Approaching the midway point of the baseball season, it’s time to start thinking about awards. Sure there’s a full half to go and a lot will happen between now and the time voters officially send in their ballots. But after approximately half a year, here are some of the National League’s Rookie of the Year Candidates.
Yasiel Puig: Puig has taken the baseball world by storm. The Dodgers outfielder has played only 25 games through Saturday and has 96 at bats thus far, but he’s made quite an impression in that time. Puig has already mashed seven home runs, tallied 16 RBI, and has a staggering .417 batting average. Over the full course of a 162-game season, he would be on pace for about 45 home runs and 105 RBI. No one expects him to keep up that pace, and pitchers will surely catch up a bit once the book on his tendencies and weaknesses is passed around. Defensively, Puig already has three outfield assists – good for fifth in the league in right field. And while he’s made a couple of errors in the field, with a torrid June offensively, he may be the biggest name among the 2013 rookie crop.
Shelby Miller: Miller briefly provided a glimpse of his capabilities to fans last year in the majors. He pitched in only six games for St. Louis in 2012, but had an ERA of 1.32 and won his only decision. This season, Miller has picked up right where he left off and has been a full-time starter with the Cardinals. He’s pitched 16 games and while his 8-6 record isn’t overwhelmingly impressive since he plays for the team with the second best record in baseball, he has a solid ERA of 2.79 and his 101 strikeouts have come in only 93.2 innings of work. Miller leads the way for pitchers right now and has a legitimate chance to win 15 games.
Evan Gattis: Gattis has been the big slugger out of this year’s rookie crop looking at the full course of the season. Puig is the late sensation, but Gattis has been doing it a bit longer, playing in 53 games for the Atlanta Braves. Gattis has been nothing short of incredible when it comes to power, slugging 14 home runs in only 163 at bats – that puts him on the pace to hit over 50 in the full course of a season. He won the Rookie of the Month award in April and May, and he’s on everyone’s radar for the award. Sure, his average is a bit lower than desired, but at .256 it’s hardly an embarrassment. And one thing that will definitely help him when it comes to voting is his versatility. He’s played primarily at catcher but has also spent several games at first base and in the outfield.
Jedd Gyorko: Much of the hype around position players has been surrounding Puig and Gattis, but don’t sleep on Gyorko. He leads all rookies in hits, runs, and walks and is second in home runs. He’s also in the top five in RBI, slugging percentage, OPS, and doubles. His numbers don’t just rank well among rookies; Gyorko is putting up some of the best numbers among all of the National League’s second basemen. He’s currently fighting a groin injury that landed him on the disabled list, but he will have a chance to contend for the award once he’s back due to his hot start.
Gerrit Cole: Cole is a recent call-up for the first-place Pirates, but has already impressed in the short amount of time he’s been around. He has won all four of his starts and batters haven’t caught up to his 100 mph fastball yet. That’s not to say he has been perfect – his ERA of 3.70 is very average and teams have scored some runs against him. But Cole has been a solid addition to Pittsburgh’s staff and with such a strong team behind him, he will have a solid chance to get to 10-12 wins. And for what it’s worth, the Pirates’ phenom has also been a pretty good hitter. He’s 2-6 on the season with a couple of RBI and a walk, striking out only once.
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