2019 is home to a lot of stellar rookies showcasing their talents and arguably the four best at this stage, are all in the National League.
The Padres’ Chris Paddack has been outstanding and has helped keep his team in the thick of the Wild Card race and so has Fernando Tatis Jr. despite injuries. Pete Alonso of the Mets has crushed monster homers to keep his injury-prone offense afloat. The Braves’ Mike Soroka has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball this season and nobody talks about it.
Then, there is Alex Verdugo.
Let me preface this by saying that Alex Verdugo is NOT the National League Rookie of Year at this stage. However, he could very well be by the end of the season.
Dugie is among the league leaders in DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) all while ranking among the best of the rookie class in nearly every statistical category of importance.
Verdugo is currently boasting a .311 batting average, first amongst all MLB rookies, and a .869 OPS, third amongst NL rookies (minimum 100 AB). His 8 DRS mark ranks only behind four outfielders (Lorenzo Cain, Cody Bellinger, Ronald Acuña Jr, and Kevin Kiermaier). Pretty impressive. His 1.4 WAR mark is also second among NL rookies, only behind Pete Alonso of the Mets.
Alex Verdugo has made his presence known this season. Checking in in center field every day for the Dodgers, the impact he has had with both his bat and his glove has been immeasurable. Verdugo truly has played like an All-Star this year and if Cody Bellinger was not employed by the Dodgers, he may have been looking at Team MVP.
Nonetheless, Verdugo has been awesome but just how awesome is the question. There are some top-tier rookie talents in the National League this season and it might be hard for Dugie to win considering the voters typically value counting stats over the rest.
When looking at all four players who are early favorites to win the 2019 Rookie of the Year Award, all have had tremendous impacts on their teams and have been truly outstanding.
Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets
Alonso has been absolutely fantastic this season is definitely a top-2 finisher in Rookie of the Year voting as it currently stands. Fun fact: He ranks 10th in all of Major League Baseball in slugging percentage. That’s how good he is. He currently holds a .256 batting average and .937 OPS which are absolutely excellent marks. His 1.6 WAR leads all NL rookies and his 2 DRS has silenced the doubters who questioned his defensive abilities. He is also tied for third in all of Major League Baseball with 17 home runs, only behind big names like Bellinger, Yelich, and Springer.
This tank from @Mets rookie Pete Alonso set the team record for homers by a rookie before the All-Star break.
The All-Star break is over a month away…
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 22, 2019
Mike Soroka, SP, Braves
Soroka has quite possibly been the best pitcher in the game in 2019 and certainly has not received any media buzz for it. He has tossed 50 2/3 innings with an absurd 1.07 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, picking up 46 strikeouts in the process. He has anchored the Braves’ pitching staff, also ranking among the league leaders in DRA (2.51). At this point in time, Soroka would have my vote for National League Rookie of the Year.
Mike Soroka, 93mph Fastball, 81mph Slider and 82mph Changeup, Overlay. pic.twitter.com/cHE1aspmxT
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 21, 2019
Chris Paddack, SP, Padres
Paddack is truly an ace in the making, posting a 1.93 ERA across 51 1/3 innings while amassing 56 strikeouts. His WHIP is a gaudy 0.76 and his DRA is actually lower than Soroka’s (2.23). However, when looking at Paddack’s body of work, it is hard to not put it into context: Paddack has absolutely shredded bad teams and has gotten knocked around by good teams, most recently the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is most likely third in voting at this point.
Chris Paddack, Wicked 84mph Changeup movement. ?? pic.twitter.com/PbhY236Js1
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 24, 2019
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
Consistently ranked amongst the best prospects in the game for quite awhile now, Tatis Jr. had the quite the start to his season before succumbing to a hamstring injury. He was, without a doubt, better than Verdugo to start the year, amassing six homers and six steals with a fantastic 141 wRC+ and 1.1 WAR in just 27 games. He is firmly behind Verdugo simply because of his injury.
Padres fans can get used to this: Fernando Tatis Jr. mashes his first career homer
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) April 2, 2019
The Dodgers boast one of the best rookies once again, this time in the form of Alex Verdugo. Dugie falls in a long line of amazing rookies, namely Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Walker Buehler of recent days. There is no doubt in my mind that Dugie could rival his competition and put up a great fight at the end of the season to try and take home Rookie of the Year honors.