Rookie of the Year: Arguments of each

Today we will find out who are the winners of the Rookie of the Year award in the National and American League. So with that in mind, we present the arguments of each of the finalists before the official announcement at 6 pm ET on MLB Network.

Randy Arozarena – OF, Rays
The Cuban’s arguments are clear. Following his historic 2020 postseason, the 26-year-old outfielder spent the entire 2021 regular season with the Rays. He put up some impressive numbers and in late September Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash declared that Arozarena deserved to be Rookie of the Year.

The slugger led all Big Top rookies with 4.2 WAR (Baseball-Reference version) and was second on the Rays (behind only Brandon Lowe) in that stat. He hit 20 home runs and stole 20 bases, becoming just the third rookie (alongside Andrew Benintendi and Mike Trout) in the past 10 years with a 20-20 season.

Arozarena finished tied for seventh among all MLB rookies and tied for fifth overall in home runs in the American League. He led the Young Circuit rookies with 94 runs scored, 32 doubles, 56 walks, 20 scammers, .356 on-base percentage and .815 OPS. He was a solid left-field defender, with seven Defensive Runs Saved in 81 games at that position.

It should come as no surprise that he is voted Rookie of the Year. – Adam Berry

Wander Franco – SS, Rays
The Dominican Franco lived up to the enormous expectations after being the best prospect in all of baseball for two years in a row, despite being only 20 years old and not having played beyond Class-A when the season began. By the time Tampa Bay sealed his playoff berth, the switch hitter and shortstop already looked like the best player in a club that won 100 games and, as Cash put it, “the most impactful player on any team in all of baseball.”

In total, Franco hit .288 / .347 / .463 with seven homers, five triples, 18 doubles, 39 RBIs and 53 runs scored. He had a 43-game streak going on base between July 25 and September 29, tied with Frank Robinson (1956) for the longest in LA / LN history among players 20 and younger. During that chain, he had more hits (55) than strikes throwing him (48), a perfect illustration of all his talent at the plate. What he did in the second half, plus the arrival in July of his compatriot Nelson Cruz, changed the dynamics of the Rays’ lineup.

The only “but” of his candidacy is the moment in which the Rays decided to raise him, since he only made 308 visits to the plate in 70 games, while the other two candidates spent the entire season in the majors. However, Willie McCovey was the 1959 NL Rookie of the Year despite making 219 home visits. While Wil Myers was with the Rays themselves in 2013 with 373 times at bat in 88 games. Franco finished the year with a 3.5 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference, fourth among MLB rookies behind Arozarena, Jonathan India and Adolis Garcia, despite playing half of the games. – Berry

Luis Garcia – RHP, Astros
After making the jump from Class-A to the Major Leagues in 2020, Venezuelan Garcia established himself as a Major League starter with a record of 11-8, a 3.48 ERA and a WHIP of 1.18 in 30 appearances (28 starts).

The right-hander led AL rookie pitchers in WAR (3.1), wins, innings pitched (155.1) and strikeouts (167). He was the eighth rookie for the Astros to win 11 games in a season and the first to do so since Collin McHugh in 2014.

Garcia started the season in the bullpen and pitched in two games as a reliever before moving into the rotation full-time on April 29. Among the Astros pitchers, he was second in strikeouts, tied for second in starts and tied for third in innings pitched. He did very well against rights, limiting them to an average of just .182 (from 286-52) and an OPS of .548. The Astros were 16-12 in his starts and he was the club’s only pitcher who didn’t spend a day on the disabled list. – Brian McTaggart

Dylan Carlson – OF, Cardinals
If versatility were the only thing to consider, Carlson would be the big favorite. He played in all three outfields and started games in each of the positions in the batting order except fourth and ninth. In the midst of all that, he brought in spectacular defense and a solid offensive line (.266 / .343 / .437, 117 OPS +) at age 22.

Carlson is the youngest of the three finalists and the first rookie in LA / LN history to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in more than one game in a season after doing so twice in 2021. – Zachary silver

Jonathan India – 2B, Reds
India’s numbers indicate that it should be the favorite to win this award on the Old Circuit. The 24-year-old hit .269 / .376 / .459 with 21 homers and 69 RBIs. In addition to leading the National with 23 balls received, he led the Reds with 12 stolen bases, 98 runs scored and 150 games played.

A key member of the leadoff lineup for much of the season, India hit .318 with a .974 OPS and 13 home runs in the Reds’ wins and .214 with a .679 OPS and eight home runs in the club’s losses.

Among rookies, India led both circuits in games played, on-base percentage, doubles (34), walks (71) and runs, while also finishing second in OPS with .835. – Mark Sheldon

Trevor Rogers – LZ, Marlins
Since the mound was lowered in 1969, only six rookie pitchers have equaled or surpassed Rogers’ totals in wins (seven) and strikeouts (157), while finishing an equal or better ERA (2.64): The late Cuban José Fernández (2013 ), the Japanese Hideo Nomo (1995), Mark Eichhorn (1986), Dwight Gooden (1984), the Mexican Fernando Valenzuela (1981) and Jon Matlack (1972). All but Eichorn were voted Rookie of the Year. Rogers allowed three or fewer runs in 21 straight starts to open the season, setting a franchise record.

At 23, Rogers quickly became the favorite for this award after being the National Rookie of the Month in both April and May, before being called up to the All-Star Game for what was done in the first half (2.31 ERA in 18 openings). Unfortunately, family matters kept him out of action for more than a month in the second half and after that his numbers weren’t equal.

Either way, he finished first among NL rookie pitchers in earned run average, strikeouts, starts (25), innings pitched (133), WHIP (1.15) and batting average against (.218). – Christina De Nicola


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Rookie of the Year: Arguments of each