Here’s how our writers voted for ROY and why

November 12th, 2019

Major League Baseball’s premier postseason awards will be distributed this week as the Baseball Writers’ Association of America unveils its league winners for Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Player. The announcements kicked off on Monday with (HOU) and (NYM) taking home Rookie of the Year honors.

Winners for these four awards are determined through a vote of eligible BBWAA members, all of whom are required to submit their ballots prior to the postseason. Each local chapter chooses two members to vote for an award, which results in there being 30 ballots cast for American League candidates and another 30 for National League ones. The ballots for Rookie of the Year honors include a first-, second- and third-place choice.

Here were the top 3 finishers in both leagues:

National League
1) Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets
2) Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves
3) Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres

American League

  1. Yordan Alvarez, DH, Astros
  2. John Means, LHP, Orioles
  3. Brandon Lowe, 2B, Rays

The pool of voters included reporters, and each day this week, we’ll peel back the curtain to show you how our voters lined up their ballots and what led them to those respective decisions. Here, in their own words, are the explanations from those who voted for the Rookie of the Year Award.


Voter: Jesse Sanchez, national correspondent

BBWAA Chapter: Arizona

Ballot: Pete Alonso – Mike Soroka – Bryan Reynolds

We are very likely talking about one of the closest NL Rookie of the Year voting races in history if Fernando Tatis Jr. did not get hurt. But he did, and in the end, by playing only 84 games he opened the door for other candidates. Alonso sealed the deal with an outstanding final two months of a historic rookie campaign. Soroka probably wins the award in any other year, and he should be recognized for an outstanding rookie season in Atlanta. He’s a big reason the Braves made it to the playoffs, and his contributions cannot be overlooked. Reynolds might be the least known of the candidates, but he had a year to remember in Pittsburgh, and the Pirates are in good shape with him in the lineup in the future.

Voter: Todd Zolecki, beat reporter

BBWAA Chapter: Philadelphia

Ballot: Pete Alonso – Mike Soroka – Fernando Tatis Jr.

This might have been my easiest ballot in any category in a few years. How can you not pick the rookie with 50-plus home runs, 100-plus RBIs and 100-plus runs scored? Alonso’s rookie season will be referenced the next time and anytime a rookie is having a monster season. A season like Alonso’s deserves the first-place vote.

Soroka did not get as much attention as he deserved because of Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr., but where would the Braves be without him? Tatis has spent a lot of time on the injured list, but there is no question that he is going to be a superstar. It doesn’t matter to me that other rookies might have played more than him this season. He has made an impact.

Voter: Maria Guardado, beat reporter

BBWAA Chapter: San Francisco/Oakland

Ballot: Pete Alonso – Mike Soroka – Fernando Tatis Jr.

Going with Alonso was a pretty easy call for me. He emerged as the most consistent everyday player in a class of promising newcomers, crushing 53 home runs to break Aaron Judge’s rookie home run record while appearing in 161 games for the Mets this year. Soroka, meanwhile, posted a 2.68 ERA over 174 2/3 innings and showed an impressive ability to limit home runs. His rate of home runs allowed per nine innings (0.72) was the second-lowest in the Majors among qualified starters, behind only Charlie Morton -- no easy feat considering the way the ball was carrying this season.

Tatis would have likely placed higher if a stress reaction in his back hadn’t cut short his season. But his offensive rate stats, dynamic defense at shortstop and savvy baserunning still compelled me to give him the third-place spot over Bryan Reynolds.


Voter: Bill Ladson, reporter

BBWAA Chapter: Baltimore/Washington

Ballot: Yordan Alvarez – Eloy Jiménez – Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

White Sox outfielder Eloy Jiménez and Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. received most of the publicity at the start of the regular season because of the huge impact they were expected to make for their respective teams. But when it came to voting for the American League Rookie of the Year, I came to the conclusion that Astros DH Yordan Alvarez had the better season. He was my No. 1 pick followed by Jiménez and Guerrero.

Alvarez was one of the reasons the Astros won the AL West title by 10 games. Amazingly, Alvarez didn’t join the big league club until June 9, but when the regular season ended, he had a slash line of .313/.412/.655. Alvarez’s 3.7 bWAR ranked seventh on the team. I didn’t mention that he had 27 home runs and drove in 78 runs in 87 games. Don’t forget that he also had 53 extra-base hits. Jiménez and Guerrero also supplied power, but it was a no-brainer that Alvarez deserved the Rookie of the Year Award.

Voter: Alyson Footer, national correspondent

BBWAA Chapter: Houston

Ballot: Yordan Alvarez – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Eloy Jiménez

This one wasn't close. Yordan Alvarez arrived on the scene a little later -- early June -- than most Rookie of the Year candidates, but what he did during his time in the big leagues is unmatched by any rookie in history. Twenty-seven homers and 78 RBIs in 87 games and a 1.067 OPS? Unprecedented. My second pick was Vladimir Guerrero Jr., followed by Eloy Jiménez.

Do-Hyoung Park, beat reporter

BBWAA Chapter: Minneapolis/St. Paul

Ballot: Yordan Alvarez – John Means – Luis Arraez

There was little doubt in my mind that the top spot belonged to Alvarez, so the majority of my thought went into the second and third spots on the ballot. Means stood out above all of the rookie hitters not only for his success according to both traditional metrics (3.60 ERA) and advanced metrics (131 ERA+, 4.5 bWAR, 3.0 fWAR), but more so because of his ability to sustain that success through the workload of a full season of 31 games (27 starts). Other candidates played partial seasons due to either roster considerations or injury.

In narrowing down the field of hitters, I considered both the accumulation of raw stats and the quality of rate stats, settling on Arraez and Tampa Bay's Brandon Lowe as my candidates for third place. With advanced metrics showing a dead heat between Arraez (125 wRC+, .360 wOBA) and Lowe (125 wRC+, .354 wOBA), I gave the advantage to Arraez despite his lack of slugging due to his rather extreme advantage in both batting average and on-base percentage, the latter of which also correlates strongly to run production. It's also tough to ignore Arraez's 109 hits in an abbreviated season. And with all due respect to Lowe, hitting for slug while striking out a lot is rather in vogue right now, whereas Arraez's ability to generate similar production in such a strikingly unique way also holds merit in my mind. I was at 127 regular-season Twins games this year and would stop what I was doing to watch every Arraez plate appearance -- with very few exceptions.

Voter: Chris Haft, reporter

BBWAA Chapter: San Francisco/Oakland

Ballot: Yordan Alvarez – Luis Arraez – Eloy Jiménez

A look at the traditional offensive statistics showed that Alvarez was leading or ranked among the leagues’ top five rookies in virtually every major offensive category. Spending most of his time in a DH role -- Alvarez played 10 of his 87 games in left field -- wasn’t enough to negate his superiority over his competitors. One last stat I checked was OPS+. It backed up my Alvarez-Arraez-Jiménez ticket.

Over the long haul, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. might blow away all these guys. But he simply couldn’t match the other three for overall production.

Voter: Daniel Kramer, reporter/producer

BBWAA Chapter: Seattle

Ballot: Yordan Alvarez – John Means -- Luis Arraez

Even though his contributions were exclusively with his bat, Alvarez was a no-brainer. His 1.067 OPS since debuting was tied for second-best in the AL (with MVP favorites Mike Trout and Alex Bregman), his 178 wRC+ trailed only Bregman in that stretch and his 3.8 fWAR -- accumulated exclusively on offense -- was sixth-best. Put simply, Alvarez was one of the league’s best hitters, regardless of rookie status. I also considered that Alvarez was injected to an Astros lineup without George Springer, José Altuve and Carlos Correa at the time of his debut and helped Houston maintain elite offensive production. Alvarez also had better splits against plus-.500 teams than those under-.500.

Means deserved strong consideration given the context of his competitive environment. The O’s were only three games under .500 in games Means pitched and played .305 baseball with anyone else on the mound. He also had a 3.60 ERA in a division that houses a bevy of sluggers and hitter-friendly parks. He also paced all rookie pitchers with 3.0 fWAR and his .285 opponents’ OBP was sixth-best in the AL (min. 150 innings), and the five ahead of him were all All-Stars.

Arraez is just the second rookie since 2010 to finish with a higher walk rate (9.8%) than strikeout rate (7.9%), which -- given the trajectory of the game in that stretch, with a proliferation of strikeouts and more specialized pitching -- deserved merit. Arraez hit just four homers, but he made up for it with his .399 OBP, which ranked behind only Alvarez, Aaron Judge and Juan Soto for rookie seasons in that stretch and tied Trout (2012) for 13th-best among rookies since the mound was lowered in 1969.