Below is the eighth edition of our weekly Rookie of the Year stock watch. Please note this is not a re-ranking of the BA Top 100 prospects or BA’s preseason rookie rankings, but rather a snapshot of where the Rookie of the Year races stand at various points in time throughout the season.
All statistics are through Sept. 16.
1. Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners
Barring a slump, Lewis will be the American League rookie of the year and it will be by a fairly secure margin. Lewis now leads Luis Robert by 47 points in batting average, 76 points in on-base percentage and 71 points in OPS with 10 days to go in the regular season. Overall he is batting .298/.390/.491 with 10 home runs and 27 RBI. What’s more, after a season of highlight-reel catches in center field, Lewis made his best one yet last week—a grand slam-robbing, leaping catch at the wall—to give him a signature moment of the season.
2. Luis Robert, OF, White Sox
The league has adjusted to Robert, and he’s running out of time to adjust back. After a hot finish to August, Robert is batting .130 with one home run and 39 percent strikeout rate in September. His .251/.314/.497 overall slash line remains respectable, but he needs a major reversal in the final 10 days of the season to close the 71-point OPS gap with Lewis.
3. Cristian Javier, RHP, Astros
Javier continues to outpitch others with a loftier prospect pedigree and is getting stronger as the year goes on, logging a 1.98 ERA in his last three appearances. Javier has the lowest WHIP (0.96) and opponent average (.163) of any rookie with at least 36 innings pitched and overall is 4-2, 3.22 on the year—the lowest ERA of any qualified rookie starter in the AL.
Dane Dunning, RHP, White Sox
Dunning has been a revelation since his major league debut Aug. 19. In his first season back from Tommy John surgery, Dunning is 2-0, 2.33 in five starts with 28 strikeouts and nine walks in 27 innings. He shut down the high-powered Twins offense with seven sharp innings in his most recent start, and is making a strong case to be part of the White Sox’s playoff rotation.
Jared Walsh, 1B, Angels
Walsh supplanted Albert Pujols as the Angels starter at first base and has seized the job for both the present and future. The former 39th-round pick led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with a 1.109 OPS last season and is continuing to crush the ball in the majors with four doubles, a triple and seven home runs in only 22 games. He is tied for third among all rookies in home runs despite not starting to play every day until Aug. 31.
1. Jake Cronenworth, 2B/1B, Padres
Cronenworth continues to have the highest OPS (.900) of all rookies—in either league—with at least 100 at-bats. He’s hit a bit of slump, going 5-for-26 in his last nine games, but his total body of work offensively and defensively still makes him the favorite in the National League going into the final 10 days of the season.
2. Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers
The peripherals aren’t sexy, but May just keeps getting the job done. The lanky righthander leads all NL rookies in innings pitched (47) and has the lowest ERA (2.48) of any rookie, in either league, who has thrown at least 36 innings. His 53.9 percent ground ball rate is ninth-highest in the majors, helping to mitigate his lack of strikeouts.
3. Devin Williams, RHP, Brewers
For a non-closing reliever to get votes over starting pitchers or everyday position players, they have to do something insane. What Williams has done this season certainly meets that definition. The Brewers setup man has allowed one run in 21 innings this season—a 0.43 ERA—and struck out 43 of the 81 batters he’s faced. That 53.1 percent strikeout rate is the highest of any pitcher in the majors this season with at least 10 innings pitched.
Kwang-Hyun Kim, LHP, Cardinals
A decorated starter in South Korea, Kim ascended to the Cardinals rotation Aug. 17 and has been one of MLB’s most dominant starters since. He’s allowed only one earned run in 27.2 innings as a starter, and that one run came in his first outing. He’s currently on a 24 inning scoreless streak, including seven shutout innings his most recent start after returning from the injured list with a kidney issue.
Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates
Hayes continues to be a ray of light in an otherwise miserable season for the Pirates. The rookie third baseman has hit .304 with an .825 OPS since he was called up and has already ascended to the No. 2 spot in the Pirates order. Though it’s too late for him to do much in this year’s rookie of the year race, he is on track to still be rookie-eligible next season and has shown he should be a top contender.