There shouldn’t be any surprises in this year’s Rookie of the Year voting. Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros and Pete Alonso of the New York Mets are overwhelmingly likely to win their respective league awards when the MLB Network hands out the hardware Monday evening.
Based on their numbers, the biggest question isn’t whether Alvarez or Alonso will win – it’s whether or not they’ll win unanimously.
As MLB’s award season kicks off, TSN.ca takes a statistical look at the spectacular seasons turned in by Alvarez and Alonso before they likely walk away with this year’s top rookie awards.
He didn’t make his big-league debut until June 9 and only played 10 games in the outfield, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to matter. Alvarez’s bat spoke as loud as it could have over 87 games, tallying 27 home runs, 78 RBI and a slash line of .313/.412/.655.
He was named the American League Rookie of the Month in each of his first three months in the big leagues (June through August) and set a MLB record for OPS by a rookie in a single season (1.067) with at least 350 plate appearances. Had Alvarez qualified, he would have finished second to only Mike Trout (1.083) for the AL OPS lead.
Alvarez led AL rookies in extra-base hits with 53, on-base percentage at .412 and slugging percentage at .655. According to BaseballSavant, 49 per cent of his contact was registered at 95 miles per hour or higher. The 22-year-old proved he could handle both right and left-handers as well, hitting .317 against righties and .307 against southpaws.
In all likelihood, he will become Houston’s third AL rookie winner, joining Carlos Correa (2015) and Jeff Bagwell (1991).
Other AL nominees: John Means (P, Baltimore Orioles), Brandon Lowe (INF, OF, Tampa Bay Rays)
When Aaron Judge hammered 52 home runs as a rookie for the New York Yankees in 2017, it seemed like it would be an impossible record to break. Pete Alonso didn’t care.
The hulking first baseman set a new rookie mark with 53 long balls on his way to an incredible rookie season that – like Alvarez – has him as the heavy favourite to take home his league’s Rookie of the Year Award.
Home run total aside, Alonso slashed .260/.358/.583 with 120 RBIs in 161 games for the New York Mets. He led all rookies in games played, RBIs, runs and WAR. He also shattered the Mets’ single-season home run record, which was previously held by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltran at 41. Alonso was fourth across baseball in RBIs and second to only Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (121) for the NL lead.
Alonso’s ascension to superstardom didn’t come easy as the 24-year-old barely made the team out of spring training and wasn’t expected to play an everyday role right out of the gate. It’s no surprise he quickly became a mainstay in the lineup once his power numbers from the minor leagues not only translated to the majors, but vastly improved.
He is almost sure to become the Mets’ sixth ROY winner, joining Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983), Dwight Gooden (1984) and Jacob deGrom (2014).
Other NL nominees: Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, San Diego Padres), Mike Soroka (SP, Atlanta Braves)
Comparing two star rookies
Honourable mention: Mike Soroka
No, the Calgary native might not win the Rookie of the Year Award, but he did turn heads and lead the Atlanta Braves to their second straight division title.
Soroka went 13-4 in 29 starts last season to go along with an ERA of 2.68 and a WHIP of 1.11. The 22-year-old was named to the All-Star Team and led the league by allowing just 0.7 homers per nine innings in an era where the home run is becoming increasingly common.
Combined with his five starts from the 2018 season, Soroka is now 15-5 with a 2.79 ERA through 200.1 innings to begin his big league career. At just 22 years old, that’s quite the foundation to build on.