2021 MLB Rookie Of The Year Watch 5.0
Below is the latest edition of our monthly Rookie of the Year stock watch for the 2021 season. 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 updated through Aug. 31
1. Jonathan India, 2B, Reds
Stats: .270/.381/.485, 23 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 17 HRs, 59 RBIs, 9 SBs, 3.0 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR.
It sure feels like the National League race is coming down to hitter versus pitcher. India did not show the same on-base ability in August as he has for most of the season, but he countered that by hitting a season-best seven home runs last month. The sustainability of India’s impressive season stands out. His ability to work counts and rarely chase pitches out of the strike zone make him a consistently tough at-bat for pitchers. It’s notable that India has not been really helped by playing at Great American Ball Park. He’s hitting .258/.357/.415 at home and .282/.406/.495 on the road.
2. Trevor Rogers, RHP, Marlins
Stats: 7-6, 2.45, 20 GS, 110 IP, 84 H, 5 HR, 40 BB, 129 SO, 3.1 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR.
If you want to find the reason for Rogers’ success, you can point to the movement and deception of his changeup or you could focus on how well his fastball and changeup play together. Or you can just focus on how well he commands both pitches as well as his slider. Rogers very rarely leaves a pitch in a spot he doesn’t want to throw it. He’s thrown 444 changeups this year. Four of those 444 changeups have ended up high and glove side in the strike zone. He’s thrown 256 sliders this year. Only 21 of them have ended up high and glove side in the strike zone. If you wonder why he’s allowed only 11 extra-base hits (10 doubles, one home run) on his changeup and slider this year, that’s the explanation.
3. Tyler Stephenson, C, Reds
Stats: .285/.371/.441, 17 2Bs, 9 HRs, 40 RBIs, 35 BB, 61 SO, 2.0 bWAR, 1.8 fWAR
Among all MLB catchers with 250-plus plate appearances, Stephenson’s .370 on-base percentage ranks fifth. His .285 batting average ranks third. It’s hard to find catchers who can hit, and Stephenson can, which gives the Reds a solid shot to have two of the top three rookies in the National League.
On The Cusp
You could make the argument that Patrick Wisdom could slide into No. 3 on the list, but Wisdom’s combination of big power and even bigger strikeout rates leave us more skeptical about his ability to keep this up through September. Wisdom’s 25 home runs are tied with Ryan Mountcastle for second most among rookies behind Adolis Garcia’s 29. Wisdom’s 39.9% strikeout rate is the highest of all MLB players with 250 or more plate appearances . . . Anderson’s back after missing much of July and almost all of August. He’s been excellent when healthy, and his first start back was more of the same with 5.2 scoreless innings of work.
Dylan Carlson, OF, Cardinals
It’s probably too little too late, but Carlson’s August (.313/.400/.485) is his best month of work this year and a hopeful indicator of what may be to come for the Cardinals rookie.
1. Luis Garcia, RHP, Astros
Stats: 10-5, 3.23, 25 G, 23 GS, 128.1 IP, 103 H, 16 HR, 39 BB, 150 SO, 2.5 bWAR, 2.8 fWAR
Garcia entered the season on the outside of the Astros’ projected rotation and even made a pair of relief appearances in April. Those days seem like a distant memory for a pitcher who leads Houston’s primary starters with a 3.42 FIP in 128.1 innings and trails only Lance McCullers Jr. with 2.5 WAR. Garcia has staying power because he generates a ton of swings and misses in the zone and has the immaculate peripherals to prove it.
2. Shane McClanahan, LHP, Rays
Stats: 9-4, 3.59, 20 G, 20 GS, 100.1 IP, 98 H, 12 HR, 31 BB, 117 SO, 1.1 bWAR, 2.0 fWAR
McClanahan barely snuck onto the BA preseason Top 100 Prospects, and it’s a good thing he made the cut. No rookie starter with 50 innings has generated a higher rate of swinging strikes than McClanahan, who also has the highest average fastball velocity among that subset of pitchers. He has pitched to a 3.59 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 100.1 innings.
3. Adolis Garcia, OF, Rangers
Stats: .250/.297/.489 21 2Bs, 2 3B, 29 HRs, 77 RBIs, 28 BB, 158 SO, 9 SB, 3.6 bWAR, 3.1 fWAR.
The 28-year-old Cuban electrified observers by hitting 11 homers in May during his first extended look in the big leagues. He has hit just 13 homers since then as the book on him has circulated. Garcia adds a lot of value with his glove and arm, but few big league hitters chase out of the zone more frequently, which has contributed to Garcia’s .282 on-base percentage since June 1.
On The Cusp
Arozarena’s offensive contributions are the equal of Garcia, but he’s not the defender Garcia is, so that gives Garcia an edge . . . Mountcastle is finishing strong. His eight home runs last month were second best among rookies (Wisdom had nine). And he’s got a shot to reach 30 home runs for the year as he enters September with 25.
Wander Franco, SS, Rays
The 20-year-old entered September on a 31-game on-base streak, during which he was hitting .314/.385/.504 with 15 extra-base hits, 12 walks and 13 strikeouts. Another month similar to his August will spice up Rookie of the Year talk given Franco’s prospect pedigree and the fact he is the youngest player in MLB.