The explosive powerhouse bat in Queens, the young gun with a pistol for an arm, and the most exciting player to come through San Diego in decades. All three of the BBWAA’s Rookie of the Year Finalists have had incredible seasons, and rightfully deserve to be lauded for their efforts. However, let’s not forget the darker sides of their seasons. Let’s look at the best and worst stats for each finalist, and see who comes out on top.
Pete Alonso – 1B, New York Mets
Best: 53 Home Runs.
Pete Alonso kicked the door down in April after the Mets made the right decision of putting him on the Opening Day roster. Smashing an incredible .292/.382/.642, with a 1.006 OPS, the Mets seemed to have found the home run hitter of the future on their doorstep.
While the Mets continued to disappoint throughout the season, the Flushing Faithful were given something to cheer for on a nightly basis. As the Mets fell from the wild card race, Pete Alonso found himself with 42 home runs and the chance to take a record from the Bronx. With Aaron Judge‘s Rookie Record 52 Home Run’s looming in the distance, Alonso got to work.
In true Mets fashion, waiting until the second to last game, Pete Alonso broke Judge’s record, by sending an absolute moonshot to dead center field. In (another) season of broken promises and shattered dreams, Pete Alonso gave Mets fans something to cheer about, something to be proud about, and something to lord over Yankee fans for years to come.
Pete Alonso is the most prolific Rookie home run hitter to ever live… for now.
Worst: .214 with 2-outs and Runners in Scoring Position.
Honestly, this one was a toss-up. I could have gone with his July numbers which were absolute garbage, but I didn’t feel like that was fair. Yes, the Home Run Derby Curse might be a thing, and yes the Mets were playing garbage baseball, but one month doesn’t feel like it tainted the season for Alonso.
However, with a big bat comes big responsibility, and that’s where Pete struggled.
With two outs and runners in scoring position, Pete Alonso turned into Juan Lagares, and that’s not great. In those 56 at-bats where Pete was facing 2-outs and runners on, he hit a measly .214, with a .200 BABIP. For a team that struggled to hit with runners on in general, Alonso was still striking below the team average of .237 and a .281 BABIP. Not great. Not great at all.
If Alonso wants to become a household name like Aaron Judge, he’ll need to work on being feared in those situations, rather than a favorable matchup.
Mike Soroka – SP, Atlanta Braves
Best: 5.6 WAR.
Mike Soroka, using the Mike Trout MVP argument, was the best rookie pitcher of the 2019 season. 5.6 WAR? Check. The closest pitcher to Soroka is John Means, the future of the Baltimore Orioles, who trails Soroka by 1.3 WAR.
Soroka brought the heat early in the year, putting up incredible numbers in his first eight starts. Through May, Soroka was posting a 5-1 record with a 1.07 ERA, 0.888 WHIP, and an 8.2 k/9, all solid numbers for a rookie pitching in the powerful NL East.
While Soroka’s numbers would eventually come back down to earth, he remained consistent, something that wasn’t always true about the Atlanta rotation. Soroka brought stability to the mound, and the kid proved his worth.
His 5.6 WAR was higher than 2018 Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuña’s 2019 evaluation. And that’s not something to gloss over.
Worst: Home Splits.
Much like Julio Teheran before him, Mike Soroka does not like pitching at SunTrust.
Soroka pitched 16 of his 29 games on the road in 2019, and he was excellent in the majority of them. Over those 16 games, Soroka posted a 7-1 record, a 1.55 ERA, a 0.963 WHIP, and held opposing batters to a .205 average.
What gives those numbers scope is the fact that the Atlanta Braves, while cruising to an NL East Division title, weren’t the best team on the road, and saw their numbers dip outside of Georgia.
However, Atlanta is where Soroka struggled.
As stated above, away from SunTrust, Soroka owned a 7-1 record, a 1.55 ERA, a 0.963 WHIP, and held opposing batters to a .205 average. In Atlanta, Soroka posted a 6-3 record, a 4.14 ERA, a 1.303 WHIP and let opposing hitters walk all over him to the tune of a .275 average over his 13 home starts.
Those numbers paint two different pictures of two seemingly different pitchers.
Fernando Tatis, Jr – SS, San Diego Padres
Best: .969 OPS
OPS is an interesting metric because of what it tells us about a player, and it can actually hide about a player’s abilities. For example, Barry Bonds 2004 OPS was a preposterous 1.422. The average fan will look at that number and say “yeah, the dude mashes dongs, no wonder his OPS is huge,” the interesting thing is how his walks played into that number.
Bonds was walked more times in that season than any other point in his career. Even further, Bonds walked more times than any other player in a single season. Without his equally preposterous .604 On-Base Percentage, aided by walks, more than half of them being intentional, his OPS would have still been high, but not insanely large.
What does this have to do with Tatis, Jr.?
Okay, so in his injury-shortened 2019 season, Fernando Tatis, Jr. led all MLB shortstops with a .969 OPS. Xander Bogaerts, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Francisco Lindor – all of them had a lower OPS than Tatis, Jr. Did they hit more home runs? Yes. Did the strikeout less? No. Did they walk more? Yes, actually. So what’s the difference?
Fernando Tatis, Jr. is a dangerous hitter who can take you to all fields and can fly on the base paths. Despite only playing half the season, he still had 6 triples, which puts him just outside of the top 10 for triples this year. In 84 games, he had 106 hits. If he replicates those numbers in the second half, he’s in a league of his own, and potentially win the batting title.
Playing in only 84 games, Tatis Jr. proved to the league that his bat was one to be feared.
Worst: 84 Games Played.
This stat is 10000% not Tatis Jr.’s fault.
After setting the Padres on fire, the living highlight reel suffered a string of injuries that shut him down for the remainder of the season. This was a smart move for San Diego, as Tatis Jr. has been having back issues for a while. And as someone very familiar with back injuries, fixing them now will help in the long run.
Playing just over half the season, and still putting up these numbers is amazing for Tatis Jr. However, with both Soroka and Alonso getting the benefit of playing a full schedule of games, if one thing will go against him, it’s sample size.
So who wins?
I’ll keep this short and simple.
Pete Alonso is your 2019 Rookie of the Year.
- / 10 months ago
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