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The 2021 IBWAA Awards (My Ballot): AL Rookie of the Year

It’s week two of my releasing my ballots for the various end-of-the-season awards across Major League Baseball. These are the same ballots/players that I submitted to the IBWAA before the postseason began.

This week we will go through all the American League Awards, continuing with the Rookie of the Year.

 

Preface:

For the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America), voters get to vote for the Top-10 players for the MVP, the Top-5 pitchers for the Cy Young, the Top-3 players for the Rookie of the Year, Reliever of the Year, and the Top-3 managers for the Manager of the Year awards.

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Welcome to the Rookie of the Year Day! It’s time to celebrate the future of our sport…or maybe the one-hit wonders of our sport who were surprisingly good in 2021 and may never be this good again. I mean, how many winners of the Rookie of the Year went on to the Hall of Fame or towards winning an MVP (or Cy Young) award?

Well, I ran the numbers and of the 148 Rookies of the Year in the MLB, 28 of them have went on to win an MVP Award (18.9%), 7 have went on to win a Cy Young Award (4.7%), and 16 of them have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (10.8%).

While these players often go on to have successful careers (at a much higher rate than non-rookies of the year), keep in mind that just because the rookie you think is going to be great didn’t have a great first season doesn’t mean he’s a failure (see: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.). Baseball is a sport all about fine adjustments and longevity. That being said, I wish all the best for these players I’m going to highlight over the AL and NL posts!

 

Number Three:

Name: Luis Garcia

Team: Houston Astros

Rookie Line: 30 G, 11-8 Record (.579 WP%), 3.30 ERA (130 ERA+, 3.63 FIP), 155.1 IP, 1.172 WHIP, 167 K’s (9.7 K/9), 50 BB (2.9 BB/9), +2.6 bWAR/+3.1 fWAR

Luis Garcia was the best AL Rookie pitcher this year while pitching to the most rookie wins, throwing the 2nd most innings, and having the 2nd best ERA amongst those with at least 15 starts (Alek Manoah had a better ERA, though with also 40 fewer innings pitched). Overall, Garcia put together a solid season across the board and has set himself up to be a solid #3 guy in most any rotation. This also greatly helps the Astros going forward with their rotation as they’re likely to let at least one of Verlander/Greinke this winter.Embed from Getty Images

 

Number Two:

Name: Adolis Garcia

Team: Texas Rangers

Rookie Line: 149 Games, .243/.286/.454 (.741 OPS/101 OPS+), 31 HR’s, 90 RBI’s, +3.8 bWAR/+2.9 fWAR

A league-average hitter, but an amazing defensive outfielder, Adolis Garcia was not high on many people’s radars going into the 2021 season. He wasn’t even a Top-30 prospect in the Texas Ranger system going into this year! However, he put together what became a season that was tops amongst all AL outfielders as he had the 2nd best DRS, the 2nd best UZR, the best ARM, a fangraphs DEF of +9.1, and a dWAR of +1.6. Garcia also lucked out that this was a weak offensive rookie class, which definitely helped make his defensive prowess shine through.Embed from Getty Images

 

Number One:

Name: Randy Arozarena

Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Rookie Line: 141 Games, .274/.356/.459 (.815 OPS/131 OPS+), 20 HR’s, 69 RBI’s,+4.2 bWAR/+3.3 fWAR

A break-out player in the 2020 postseason after just 42 career games played, Randy Arozarena was the clear favorite going into the 2021 season for the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he played himself into that role. He was the only rookie hitter to pass 4.0 bWAR and 3.0 fWAR, largely due to his great offensive abilities (as he was a top hitter and a solid baserunner). Arozarena played himself to a 20-20 season and was 1 of 6 players in the AL to do (4 players in the NL also recorded a 20-20 season). Going into the season I figured Arozarena- who was never considered a top prospect before his break-out 23-game stint at the end of 2020- was going to be able to live up to the hype. And, I was proven wrong. He did so, quite easily taking home my #1 spot for the AL Rookie of the Year.Embed from Getty Images

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