The American and National League MVP and Cy Young Award winners have just a few weeks left to polish off their resumes, but don’t forget about the Rookie of the Year candidates. Some special careers may be blooming right before our eyes, and we checked in one last time with a panel of MLB.com experts before the season finale to see which rook has impressed the most.
Panel voters were asked to rank their top three AL and NL Rookie of the Year candidates. Players were assigned a point total on a 5-3-1 scale (5 points for a first-place vote, 3 for a second-place vote, 1 for a third-place vote). At this stage, the NL frontrunner is clear, but there appears to be a two-freshmen race over in the Junior Circuit.
Here are the full results.
1) Adolis García, OF, Rangers (27 first-place votes)
García hasn’t had the most consistent season in getting on base, but it’s hard to ignore his overall body of work. The Ciego de Avila, Cuba, native leads all rookies with 29 home runs and 77 RBIs, and a 30th dinger would tie Pete Incaviglia (1986) for the Rangers’ franchise rookie record.
It’s more than García’s power that has him here in the top spot. He entered Friday with 12 outfield assists, trailing only Hunter Renfroe among all big leaguers, and his 9 Outs Above Average (per Statcast) rank him among the 10 best outfield defenders in 2021.
2) Randy Arozarena, OF, Rays (23 first-place votes)
Arozarena was far and away MLB’s hottest hitter just 11 months ago when he set postseason records with 10 homers and 29 total hits. His bat cooled off over the winter and into the first months of 2021, but he’s been one of MLB’s best second-half hitters, entering Friday hitting .318/.393/.589 with eight homers since the break. Arozarena also entered Friday leading AL rookies in hits (120), doubles (24) and walks (45).
3) Luis Garcia, RHP, Astros (10 first-place votes)
The Astros didn’t enter 2021 with the name-brand rotation to which fans grew accustomed, but Garcia’s rise has helped Houston gain the inside track to the AL West title. Garcia lulls hitters to sleep with his stylish, multistep, dance-floor windup, and then frustrates them with a big arsenal of pitches; his cutter, slider, changeup and curveball have all held hitters to a sub-.200 average, and each of them are carrying elite whiff-per-swing rates of at least 39%. Garcia entered Friday leading AL rookie pitchers in fWAR (2.8) and was tied for first in wins (10) and strikeouts (150). Opponents have hit just .214 against Garcia dating back to his MLB debut last year.
4) Ryan Mountcastle, 1B/OF/DH, Orioles (2 first-place votes)
Mountcastle entered Friday right behind Adolis García in homers (25) and RBIs (74) among AL rookies after a red-hot month of August that saw him hit .357/.397/.786 with eight homers, six doubles and 16 RBIs. He leads the Orioles in homers and RBIs since the All-Star break, and he’s just three dingers away from tying Cal Ripken Jr. (28 in 1982) for Baltimore’s rookie franchise record.
5) Wander Franco, SS, Rays (1 first-place vote)
Sure, Franco has appeared in fewer than 60 games, but those appearances have been so impressive that he might snag some first-place votes on the actual AL Rookie of the Year ballot. At just 20 (!) years of age, Franco owns MLB’s longest active on-base streak at 33 games, putting him in company with Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Arky Vaughn and Mel Ott for the longest on-base streaks by any 20-or-younger player in AL/NL history. Franco entered Friday having struck out just 34 times across his first 245 career plate appearances, and his 49 hits, 35 runs and 28 RBIs since the All-Star break paced all AL rookies.
Others receiving votes: Emmanuel Clase, Cole Irvin, James Kaprielian, Alek Manoah, Shane McClanahan (1 first-place vote), Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Andrew Vaughn, Garrett Whitlock
1) Jonathan India, 2B, Reds (46 first-place votes)
No rookie has come close to India at setting the table, as Cincinnati has found another young hitter who, just like Joey Votto, has a superb sense of the strike zone. India entered Friday with a .381 OBP that would be the best by any rookie in a 500-plate appearance season since José Abreu (.383) in 2014, and he is legitimately challenging Tony Cuccinello (.380) for the highest OBP by any qualified Reds rookie since 1930. India does more than simply draw walks; he also entered Friday leading NL rookies in RBIs (59) and extra-base hits (43).
2) Trevor Rogers, LHP, Marlins (13 first-place votes)
Rogers is just making his way back from a month-plus stint on the family medical emergency, bereavement and restricted lists, but his resume through July was still strong enough to land him in the No. 2 spot here. The lefty’s 2.45 ERA still leads all qualified rookie starting pitchers, and he entered Friday still ranked third among freshmen with 129 strikeouts, even with all that missed time. Eighty-two of those 129 punchouts have come off Rogers’ four-seam fastball, putting him among MLB’s top 10 pitchers in four-seamer K’s.
3) Patrick Wisdom, 3B, Cubs (3 first-place votes)
The biggest bright spot on the North Side after so many Cubs stars departed at the Trade Deadline, the 30-year-old Wisdom is looking like a true diamond-in-the-rough find. Wisdom became the first rookie in Cubs history to put up back-to-back multihomer games last weekend against the White Sox, and he’s now just one dinger away from tying Kris Bryant’s franchise rookie record. Wisdom entered Friday leading NL rookies in both homers and OPS (min 250 PA).
4) Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves (2 first-place votes)
Anderson hasn’t been quite as dominant as he was in the 2020 postseason, though he set an impossible bar with only two earned runs allowed in those 18 2/3 October innings. Still, Anderson has been a quality contributor to Atlanta’s first-place rotation, pitching to a 3.36 ERA and only allowing nine homers and a .344 opponent slugging percentage across 101 2/3 frames. Batters are still trying to figure out Anderson’s changeup, batting .194 and slugging only .295 against the righty’s signature pitch.
Others receiving votes: David Bednar, Dylan Carlson, Jazz Chisholm Jr., Ke’Bryan Hayes, Tyler Stephenson