If the AL Rookie of the Year award was voted on today, Masahiro Tanaka would be the clear winner. Or at least according to betting sites. So how does he stack up against the competition?
Tanaka has really gotten off to a tremendous start. Not only is he outperforming fellow AL rookie starting pitchers, but he's doing very well compared to all of the starters in both leagues. Wins are fairly meaningless, but after last night's game, he currently has the most wins, 11. His K/9 of 10.20 is the 3rd best in the majors, and his 1.35 BB/9 the 7th lowest. Only Felix Hernandez and Yu Darvish have been worth more fWAR than Tanaka's 2.8. He has the third lowest ERA (1.99), and the fourth lowest WHIP (0.95). Opponents are hitting just .216 off of him, which is the seventh best among all of the starting pitchers. It's pretty phenomenal that he's had no problem adjusting since coming over from the NPB, and that he's turned into the ace of the team. If he keeps this up, Tanaka could even stand a chance at winning the Cy Young award.
The rest of the players considered in contention for the RoY are all position players. At this point, Tanaka's fiercest competition looks to be Jose Abreu. The White Sox's first baseman has been putting together a nice season himself. He's currently batting .265/.318/.596 with 19 (!) home runs through 56 games. Only Edwin Encarnacion (20) and Nelson Cruz (21) have hit more home runs than him. That doesn't even take into consideration that he's played at least fourteen fewer games than both of them, thanks to an ankle injury that required him to go on the DL earlier in the season. His .338 ISO is the highest among the majors, and he's posted a wRC+ of 145.
Houston outfielder George Springer is also in the mix, though Abreu has the better overall stats between them. Through 53 games, Springer is hitting .250/.346/.471 with 12 home runs. Springer has the edge in terms of walk percentage. Boston's Xander Bogaerts is also expected to be in contention. He's batting .277/.364/.426 through 67 games. He's hit six home runs and has a wRC+ of 120.
Our very own Yangervis Solarte is included in the betting odds as well. After a hot start to the season, Solarte has cooled down some lately. In fact, he hasn't had a single hit over his last 20 plate appearances. While his average was above .300 at some point, he's now hitting .274/.347/.420. His wRC+ is 113 and he's hit six home runs. Finally, Detroit's third baseman Nick Castellanos is considered to have the most outside chance of winning Rookie of the Year. He's hit five home runs through 59 games, and is currently batting .274/.310/.410.
Aside from Abreu, none of the position players look terribly exciting, mostly because he's the only one leading some stats among the majors. If Solarte could pick things up again, he might be able to make it interesting between them. Otherwise, if Tanaka keeps up the good work, he should be a shoo-in.
Let us know who you think it'll be in the poll below.
All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and MLB.com.