Carlson finishes third in NL ROY voting

November 16th, 2021

There was little his teammates, his coaches and his onlookers felt Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson needed to prove this season. He took on leadoff duties for a stretch and he hit in every batting order position but one. Carlson played all three outfield positions by necessity, and he performed admirably in each. He played a full 162-game slate at just 22 years of age -- and turned heads while doing so.

No, Carlson’s solid full entrance to the big league stage did not end in the National League Rookie of the Year Award, as many hoped for him. That honor went to Jonathan India of the Reds, a young Cardinal-killer in his own right, as announced on MLB Network on Monday evening. But Carlson provided more than a glimpse into what the franchise hopes will make him a cornerstone for years to come.

Carlson faced stiff competition and finished third in voting for NL Rookie of the Year with 22 total points, as unveiled by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, falling 126 voting points behind India in first place and 64 points behind Marlins lefty Trevor Rogers in second. Whereas Carlson slashed .266/.343/.437 with a 2.8 fWAR, India slashed .269/.376/.459 and led all rookies with a 3.9 fWAR. Rogers pitched to a 2.64 ERA and a 7-8 record in 25 starts for the Marlins, leading all rookie pitchers with a 4.2 fWAR.

The Cardinals are without a Rookie of the Year winner since Albert Pujols won in 2001.

But Carlson’s season can still be measured in the signals it provided to his club going forward. He was a Swiss Army Knife, taking on all three outfield spots when Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill each battled injuries, and he made highlight-reel plays in each. A switch-hitter, Carlson provided an important left-handed-hitting option with an innate ability for controlling the strike zone. When Carlson was moved to the leadoff spot in June, he was among the tops in the Majors in pitches seen.

Carlson also made history, tallying a pair of multihomer games. The pair of long balls in each effort came from opposite sides of the plate and he became the first rookie in AL/NL history to do so multiple times in one season.

What’s more, Carlson began to find his voice off the field. Hours before the Rookie of the Year announcement on Monday, Carlson spent the morning partnered with UnitedHealthcare to distribute $15,000 worth of coats to children at Hickey Elementary School in St. Louis.