Gleyber Torres Leads The Way
The 2018 season is roughly half-way through completion. With that in mind, let’s take a look at who I believe should be the American League Rookie of the Year winner. All statistics are entering play on Saturday.
Gleyber Torres – .294/.350/.555, 15 HR, 42 RBI in 63 games
Shohei Ohtani – .278/.359/.508, 6 HR, 20 RBI in 38 games – 4-1, 3.10 ERA, 11.1 K/9 in 49.1 IP
Miguel Andujar – .282/.311/.507, 12 HR, 38 RBI in 74 games
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Torres is the clear-cut favorite. The 21-year old second baseman didn’t make his season debut until April 22, but has since amazed fans with his energetic plays and youthful exuberance. He leads all American League rookies in home runs (15) and RBI (42). His .905 OPS is on pace to be the best ever by a second baseman in his first season in the major leagues—this is with a minimum 70 percent of games played at second base and at least 225 plate appearances in a season.
Also, here’s something interesting about Torres. There have been just two players in Yankee history to hit more home runs than Torres in an age-21 season or younger—Hall of Famers, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. DiMaggio hit 29 home runs in his age-21 season during the 1936 campaign. Mantle hit 23 home runs during his age-20 season in 1952 and 21 home runs during his age-21 season in 1953.
Granted, Torres is on the 10-day DL due to a hip injury, but there’s no doubt he’ll continue to hit well upon his return.
Now, many of you are probably wondering why I have Shohei Ohtani second on this list. The hype surrounding the 23-year old, two-way rookie, has been extraordinary. At the beginning of the season—honestly even through early June—he would’ve been my choice for AL Rookie of the Year. However, an elbow injury in early June forced Ohtani to the DL. He may not pitch again this season, though he’s returned to the Angels’ lineup as the designated hitter. Los Angeles is expected to reevaluate him again in a few weeks to determine whether he can begin a throwing program.
Ohtani was a great pitcher this season, striking out 61 batters in 49-and-a-third innings—thanks in part to a great four-seamer. He last appeared on June 6.
Average Four-Seam Fastball Velocity Leaders – Among Starting Pitchers—entering play on June 7
(This leaderboard is based on a minimum 300 four-seam fastballs thrown).
He even threw seven pitches at 100 miles per hour or better this season. That’s still second in the majors to Luis Severino, who has nine.
Ohtani isn’t too shabby at the plate either. He’s posted an .867 OPS in 38 games this season. That’s the sixteenth-best in the majors among 165 batters with at least 125 appearances. That’s a good season for a hitter. It’s a great season for a hitter, who also pitches.
However, missing nearly a month cost him in my book. Right now, Torres has still produced the better season. Maybe that changes in the second half. It depends how long Torres remains on the DL. It’s also contingent on whether Ohtani returns as a pitcher. If Ohtani is able to resume throwing, does that mean he’ll have to go on the DL while he rehabs? He’ll have to work on his arm, which means less time at the plate.
Don’t get me wrong. Ohtani’s had a spectacular first half. If he stayed healthy, then I probably choose him. But a month is a long time to be idle, especially in baseball.
Andujar isn’t Torres or Ohtani, but has already proved himself a capable hitter at the major league level. The 23-year old third baseman was just named the American League Rookie of the Month for June, thanks in part to a .560 slugging percentage, seven home runs, and 20 RBI in 25 games.
Andjuar leads all major league rookies with 24 doubles. His 38 RBI are fourth among MLB rookies and are second in the American League to his teammate, Torres. Andujar on pace for 45 doubles and 23 home runs this season. There have been just six players in Yankee history to finish a season with at least 45 doubles and 20 home runs—Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Don Mattingly, Alfonso Soriano, Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano.