favorable to say on a Yankee-centric blog, but the next two players also come from the AL East and most notably from the Yankees core rival: The Boston Red Sox. Their first baseman Triston Casas had a solid season with a +2.2 bWAR/+1.7 fWAR as a bat-first player who put up 24 home runs and 21 double over 132 games. On the opposite side of the field, Masataka Yoshida was another bat-first rookie who had a +1.4 bWAR/+0.7 fWAR with a 109 OPS+/109 wRC+ over 140 games with 15 home runs and 155 hits with a .289 batting average.
The World Series winning Rangers, in addition to all their expensive talent also have a young stud who helped them a ton in the postseason (17 games, 13 RBI's, .308 AVG) in Josh Jung. However, his regular season was held to just 122 games with a 109 OPS+/110 wRC+ due to a thumb fracture in early August that kept him out for 6 weeks, though his +2.4 bWAR/+2.5 fWAR.
Last up is a surprise "small sample size" candidate from the Oakland Athletics, Zack Gelof, who is 69 games at the end of the season became a shining star for a franchise soon to be on the move. He hit to a +2.6 bWAR/+2.9 fWAR and a 137 OPS+/133 wRC+ with 14 home runs over just 270 at-bats.
Honorable Mention: To the readers of this blog, it is very obvious that I "missed" one of our own in Anthony Volpe. Yes, he won the American League Gold Glove award at a premier defensive position (this was learned a good month+ after I submitted my ballot), but even with his above-average (to great) defense, I present a 81 OPS+/84 wRC+. Defense is good, but hitting nearly 20% worse than league average is a counter that I think overpowers the defensive prowess. I'm very hopeful for Volpe's future (read my article on his winning the Gold Glove, here) but this season in its entirety was not near Rookie of the Year caliber.