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Will the Dodgers Produce a Rookie of the Year in 2018?



No team has produced more Rookie of the Year Award winners than the Dodgers. In fact, the award is named after Dodgers legend Jackie Robinson, who won the inaugural award in 1947, back when the team played in Brooklyn. Since Robinson, 17 more Dodgers have won the award including the likes of Don Newcombe and Fernando Valenzuela.

Between 1979-82, the team produced four straight Rookie of the Year Award winners and between 1992-96, five straight Dodgers won the honors.

For the last two seasons, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger have won the Rookie of the Year Award. So what are the chances that a Dodgers player wins the award in 2018?

 

Possible Candidates from the Dodgers

Alex Verdugo

I know the Dodgers sent Alex Verdugo back to triple-A to make room for Yasiel Puig, but there is no denying that Verdugo made a quality impact while he was up in the majors. With his sweet left handed swing, the 22-year-old outfielder his .265 with four doubles in only nine games this season.

Currently ranked the Dodgers second best prospect, Verdugo has tremendous upside. Drafted in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Verdugo has shown the ability to hit for a high average in every level of the minors that he has played.

Obviously Verdugo’s success at the big league level is contingent upon the health of the Dodgers established outfielders. If he is given the opportunity to play everyday with the Major League club, expect Verdugo to be in contention for the Rookie of the Year Award.

Walker Buehler

The only Dodger prospect with a higher upside than Verdugo, is pitcher Walker Buehler. Drafted in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Vanderbilt University, Buehler quickly worked his way through the Minor Leagues and is already establishing himself as a regular in the Dodgers rotation.

In addition to throwing a combined no-hitter, Buehler has gone at least five innings, allowing less than two runs in each of his four outings. The 23-year-old pitcher owns a 2-1 record with a 1.64 ERA in 22 innings this year. He should expect to remain on the Big League roster throughout the year. Assuming he stays healthy, Buehler will be the Dodgers leading candidate for the Rookie of the Year Award.

 

Top Competition

Christian Villanueva (San Diego Padres)

Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva came to the Majors swinging. Through his first 32 career games dating back to last year, he hit 13 home runs. Villanueva’s power earned him the National League Rookie of the Month in April.

As hot as he was to begin the season, he has gone hitless in his last 33 at-bats. As a result, his average dropped from .325 to .232 since May 1.

 

Joey Lucchesi (San Diego Padres)

Drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, pitcher Joey Lucchesi made only 33 starts in the Minor Leagues. Playing in single-A and double-A, the southpaw maintained an ERA of 1.49 between 2016 and 2017.

Lucchesi’s success has carried to the Majors. Through eight starts, he owns a 3-2 record with a 2.98 ERA. The Padres are definitely surprised by his success as he was ranked the ninth best prospect in their organization coming into the season.

 

Ronald Acuña Jr. (Atlanta Braves)

Coming into the season, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. was the top prospect in the National League. This 20-year-old is currently the youngest player in the Major Leagues. Despite his youth, he projects to become an elite level five tool player.

Acuña projects to be the favorite for Rookie of the Year. Many scouts compare his tools to Mike Trout. He has a higher upside than anyone else in this rookie class and is batting .274 with three home runs this year.

Other Candidates

Nationals outfielder Victor Robles came into the season with a chance to challenge his rookie competition. Elbow injuries have sidelines the 21-year-old prospect and he may have to wait another year to win the rookie award.

Mike Soroka is another Braves rookie with high expectations. The former first round pick has started two games with an ERA of 4.50.

Analysis

For the Dodgers, Walker Buehler is their only viable candidate for the Rookie of the Year at this point. Along with being the Dodgers best rookie, he is arguably having a better season than any other first year player in the league.

Robert Acuña Jr. is Buehler’s biggest threat for the rookie award. This highly touted outfielder projects to be a superstar for several years with his combination of speed and power. Through this point in the season though, the Dodgers righty has outplayed Acuña, producing a higher WAR. While it is only May, if the season ended today, there is no denying that Buehler would be the third Dodger to win the Rookie of the Year Award in as many years.

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Written by Arthur Cribbs

Arthur Cribbs is a journalism student at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He is a lifelong Dodgers fan and when he is not at school, he resides in Los Angeles.

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