MLB Prospect Watch: Will anyone overtake Jonathan India of the Reds for NL Rookie of the Year award?
In last week’s Prospect Watch, we took a look at the top five contenders for the American League Rookie of the Year award. This week, we look at the National League and carry out the same exercise.
Before getting into the good stuff, let’s do two reminders: the players are presented in the perceived order of their likely arrival; and that’s just a snapshot in time, and it’s entirely possible that things will change by the end of the season.
Now let’s move on to the five rookies who have defined the NL this season.
India started this season relatively slowly, posting an OPS below 0.700 in the first two months. He has since been under pressure for four months which saw him hit 0.288 / 0.397 / 0.512 with 17 homers and 25 doubles in his last 91 games. Throughout it all, he has maintained a patient approach that helps explain why the Reds have used him as a head hitter since June. Additionally, his 39% swing rate and 21% chase rate are lower than Joey Votto’s ratings (44% and 22%), and Votto is known for his disciplined approach. India lead all NL rookies in Wins Above Replacement, and he would appear to be the favorite to win the material.
If the season ended on August 1, then Rogers would be in the catbird seat. In 20 starts so far, he had a 2.45 ERA and 89 strikeouts more than walks in 110 innings. Alas, Rogers then missed the whole month of August to be able to support his father after her mother with COVID was put on a ventilator. She recovered, thankfully, and Rogers joined the Marlins’ rotation in early September. Rogers clearly has his priorities in the right order and he is to be commended for that. However, playing time often dictates tight reward races, and this factor favors India.
The playing time aspect also places Carlson in third place ahead of another good young starter, Ian Anderson. Carlson has appeared in over 90% of Cardinals games this season, beating 0.259 / .340 / .411 (110 OPS +) along the way. Anderson, on the other hand, missed a month or more with a shoulder problem. Carlson hasn’t been spectacular – his Baseball Savant page has a lot more blue than you might expect from someone of his pedigree – but he was reliable. It is important.
Anderson, for his part, has fought his command throughout the season. He’s walked four or more batters in five starts, which is tied for seventh in majors despite the aforementioned free time. Anderson nonetheless maintained a 122+ ERA and it is possible that he will overtake Carlson by offering more impact.
That spot could go to a number of other players, including St. Louis shortstop Edmundo Sosa and Miami second baseman Jazz Chisholm. We pay tribute to Wisdom, the very rare 30-year-old freshman, for his brilliant display of power. He entered third in rookie homers on Tuesday with 25 points, placing him four behind Texas Adolis García, who had more than 220 more trips to plate. Maybe Wisdom is docked for its (relative) seniority or for its playing time. It still deserves a few flowers to make the early stages of the Cubs’ latest rebuild a little more enjoyable.