National League Rookie of the Year update

At the beginning of the season, the National League Rookie of the Year race looked like a two-man race between Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Joc Pederson, but not anymore.

Since the All-Star break, Pederson is hitting .196/.341/.329 with 5 homers in 177 plate appearances after slashing .230/.364/.487 in 366 plate appearances in the first half. His fWAR is currently at 3.0. He’ll get some votes, but there’s little chance he wins.

Meanwhile, Bryant has skyrocketed to the top of the fWAR rookie leaderboards (5.3) in front of Matt Duffy (4.1) and Jung Ho Kang (4.0). The Cubs’ phenom is loved by FanGraphs for his base running and also has a 131 wRC+, which tops all rookies with 400 plate appearances. He has a fine 11.8 BB%, but a dismal 31.3 K% and plays third base slightly worse than Duffy per FanGraphs defensive metrics. This moonshot probably earned Bryant a couple more percentage points:

Duffy, 24, was trying to win a utility spot on the San Francisco Giants in spring training and has done much more than that after taking over at third base in May. He is hitting .304/.341/.438 with 2 base runs, wRC+ of 120, and a 7.1 defensive value. His walk rate is below 5%, but he makes up for it by striking out just 15.6% of the time. He also has a balanced spray chart: 31.4% pull, 34.9% center, 33.7% oppo. These are the kind of hits he continues to get:

Kang, 28, signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates out of South Korea in the offseason and has found a home at third base. He is hitting .288/.357/.464 with 3.2 base runs and a wRC+ of 130 wRC+. FanGraphs has his season valued at over $32MM and he signed a four year, $11MM deal. Kang has major league power and he showed on this swing of the bat:

Baseball Reference WAR has all three players separated by 0.2 and Baseball Prospectus’ WARP gives a 1.2 edge to Bryant over Kang and Duffy.

Right now it looks like Bryant will run away with the votes and deserve it, but Duffy and Kang are both having outstanding rookie seasons.

Honorable mentions:

Kyle Schwarber only has 213 plate appearances, but has 16 homers while hitting .255/.352/.554 with a 145 wRC+, and 1.8 fWAR. If he was up the entire year the Cubs might have had the top two rookies on their squad.

Michael Conforto has killed the baseball since being called up by the New York Mets, hitting .297/.378/.547, 156 wRC+, and a 1.9 fWAR in just 148 plate appearances. It looks like the Metropolitans have found their left fielder of the future.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Rule-5 pick Odubel Herrera has also impressed this season, hitting .296/.336/.422 with a 108 wRC+, and a 3.0 fWAR in 484 plate appearances.

Noah Syndergaard of the Mets has mesmerized the baseball world as Thor since being called up. He is posting a 3.20 ERA, 3.28 FIP in 129.1 innings pitched. He has a 4.57 K/BB ratio with a 2.7 fWAR.

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