With roughly two months of the regular season remaining, the Rookie of the Year races in MLB’s two leagues couldn’t be more different.
The race is on in the National League, with phenoms Jose Fernandez and Yasiel Puig having historically good seasons and numerous players battling for a top-five finish.
Meanwhile, in the American League, the award has been up for grabs for most of the season—well, at least until the arrival of Wil Myers, who has jumped up to the No. 1 spot in our latest Rookie of the Year stock watch.
American League Candidates
1. Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats: .329/.379/.533, 50 H, 7 2B, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 5 SB, 36/14 K/BB; .378 wOBA, 1.3 fWAR (39 G)
Stock: Way up
Wil Myers is quickly running away with the American League Rookie of the Year award.
The 22-year-old was solid in the two weeks following his debut on June 18, posting a .791 OPS with three home runs and a 14/1 K/BB ratio in 13 June games. But since the beginning of July, Myers has been one of the baseball’s hottest hitters. In 23 games last month, the right-handed hitter batted a robust .352/.406/.557 with 31 hits, 10 extra-base hits (four home runs), 18 RBI, five stolen bases and 21/10 K/BB ratio. And just for good measure, he added a walk-off knock to his résumé over the weekend.
However, what I find most impressive about Myers—beyond the sheer natural ability, obviously—is how his eyes light up with runners on base. Since arriving in the major leagues, he’s batted .359/.391/.641 with 25 RBI in 39 at-bats with runners in scoring position and has become a fixture in the heart of the Rays’ order. Furthermore, the team is 27-12 when Myers is in the lineup.
2. Jose Iglesias, IF, Detroit Tigers
2013 Stats: .323/.367/.412, 73 H, 14 XBH (2 HR), 21 RBI, 32/11 K/BB; .351 wOBA, 1.0 fWAR (66 G)
Iglesias was Boston’s savior over the first half of the season, playing excellent defense at multiple infield positions while batting .395/.453/.523 through his first 39 games. That is not bad coming from a player who wasn’t expected to hit.
However, the 23-year-old’s bat finally went cold in July, as he batted only .205/.247/.217 with one extra-base hit and a 12/2 K/BB ratio over the course of the month. And, as expected, after posting a .434 BABIP in June, Iglesias’ BABIP plummeted to .236 in July.
Iglesias was dealt to the Tigers as part of a three-team trade with the Red Sox and White Sox on July 30. He is 2-for-11 with a home run in three games with his new team.
3. Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats: 6-4, 2 SHO, 74.2 IP, 2.65 ERA, 1.085 WHIP, 51/28 K/BB; 145 ERA+, 0.6 fWAR (12 GS)
While Wil Myers has been tearing it up at the plate for the surging Tampa Bay Rays, right-hander Chris Archer has almost matched his teammate with his performance on the mound.
After a shaky month of June in which he registered a 4.40 ERA with a 25/18 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings, the 24-year-old was arguably baseball's top pitcher in July. In his five starts for the Rays, Archer was 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA, .140 BAA and 22/7 K/BB ratio in 37 innings. He also tossed a pair of complete-game shutouts (at home against the Astros on July 14; at Yankee Stadium on July 27).
Although he still worked seven innings in his start on Friday against San Francisco, the right-hander wasn’t at his best, allowing four earned runs on seven hits and three walks while fanning four. Of the 109 pitches he threw in the outing, only 68 were strikes.
4. Nick Franklin, 2B, Seattle Mariners
2013 Stats: .250/.314/.445, 13 2B, 10 HR, 22 RBI, 61/21 K/BB; .331 wOBA, 0.9 fWAR (57 G)
Franklin provided a noticeable spark to the Mariners’ offense when he was promoted to the major leagues in late May and deployed at second base over Dustin Ackley.
The 22-year-old wasted no time in making an impact, as he batted .296/.355/.449 with nine doubles, two home runs and a 17/9 K/BB ratio in 26 June games. But while he continued to showcase significant power during the subsequent month, the league collectively made adjustments against the switch-hitter. As a result, the second baseman batted only .234/.284/.468 with four doubles and six home runs in July to go along with an ugly 37/7 K/BB ratio.
Since his two-homer game against the Twins on July 28, Franklin has been ice cold with a .040 batting average (1-for-25) and 11 strikeouts over his last five contests.
5. Casey Fien, RHP, Minnesota Twins
2013 Stats: 2-2, 46.2 IP, 2.70 ERA, 0.836 WHIP, 53/8 K/BB; 153 ERA+, 1.3 fWAR (52 G)
Fien is not just one of the more underrated relievers in baseball, he’s also one of the more underrated rookies.
After an inconsistent start to the season—he registered a 4.00 ERA in April and 5.40 ERA in May—Fien has been absolutely dominant since the beginning of June.
How dominant? Well, he’s allowed only two earned runs over his last 24.1 innings while posting a ridiculously good 31/1 K/BB ratio.
Others (in no particular order): Yan Gomes, Jurickson Profar, Dan Straily, Cody Allen, Alex Torres, Nick Tepesch
National League Candidates
1. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats: 8-5, 127.2 IP, 2.54 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 138/43 K/BB; 153 ERA+, 2.9 fWAR (21 GS)
Let’s take a look back at the last week of Jose Fernandez’s life.
July 28: Fernandez holds the Pirates to two runs over eight innings and records a career-high 13 strikeouts without issuing a walk.
July 31: The right-hander celebrates his 21st birthday.
Aug. 2: Seemingly unsatisfied with his previous outing, Fernandez tosses eight shutout innings against the Indians and sets a new high-water mark with 14 strikeouts.
I mean, come on. That’s nuts, folks. Nuts.
2. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats: .376/.429/.600, 40 R, 11 HR, 7 SB, 54/15 K/BB; .442 wOBA, 3.2 fWAR (52 G)
Stock: Holding steady
Puig took baseball by storm upon his arrival on June 3, batting .436/.467/.713 with 44 hits and seven home runs over the next 26 games en route to NL Player of the Month honors.
Since then, the 22-year-old has only been only "good" rather than "stupid good." Puig’s production began to normalize in July, where he posted a .789 OPS—a huge drop-off compared to his 1.180 OPS in June—with 27 hits, three home runs and 31 strikeouts in 24 games. Just when it seemed as though he was headed for a lengthy slump, the outfielder has picked up the pace with a .405 batting average, three home runs and 10/7 K/BB ratio over his last 10 games.
Like Wil Myers, Puig has been the driving force behind his team’s recent success, as the Dodgers have posted a 36-17 record in the 53 games in which he’s played.
3. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats: 11-7, 121.1 IP, 2.89 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 132/35 K/BB; 128 ERA+, 2.3 fWAR (21 GS)
Miller was one of baseball’s top pitchers over the first two months of the season, registering a 2.02 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with a 65/16 K/BB ratio over 62.1 innings. However, the rookie right-hander struggled at times in July and ultimately allowed more earned runs (15) during the month than he did over his first 10 starts.
With 104.2 innings under his belt headed into the All-Star break, the Cardinals offered the 22-year-old additional rest with 13 days between starts. The team’s decision paid immediate dividends, as Miller has posted a 2.71 ERA with a 20/6 K/BB ratio in 16.2 innings spanning three starts.
4. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2013 Stats: 8-5, 131 IP, 3.02 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 117/28 K/BB; 128 ERA+, 1.9 fWAR (21 GS)
Following a dazzling performance during spring training that led to a spot in the Braves’ Opening Day starting rotation, Teheran was seemingly on the verge of a demotion with a 5.08 ERA after five April starts.
However, the 22-year-old quickly settled into the role since that time and has subsequently emerged as one of the top young hurlers in the game. Since the beginning of May, Teheran owns a stellar 2.46 ERA and 97/28 K/BB ratio in 102.2 innings.
The right-hander has been especially sharp as of late with a 1.00 ERA and 23/5 K/BB ratio over his last three starts.
5. Anthony Rendon, 2B, Washington Nationals
2013 Stats: .259/.309/.394, 14 2B, 5 HR, 42/17 K/BB; .300 wOBA, 0.3 fWAR (57 G)
After a brief, eight-game exposure with the Nationals in late April, Rendon was shifted across the infield from third to second base and was recalled to replace a struggling Danny Espinosa in early June. The 23-year-old responded favorably, to say the least, batting .330/.358/.473 with 12 runs scored and 11 extra-base hits over the next 22 games.
But Rendon’s bat cooled off in a big way as the calendar turned to July, resulting in a dismal .556 OPS with three home runs and 19 strikeouts over his next 24 contests. If the Nationals plan to make a run at the Braves over the next two months, then they are going to need him to regain his form of prior to the All-Star break.
Others (in no particular order): Gerrit Cole, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Matt Adams, Evan Gattis, Trevor Rosenthal, Zack Wheeler, Jedd Gyorko, Nolan Arenado