The NL Rookie of the Year Favorites

The Favorites:
1. Randy Wells, RHP, Chicago
Wells is ninth in the league in lowest BB/9 at 2.09 BB/9 and second amongst rookies behind Josh Geer. Wells is also 20th in K/BB at 2.72, although he’s eight spots below Zimmermann. The Chicago righty is comfortably in the lead amongst rookies and 16th overall in lowest HR/9 at 0.75. Wells has the 17th lowest FIP in the NL at 3.72, while Happ is at 34th (with an ERA/FIP difference of -1.32).

2. J.A. Happ, LHP, Philadelphia
Happ is tops amongst (healthy) rookies in K/9 at 6.52 (minimum 90 IPs), but that is good for just 35th in the NL. Zimmermann (on his way to Tommy John surgery) was tops amongst rookies and ninth overall at 9.07 K/9. Happ is 10th in the league in lowest-average-allowed at .233, 12 spots ahead of Wells and 13 spots ahead of Kawakami. Happ is 10th in the NL in WHIP, followed directly by Wells in the 11th hole. Happ also has the fourth lowest BABIP allowed at .262 (Wells is at 15th).

3. Dexter Fowler, CF, Colorado
Fowler is 21st in the league with a BB% rate at 13.6 (minimum 200 plate appearances), 10 spots ahead of Ryan Hanigan (who also has the 12th lowest K% at 10.9%, and the fifth best BB/K). Fowler has the seventh highest BABIP in the NL at .365, while rookies Chris Dickerson and Parra come in next at 16th and 17th, respectively. Fowler has 10 stolen bases more than any other rookie with 26 total. He performs terribly in center field according to UZR, and is rated last in the league in that category.

4. Andrew McCutchen, CH, Pittsburgh
McCutchen is second in rookies in OPS at .834. He’s also second in slugging and third in batting average. He doesn’t stand out in any one offensive category right now, but he has good all-around numbers. McCutchen has shown the best range in center field amongst the rookies, although he has not fared well in UZR. Colby Rasmus leads rookie center fielders in that category by a wide margin.

5. Casey McGehee, UTL, Milwaukee
McGehee has the slight edge on batting average over Parra, but he also has about 100 fewer plate appearances. None of the rookies are amongst the leaders in average in the National League. McGehee is the only rookie with an ISO above .200 at .203. good for 32nd in the league. He is also first in rookies with an OPS of .864. Defensively, he’s been average-at-best at second base and quite below-average at third base.

Watch Out For:
Tommy Hanson, RHP, Atlanta
Hanson is hurt by his lack of innings, but he could make a run at the top spot with a solid month of September.

Kenshin Kawakami, RHP, Atlanta
This Japanese veteran is reliable and plugs along, but he doesn’t really deserve consideration for the award given his professional experience.

Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, Washington
If not for his injury, Zimmermann would be a favorite for the award given how well he’s pitched, based on numerous categories.

Chris Coghlan, LF, Florida
Like McCutchen, Coghlan has solid overall numbers, but does not stand out in any one area. Defensively, he has not performed well according to UZR.

Gerardo Parra, CF, Arizona
Parra leads rookies with eight triples, but has stolen just five bases in 10 attempts. His defensive play has been pretty average.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

39 Responses to “The NL Rookie of the Year Favorites”

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  1. Alex says:

    No love for Everth Cabrera, whose WAR is higher than Fowler, Coghlan, Parra, Kawakami, McGeehee, and Hanson despite playing PETCO park?

    Also, I’m sure your Colby Rasmus admission will raise hell since he’s more mainstream

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    • Alex says:

      whoops, I mean “in PETCO” and Rasmus “omission”

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    • Spiby says:

      Yea Everth should be up there no doubt.. it’s too bad he got hurt early on this year or he might be leading NL rookies in WAR. OPS+ of 115 and is lightning fast. He can hit for average, take walks, and 40% of his hits are for extra bases. He’s easily the Padres 2nd best position player already after making the jump from single A.

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  2. Doug Melvin says:

    “Defensively, he’s been average-at-best at second base and quite below-average at third base.”

    UZR as Gospel?

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    • Al says:

      Wouldn’t have to take UZR as gospel. Ask people that watch the Brewers. I’m a Cubs fan myself, and I’ve read one of the reasons they thought McGehee had no Major League future and let him go was bad defense. And now Jake Fox is their backup third baseman.

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  3. aj says:

    How quickly things change. At the half it was all Rasmus. One month later he’s cold and these guys are hot. We’ll see what another month and a half do.

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  4. tom s. says:

    is this the “will win” or “should win” list? b/c mccutchen is doing very well by WAR (and just a tad behind him is rasmus).

    fowler is a terrible fielder, and is hitting worse than mccutchen and mcgehee by wOBA. also, how does fowler steal so many bases yet suck so bad in CF? bad routes?

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  5. Shush says:

    Interesting how McGehee made this list — but not your list of best NL rookie hitters just a few days ago.

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    • Marc says:

      I pretty much underestimated his worth until I really dug into the numbers and saw how well he’s performed offensively compared to the other rookies.

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  6. Fresh Hops says:

    The UZR model for Colorado is seems broken, or something about playing in CO causes bad defense elsewhere, or something. Something about the way fly balls travel. Willy Taveras went from being +20 runs as a CF in Huston to -5 in Denver and is now +10 in Cinci. Fowler got very good marks as a center fielder from scouts. But UZR is very down on him in CO. I know this is limited data, but if UZR really is prone to +/- 25 runs from season to season with no explanation, we should probably stop using it so much.

    In conclusion, I think Fowler is an average defender in CF.

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    • Bill B. says:

      That’s a great point about Coors.

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    • Matt says:

      I agree: Watching Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez this year, they seem to have tremendous range and catch everything: I don’t get why UZR hates them so much when every scout lauds them for their fielding skills.

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  7. Karl says:

    Agree that Tommy Hanson will be hurt by his lack of innings. Still, you can’t overlook the impact Hanson has had on the Braves. He’s already got 7 wins, 3.05 ERA, and his 1.30 WHIP is inflated because he was shelled in his first start. I think he’ll put together a strong September. I’m always a little concerned about his pitch count (threw over 100 pitches 3/5 starts) but Bobby Cox is no Dusty Baker.

    I’d be shocked if Kawakami got any rookie of the year buzz. I cringe every time he’s going to pitch my Braves. Frank Wren signed him this offseason when we were desperate because no one would sign with the Braves. 3 years/$23 million is insane for him. Call me crazy but I don’t buy veteran Japanese players as legit rookies.

    Karl Moats
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  8. nick says:

    I think it will come down to the three pitchers: Wells, Happ, and Hanson. ROY voters fall in love with wins and ERA so whoever has the best rest of august and september will win imo. Not talking about who should win, but who will win

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  9. Will says:

    What’s strange about McGehee is that if you look back at some of the scouting reports, they said plus defense and average hitting. I don’t know if that was based on playing 2B, and he’s having trouble adjusting to 3B, or what . . . but I always thought 2B was the harder position. Is it reasonable to assume his D can pick up if he gets more time at 3B?

    And more generally, what is the latest word on his future? Does the Brewers mgmt see him as a long-term possibility at 3B?

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    • Colin says:

      He’s had some knee problems this season that may be decreasing his mobility. A few people who have seen him a bit more in the minors have said that his range isn’t as good as normal.

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  10. Christian says:

    This list is..biased or horrible. Your choice.

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  11. Nick says:

    So, Rasmus… 2.3 WAR… not on the list.

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  12. heyyoo says:

    Parra is probably going to get a bit more play from the writers voting on ROY awards than he would here. He leads all Rookies in RBI, and is 2nd in BA. Also, Parra is likely to end up qualifying for the batting title, whereas McGehee won’t. That will loom large to the voters if Parra ends up over .300

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  13. gnomez says:

    Colby Rasmus asplode.

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  14. Tom says:

    Come on guys, Happ is the only reason the Phillies rotation was hanging in there before their mid-season acquisitions. We all know they have one of the best offenses, but their pitching was terrible. Hamels has had an ERA near 5, Blanton was mid-4s, Moyer near 6, Myers near 5 (and got hurt), and Bastardo near 7! But along comes Happ, who has been under a 3 ERA…in a hitter’s park no less!

    Some things to really take notice are Quality Starts, CG, and SO.

    Happ 11/15 QS 73%
    Wells 14/18 QS 78%
    Hanson 7/12 QS 58%

    While Happ and Wells are close in ERA, Whip, Record, QS….what stands out is Happ’s 2 CG and 2 SO! It stands out because few rookies go the distance and/or pitch shutouts. Even fewer do such after coming out of the bullpen only a few weeks before being stretched out. This to me puts him ahead. Only 7 NL pitchers have more CG, but NONE have more SO (tied with Lincecum among others). Not even Lincecum, Hamels, or Johan Santana had a single CG or SO their rookie year (and Kershaw, Gallardo, Billingsly, more recently). Even Doc Halladay hasn’t had more than 2 SO in a single year.

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  15. JoeyO says:

    348 PA, .282/.362/.407/.769, .125 ISO, 5.0 Spd, .344 wOBA, .329 BAbip – Coghlan

    342 PA, .297/.334/.437/.771, .139 ISO, 5.8 Spd, .330 wOBA, .359 BAbip – Parra

    232 PA, .308/.362/.507/.869, .199 ISO, 3.0 Spd, .373 wOBA, .250 Babip – McGehee

    420 PA, .271/.367/.416/.783, .145 ISO, 7.5 Spd, .350 wOBA, .365 BAbip – Fowler

    283 PA, .289/.357/.478/.835, .190 ISO, 7.6 Spd, .368 wOBA, .330 BAbip – McCutchen

    232 PA, .275/.361/.425/.786, .150 ISO, 8.1 Spd, .355 wOBA, .333 BAbip – Cabrera

    Parra really has no business in the conversation. BA is the only positive he holds, but that is merely the result of the .359 BAbip. Everth definitely has to be included. Although his limited PA will hurt him, he has been extremely strong – one of the strongest of the group.

    370 PA, .254/.310/.415/.725, .161 ISO, 3.2 Spd, .316 wOBA, .285 BAbip
    You can see that Rasmus doesn’t really belong in the conversation either. His WAR is a high 2.3 mainly because of UZR (which shouldn’t be taken as gold over partial seasons) and his higher PA.

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    • Cody says:

      I just don’t like players that are 25+ and are rookies for some reason. With a rookie of the year candidate I like to think they should have a lot more improvement in the years to come instead of their peak coming in two to three years from now heck maybe even this examples of 25+ rookies are Angel Berroa ,Kazuhiro Sasaki , Marty Cordova ,Bob Hamelin ,Joe Charboneau and while looking up these winners I couldn’t find anyone of them older than 26 except for sasaki and suzuki who technically weren’t “rookies”. Some had decent careers but non were in their own right a star.

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  16. Rick says:

    Surprised to see that Ryan Hanigan isn’t even on the list. A catcher with a .375 OBP and a 45% CS rate is pretty impressive.

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  17. Chris says:

    Speaking of being eligible for rookie of the year voting, anyone else wondering why Tommy John is on the stats list for the pitchers? I’m pretty he missed his chance to win rookie of the year 45 years ago…

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  18. David Coonce says:

    Was Edinson Volquez a leading contender before getting hurt? Or will he have to wait until next year?

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  19. Ron Martin says:

    JUst to add, Chris Coughlan was voted Rookie of The Month in NL for August

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  20. Ron Martin says:

    Chris Coghlan” is “among NL leaders in Batting Average…….in top 10. He is playing “out of position” (a natural infielder) so seems unfair to rate his fielding with those who are “natural outfielders” but Marlins need his bat and his OBP

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  21. Dewey says:

    When was this article put togather. Must have been before the all star game. Chris Coglen has led the national league in hitting the months of august and now sept. He is in the top ten in hitting in the national league. He is tops in rookies in obp. He is tops in rookies in hitting with runners in scoreing position. The biggest problem he has he pplays for the Florida Marlins and the sport writers seem to forge we have a professional baseball team down here also.

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    • Knox says:

      I think most of Florida forgets you have a baseball team down there, so don’t just blame the sportswriters. Blame Florida.

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  22. nick says:

    Chris Coghlan well deserves the award. If he doesn’t get it would just not be fair. If the writers do their research they will get it right.

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  23. echo echo says:

    no more question about this, look how Chris Coghlan finished out August and September, more hits than anyone at 113 since the All Star Break, BA of .321, the numbers go on–he deserves to win NL Rookie of the Year

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  24. s says:

    Coghlan .321 ba is by far the most impressive number, no one even close, and also leads in ob% with most plate appearances, more impressive than Wells 2.95 era with 170 IP and only 5.5 k/9

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