The race for MLB Rookie of the Year has officially begun. The season is just getting started, but it’s never too early to start looking at the candidates for the award. At this point, just over two weeks into the 2021 season, the players leading the race are not the ones who were considered preseason favorites.
AL Rookie of the Year
Two of the preseason favorites to win the award, Wander Franco and Jarred Kelenic, began the season in the minor leagues. There is currently no real indication that they will be called up any time soon. Randy Arozarena was one of the top preseason favorites for the award after his historic postseason last year. He is off to a solid start and is definitely a contender. He currently trails these two other players with hot bats in the early stages.
He hasn’t just been one of the most impressive rookies so far this year, but Yermin Mercedes has statistically been one of the best hitters in all of baseball. Through the White Sox first thirteen games of the season, his scorching hot .476 batting average leads the entire league. He also ranks third with a 1.307 OPS. While it is highly unlikely that he can maintain this pace all season, his incredible start has been amazing to watch and he currently leads the race in the American League for Rookie of the Year.
The lefty slugger has been showing off his power swing for the Tigers. Through only nine starts, Akil Baddoo already has four home runs. This total leads all rookies and is in the top ten in the league. Just as impressive as the power is a slash line of .323/.333/.839 with a 1.172 OPS. If he can continue to be efficient at the plate without losing the home run stroke, he will remain in the race for AL Rookie of the Year.
NL Rookie of the Year
The clear preseason favorite to win the award was Ke’Bryan Hayes. Unfortunately, he was injured in just his second game of the season but should hopefully be back soon. Sixto Sanchez figures to be a competitor but he is dealing with an injury of his own. He has not made a start yet. This leaves the door wide open for the NL Rookie of the Year race. Nobody in the NL has been as impressive as Mercedes or Baddoo in the AL, but these three players currently lead the pack.
A switch hitter for the Cardinals, Dylan Carlson has recorded three home runs in his first eleven starts of this season. His slugging and OPS leave more to be desired, but his .356 OBP is solid. He is an excellent defensive player and it looks like he will be an everyday starter moving forward, so he will have plenty of opportunities to compete for the award.
Jonathan India is currently the everyday second baseman for the Reds. He has been efficient at the plate with a nice .333 BA and .395 OBP. He has yet to record a home run or a stolen base, but he has been opportunistic with 11 RBIs through just 12 games. It’s an encouraging start and he will look to build off of it moving forward.
An interesting mix of speed and power, Jazz Chisholm has made himself a contender for the award. Through ten starts he has hit two home runs and has also stolen three bases. He has a strong OBP of .385 to go along with a respectable .998 OPS. The NL Rookie of the Year race is wide open at this early stage of the season, but Chisholm is firmly in the mix.