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

Over the next two weeks, I am going to be 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 National 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: Dylan Carlson

Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Rookie Line: 149 Games, .266/.343/.437 (.780 OPS/117 OPS+), 18 HR’s, 65 RBI’s, +3.2 bWAR/+2.8 fWAR

After a 35-game 2020 season, Dylan Carlson was a consensus Top-20 prospect who got started just a bit too early as he hit to a .200 batting average. However, his playing in just 35 games kept his rookie status around for the 2021 season during which he improved greatly. He was also the 2nd best National League rookie hitter (by fWAR) and he fared much better by bWAR (+3.2). Overall, he had a solid rookie season is what was honestly a pretty weak class. He has much to improve to showcase his prospect potential, though a Top-3 finish in the R.o.Y. is a solid start.Embed from Getty Images

 

Number Two:

Name: Jonathan India

Team: Cincinnati Reds

Reliving Line: 150 Games, .269/.376/.459 (.835 OPS/113 OPS+), 21 HR’s, 69 RBI’s, +3.9 bWAR/+3.9 fWAR

A Top-50 prospect heading into the 2021 season, Jonathan India showed himself to be a solid MLB debut in the same year he was first considered a top prospect in the sport. He was the top NL batter by fWAR and he matched the metric by bWAR, of which showcases that both his bat, glove, and baserunning are of value (the metrics often disparage when defense and/or baserunning metrics don’t agree). He served as the Reds main lead-off hitter (hitting there in 103 games) over the course of the season, taking on one of the harder roles in the line-up just 56 games into the season. India is a promising and a fun player to root for going forward (and his 81st percentile BB% is nice for the Reds too).Embed from Getty Images

 

Number One:

Name: Trevor Rogers

Team: Miami Marlins

Pitching Line: 25 G, 7-8 Record (.467 WP%), 2.64 ERA (158 ERA+, 2.55 FIP), 133.0 IP, 1.150 WHIP, 157 K’s (10.6 K/9), 46 BB (3.1 BB/9), +3.2 bWAR/+4.2 fWAR

The top NL pitcher from the 2021 season, I went with Trevor Rogers as the best NL Rookie over India, though I could see how somebody flips the two. Ultimately the difference for me is that I believe that a starting pitcher with an ERA+ over 150 for 25 games is more valuable than a hitter with an OPS under 115 for 150 games. Though, it was a hard case for me to make given Rogers missed a little over a month while on the bereavement list. (And how much can/do you hold that against a player?) Additionally, even while not qualifying as a pitcher, of all pitchers in the NL with over 100 innings pitched, Rogers ranks tied for 10th for fWAR. It’s hard to argue against a rookie being the 10th best pitcher in the NL and having them not be the R.o.Y. If there is one player who also projects to be the best going forward, I’d put my money on Rogers as well. (His baseball savant page is nearly all red!)Embed from Getty Images

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