2019 Midseason Rookie of The Year Watch
Every major league team has either played 81 games or will reach that threshold in the coming days, meaning we have hit the halfway mark of the season.
Here is how the Rookie of the Year races stack to this point. All statistics are through June 26.
1. Brandon Lowe, 2B, Rays
The AL Rookie of the Year award remains Lowe’s to lose. The No. 93 prospect in baseball entering the season leads all AL rookies in hits (73), runs (38), doubles (17), home runs (15), RBIs (47), total bases (139) and OPS (.869), and he’s done it while playing above-average defense at second base in the eyes of nearly every defensive metric.
2. John Means, LHP, Orioles
Means is currently out with a shoulder strain, but his early work was enough to put him near the top of the AL's rookie class. Means’ 2.67 ERA is the lowest among AL rookie starters—and second-lowest amongst all rookie starters behind only Mike Soroka—and he keeps getting better. Since the beginning of May, Means has completed at least five innings and allowed three runs or less in every start.
3. Michael Chavis, 2B/1B, Red Sox
Chavis has cooled off significantly since his scorching start—he’s batting .243/.283/.355 with 46 strikeouts in 113 plate appearances over his last 27 games—but his total body of work still puts him among the AL’s best. Chavis ranks second only to Lowe among AL rookies in hits (62), runs (34), RBIs (38) and OPS (.785), and he is tied for third in home runs (12).
Coming On Strong
Jimenez and Guerrero got going late— Jimenez because he missed a month with an ankle sprain and Guerrero because he wasn’t called up until April 26—but the two are rounding into form. Jimenez has hit .289/.353/.579 in June and is tied for third among AL rookies with 12 home runs despite his month on the injured list. Guerrero, meanwhile, is batting .277/.343/.471 in his last 40 games since his 6-for-41 start.
Don’t Forget About
Yordan Alvarez, DH, Astros
Alvarez homered seven times in his first 14 games and is already tied for fifth among AL rookies (with Guerrero) in home runs. Alvarez’s late callup hurts his cause, but his premium offensive ability is very real and gives him a chance to rise quickly in the AL Rookie of the Year race.
Oscar Mercado, OF, Indians
Mercado has quietly helped stabilize the Indians' outfield and been one of the AL’s most productive rookies in the 36 games since his callup. Mercado’s .307 batting average and .358 on-base percentage would both rank first among AL rookies if he had enough at-bats to qualify, and his .464 slugging percentage would rank second. He already leads AL rookies with six stolen bases. Mercado has to show he can sustain his performance over a larger sample, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Marcus Walden, RHP, Red Sox
Walden has been one of the best rookie relievers in MLB even with some struggles during the last two weeks. The 30-year-old is 6-0, 2.72 with 49 strikeouts and 11 walks in a team-high 43 innings of relief for the Red Sox, and his 1.023 WHIP is also best among Boston relievers. While 30-year-old middle relievers don’t win Rookie of the Year awards, Walden’s performance is noteworthy.
1. Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets
While other top rookies have fallen off or gotten hurt, Alonso keeps mashing. The No. 48 prospect in baseball entering the season not only leads all rookies with 27 home runs and a 1.004 OPS, but he ranks second in the majors in homers and sixth in OPS. He is on pace to break Aaron Judge’s single-season rookie home run record and has already broken the Mets’ rookie home run record. Alonso has done it all while batting .281 and playing markedly improved defense at first base, giving him a loud and well-rounded resumè.
2. Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
If not for a hamstring injury that knocked him out for five weeks, Tatis Jr. might be right with Alonso at No. 1. The supremely talented 20-year-old is batting .327/.398/.583, is on pace for a 20-home run, 20-stolen base season and has been a human highlight reel on the basepaths and on defense at shortstop. The games lost to injury hurt, but if Alonso hits a slump, Tatis has the talent to run him down.
3. Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves
Soroka leads all rookie starters in wins (8), ERA (2.07) and opponent average (.201) to solidify himself as the best rookie hurler when he’s been on the mound. What bears watching is his health. Soroka was hit by a pitch in his right forearm while batting in his last game, but he is set to make his next scheduled start Friday.
Coming On Strong
Hudson got off to a rocky beginning with a 5.62 ERA in his first six appearances, but since then he has a 2.48 ERA in his last 10 starts and has emerged as the Cardinals’ most effective starting pitcher. Riley has continued to mash since his May 15 callup and ranks third among NL rookies with 12 home runs despite playing only 39 games. Reynolds leads all rookies with a .362 batting average and .418 slugging percentage, and his .564 slugging percentage ranks fourth.
Don’t Forget About
Paddack has a 5.40 ERA in his last six starts after logging a 1.55 ERA in his first seven and is now pitching irregularly as his innings become managed. His 3.18 ERA still ranks second among NL rookie starters behind Soroka and his 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings is best among NL rookies with at least seven starts. Verdugo still ranks in the top three among NL rookies in hits, doubles, triples and batting average. Altogether he has a .300/.350/.481 slash line while playing an above-average center field for the winningest team in baseball.
Kevin Newman, SS, Pirates
Newman trails only Reynolds and Tatis in batting average (.326) and on-base percentage (.376) among NL rookies and is hitting for impact with a .453 slugging percentage in 52 games. He has cemented himself as the Pirates’ everyday shortstop and a part of their future moving forward.
Merrill Kelly, RHP, D-backs
Kelly was inconsistent early, but he has turned in a 2.36 ERA in June and is rounding into form. He has limited batters to a .192/.217/.336 slash line during the month and has become the reliable No. 3 starter the D-backs needed behind Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray.