The heavy favorite, a defensive wizard, and the lone bright spot on one of baseball’s worst teams. With the announcement coming later today, we present the best and worst stats of the American League’s Rookie of the Year candidates.
Yordan Alvarez – DH, Houston Astros
Best stat: .655 SLG%
As if the Astros needed another bat in their lineup, Yordan Alvarez did plenty in his half-season of play to lock up the ROY title. His .313 BA, 27 HRs, 26 doubles, and 78 RBIs were certainly enough to draw attention to the June call-up, but his most impressive stat may just be his monstrous .655 SLG%. No player in the AL with as many plate appearances as Alvarez posted a higher SLG%. And by the same criteria, only one player in all of the majors had him beat- one Christian Yelich. Needless to say, this kid can mash.
Worst stat: .206 BA in late and close games
This may be nitpicking, but one area where Alvarez can improve in 2020 is getting hits in late and close games. In these situations (defined as the 7th inning or later in a tie game, a game where the batting team is up by 1, or the batting team has the tying run at least on deck), Alvarez batted a lowly .206, with only 2 home runs and 14 strikeouts in 34 ABs. Again, this is only a sliver of what is a small sample size to begin with, but those “clutch” numbers for Alvarez don’t help his ROY case.
Brandon Lowe – 2B, Tampa Bay Rays
Best stat: .989 Fielding %
Injuries limited Lowe to only 82 games this season. And while he does not have the offensive output to stand up to Alvarez in this contest, he did manage to put on a defensive clinic in 2019. In 69 games, his .989 fielding percentage would have been good enough for second in the AL had he qualified among second basemen. And let’s not forget, he also logged 90 innings in 2019 between first base, right field, and left field, and committed no errors.
Worst stat: 113 strikeouts
As previously noted, Lowe only played 82 games. Yet he somehow managed to strikeout a whopping 113 times. To put that in some perspective, had he played an entire 162 game season, he would have been on pace to strike out 196 times. Such a total would have easily led the majors in 2019. Lowe had a solid rookie season otherwise, but plate discipline should be on his to-do list come Spring Training.
John Means – SP, Baltimore Orioles
Best stat: 3.0 WAR
Let’s be real. Means’ biggest accomplishment is managing to earn more wins than losses (12-11) while making 27 starts for the Triple-A Baltimore Orioles. But hidden among a respectable 3.60 ERA, .232 opponent BA and 1.14 WHIP is a WAR of 3.0 according to Fangraphs. That’s good enough for the lead among AL rookie pitchers in 2019, and only Mike Soroka of the Braves (4.0) had him beat across all of baseball.
Worst stat: 7.03 K/9
Despite a low opponent BA and decent WHIP, Means was not often getting guys out at the plate. His K/9 ratio of 7.03 leaves him at 83rd among rookie pitchers in 2019, and well below the league average rate of 8.9. In yet another MLB season in which strikeout numbers were at all-time highs, Means stands out as somewhat of an oddity in this regard.
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