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#pounditSunday, October 17, 2021

Top 10 MLB Rookie of the Year candidates

Shohei Ohtani

AMERICAN LEAGUE

5) Daniel Palka, White Sox

It’s a rather shallow field in the American League this year, and Palka isn’t a serious contender for the award. He has, however, had a decent rookie season, hitting 18 home runs with a .468 slugging percentage for the Chicago White Sox. He’s a strikeout-prone power hitter who doesn’t walk much, but he does have the ability to go yard. That’s probably enough to cement him as one of the top five or so AL rookies.

4) Joey Wendle, Rays

Wendle has actually been around for a while. The 28-year-old had brief stints in the big leagues with the Oakland A’s in each of the previous two seasons, but he found a home in Tampa, where he’s become a valuable utility man. A versatile player who’s hitting .289 with a .762 OPS, Wendle has managed to retain his rookie eligibility, so he’ll get a few votes, even if he is unlikely to receive serious consideration for the award.

3) Gleyber Torres, Yankees

Torres got off to a strong start to his Major League career, hitting over .300 by the end of May and looking like the frontrunner for the award. His second half has not been as good, and he’s hitting under .200 in August, which might wipe out his chances of winning. Still, his season has been impressive. The 21-year-old has 18 home runs and a .482 slugging percentage. He looks like a star of the future once he gets used to the grind of a full season and becomes more consistent.

2) Shohei Ohtani, Angels

Had Ohtani stayed fully healthy, he’d have likely won this award. Unfortunately, an elbow issue derailed his pitching after nine starts. He may yet return to the mound before the season is over, but it might be too late to make any meaningful difference. It shouldn’t obscure what he’s been able to do this season, though. He has 13 home runs, is slugging .523, and posted a 3.10 ERA in his nine starts. It’s just a shame his elbow couldn’t hold up for him.

1) Miguel Andujar, Yankees

Andujar has begun to separate himself from the pack in the American League with his consistent excellence. He comfortably leads all rookies in RBIs, and no American League rookie has more home runs than he does. He has a legitimate chance of hitting .300, and plays a solid third base. Moreover, he does it all for a contending team, which will probably get him some bonus points from award voters. At this point, the award looks like Andujar’s to lose.

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