Evan Gattis has taken the baseball world by storm. The 26-year-old rookie, who was once trying to find himself, is now in the major leagues and creating a story that resembles folklore. I’m going to list of the competition surrounding Evan Gattis and the award. Here are my top six rookies in the NL, including Gattis.
1) Shelby Miller- Shelby Miller has graced baseball’s top prospects list since being drafted in the first round (19th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009. He marched through the minors and made his major league debut in 2011, pitching primarily in relief. This year Miller is looking like one of the best pitchers in baseball. He has a 62/15 BB/K ratio in just 57 innings this year. He has 1.74 ERA, but an FIP of 2.44 and an xFIP of 3.14 show that he has some regression in front of him and has been graced with good fielding behind him.
Overall: Shelby Miller has performed like a number one starter, and everyone should expect that trend to continue. I would look for Miller to go 15-8 this year with an ERA around 2.6. I expect him to strikeout less guys and issue a few more free passes than he has so far (leading to the increased ERA), but still to be effective enough to be the number one starter for most MLB teams.
2) Hyun-Jin Ryu- The Japanese pitcher is 26 and is having a great first-half in the United States. He has been unfortunate with a bad bullpen, which has cost him a few wins. Nonetheless, Ryu is 5-2 with a 3.30 ERA, which is good for a WAR of 0.9. Ryu is striking out just under a batter per inning and has issued just 22 walks in his 63 innings of work. His peripherals match his current statistics, so no one should expect much of a regression from Ryu.
Overall: The Dodgers have had success with Japanese pitchers coming over and making an immediate impact for their squad (see Nomo, Hideo) and Ryu is following in those same footsteps. I would expect Ryu to go 15-10 with an ERA around 3.20 for the rest of the way, all the while keeping up with his great command.
3) Didi Gregorius- Gregorius was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 2009, and only recently made a blip on the top 100 prospects listed by Baseball America. When the Diamondbacks were searching for a trading partner during the Justin Upton extravaganza, they were holding out for a shortstop. They got their man at the expense of one of the best young arms (Trevor Bauer) in the game. Gregorius was supposed to spend most of his time in the minors while ony making a marginal impact in the majors later in the year. Injuries occurred and the hot hitting, slick fielding shortstop got his chance in Arizona.
Overall: Gregorius’ stat line looks good going of the naked eye test. A slash line of .348/.406/.554 indicates that he should be running away with the NL Rookie of the Year Award, but I see some regression (a lot of it) ahead. He has a BABIP of .403, and the average over the past few years has been around .330. I expect to see some regression there and I would like to see him get some more free passes before I call him a legitimate candidate. If he proves to be one of the anomolies that out-performs their peripherals then Gregorius could have a nice season. I expect a .280/.330/.430 slash line from Didi come year end.
4) AJ Pollack- Pollock was a first round pick (17th overall) in the 2009 MLB Draft, two picks ahead of Shelby Miller. Unfortunately for Pollock, he never graced a top 100 prospect list by Baseball America. Though he didn’t play in 2010, he hit well in 2009 and 2011, which earned him a call-up. he is 25 years old, but has only been given playing time due to the injuries of Jason Kubel and Adam Eaton. He owns a .253/.276/.432 slash line, which isn’t very impressive. What Pollock does have is great outfield defense, which makes up for the slightly below-average offensive numbers that he has produced.
Overall: I don’t expect Pollock to stick around this conversation for long. Several players are going to lap him, once they get more playing time (Nolan Arenado, Marcell Ozuna, Scott Van Slyke, etc.). Pollock is a nice peice, but he will struggle for playing time once Kubel and Eaton are back in the Diamondbacks everyday lineup. If he can improve his plate discipline, he will garner more respect. For now, expect what he has been producing.
5) Jedd Gyorko- Gyorko was a second round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. He was originally drafted as a thrid baseman, but, with Chase Headley entrenched there, he made the switch to second base. He has performed quite nicely for a guy who has not gotten much recognition outside of the NL West. He owns a .284/.350/.451 slash, with an average strikeout rate and an average walk rate. I love Gyorko because he gets on base and does the little things right with the bat. He has been awful in the field, but one should expect that with him not being a traditional second baseman.
Overall: Gyorko should continue what he’s doing. I would expect a .280/.350/.450 slash line at the end of this year, and he may force the Padres to trade Headley in the off season. Gyorko is a professional hitter and should be a staple for the Padres lineup for the future.
6) Evan Gattis- The 26-year-old was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 2010 MLB Draft in the 23rd round. Gattis always performed well with the bat in the minor leagues, but that was always chalked up to him playing with players more than six years younger than him. He continued to hit and attracted believers. This year he made the Braves Opening Day club and his first hit was a home run against Roy Halladay. He has been a huge success for the braves and is capable of playing first base, catcher and left field. His versatility is an added plus. His slash line right now is .256/.308/.587. Here is the crazy thing, I think he’ll get better.
Overall: Gattis’ BABIP is .260, which is well below the league norm. He strikes out more than the average player and walks less, which are two big pet peeves of mine. If he can fix those and get a little more luck on the side, then Gattis could run away with this award. I expect a .280/.330/.560 line from Gattis at years end, and be the replacement to Brian McCann.
Evan Gattis has turned from a person to an attraction. He is walking folklore to the likes of Paul Bunyon. His season couldn’t have been scripted better, and there is still a lot more of baseball to play. The question might not be if Gattis should win the Rookie of the Year Award, but whether or not he should be on the All Star team.
Here is how I would fill out my voting for NL Rookie of the Year with the aforementioned players:
1) Evan Gattis- C, Atlanta Braves
2) Shelby Miller- P, St. Louis Cardinals
3) Jedd Gyorko- 2B, San Diego Padres
4) Hyun-Jin Ryu- P, Los Angeles Dodgers
5) Didi Gregorius- SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
6) AJ Pollock- OF, Arizona Diamondbacks