So far as we can tell, there isn’t a clear front-runner in the AL. Yordan Alvarez, listed first here due to alphabetical order, is probably the favorite. Sure, a primary DH hasn’t won the award since 1994, but Alvarez’s production at the plate is hard to ignore. It doesn’t hurt his case that he’ll continue to add to his counting stats while Brandon Lowe will miss the rest of the season due to injury.
With the regular season winding down, we here at CBS Sports are going to break down the various awards race this week. To be perfectly clear, we’re not telling you how we’d vote for each award. We’re analyzing the races based on the established standards of the voting body. That’s a bit subjective, but, then again, so are the awards.
The Top Tier
Our awards race continues today with the Rookie of the Year in each league. Here are the best candidates for the AL ROY at this point in time. The players are listed alphabetically within each tier.
Michael Chavis was, predictably, unable to sustain his early-season pace. We’ll mention him here all the same because it’s better to have been hot and cooled off than to have never been hot in the first place. There was a time earlier in the year when Spencer Turnbull was one of the top candidates for the Rookie of the Year Award. He’s faded since then, running up an ERA near 8.00 in nine second-half starts. But his overall numbers are such that he’s likely to garner some consideration.
Also In The Mix
The lone pitcher in the top three, John Means had a 3.50 ERA (133 ERA+) over his first 27 appearances (23 starts) this season. He’s been the most pleasant surprise on Baltimore’s pitching stuff, which isn’t necessarily saying much. Still, we’re fans and he should finish as the highest-ranked pitcher, if not the award winner. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is almost certainly going to finish with the most plate appearances among AL rookies. Unfortunately, his overall performance hasn’t been such to land him in the top tier. Blame it on his first half, when he had a .741 OPS. That’s because he’s posted an OPS close to .900 since the All-Star Game. So much for the Home Run Derby jinx, huh?
Others Of Note
As mentioned above, Lowe is out for the rest of the season due to injury. Before going down, he’d homered 16 times and had a .862 OPS while seeing action at five different positions. On a pure WAR basis, Lowe is right there with Alvarez. We suspect Alvarez will win the award, but Lowe deserves recognition for a quality rookie season. Oscar Mercado has an OPS+ over 90 and has been an above-average defender in center field. That’s a solid player.
Eloy Jimenez has been slightly better than average as a hitter. His poor defense sinks him when it comes to catch-all metrics like WAR. The way Nick Anderson has pitched since joining the Rays, who knows, maybe someone throws him a downballot vote as recognition. Zach Plesac has been a pleasant surprise for Cleveland, posting a 120 ERA+ over 18 starts. Bo Bichette has been fantastic. He’s just not going to have enough plate appearances to garner serious consideration.