Ranking the MLB Rookie of the Year finalists

By Eddie Ravert

The 2015 MLB season was certainly the season of rookies.

On November 16 two MLB newcomers will be awarded the most prolific award of their young, successful careers. Sportsnaut decided to rank the top candidates nominated for the 2015 Rookie of the Year award.

American League

1. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

The super-hyped, first-overall draft pick in 2012 had the best, and most impactful, 2015 season of any MLB rookie. He helped lead the Houston Astros to their first playoff appearance since 2005. Correa posted a very respectable .279 season batting average and 22 home runs.

Correa made his MLB debut on June 8 immediately proving his superstar status. Through his first 10 games, the shortstop hit .349 and hit his first MLB home run in just his second game. He also was a fan favorite and even made his teammates custom t-shirts.

According to Baseball Reference, only five rookie shortstops since 1901 have exceeded or matched Correa’s total of 22 home runs, which was truly an amazing accomplishment. He is confident that he will win the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year award.

“If the award comes, it comes,” Correea said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I think I’ve put up pretty good numbers to deserve it.”

2. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

Lindor proves a serious threat to Correa as the top candidate in the AL Rookie of the Year battle. His batting average was significantly higher than Correa’s (.313), he hit 22 doubles (same amount as Correa) and hit four triples, compared to Correa’s one.

The fact that the Astros made the playoffs gives Correa a leg up on Lindor, even though the award is supposedly voted on regular season play. Lindor has a serious advantage on Correa in the defensive department, at 7.2 runs above average.

When it comes down to the voting, the BBWAA might as well pick out of a hat, it’s that close. Either way, Correa and Lindor will be the top shortstops for many years to come, as ESPN’s David Schoenfield so eloquently put.

You can’t go wrong either way,” David Schoenfield said, via ESPN.com. “I mean, this isn’t Bob Hamelin winning the award over Manny Ramirez. These two are going to be fighting for the starting position in the All-Star Game for a long time.”

3. Miguel Sano, DH/3B, Minnesota Twins

The dark horse of the AL Rookie of the Year finalists, Sano had himself an incredible rookie season. After making his MLB debut on July 2, at 22 years of age, Sano smacked 18 home runs and posted a .269 batting average.

Sano was named the Most Valuable Twin and the team’s most outstanding rookie for his outstanding 2015 season. He joins Tony Oliva as the only Twins rookies to sweep both awards, which Oliva did in 1964.

If it weren’t for beyond breakout seasons from both Correa and Lindor, Sano would easily be the top finalist for the AL Rookie of the Year. Even though he likely won’t win the award, he will be a top player for the Minnesota Twins for many years to come.

National League

1. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

After spending the first couple games of the 2015 season in the minors, much to the Cubs’ fans chagrin, Bryant proved he is the top finalist to win the NL Rookie of the Year award.

Bryant led all rookies with a 6.5 WAR in 2015. He tied Los Angeles Dodgers’ Joc Pederson for first place among NL rookies in home runs with 26. Leading the Cubs to their first playoff appearance since 2008, the former University of San Diego Torero proved a pivotal member of the North Siders. He was named to the 2015 NL All Star team and was named NL Rookie of the Month in May and August.

A true fan favorite, he even went undercover as a Lyft driver and asked his customers what they thought of Kris Bryant.

The hands-down favorite to be crowned the NL Rookie of the Year will need to improve his defense if he wants to continue his All Star success. However, his offensive numbers speak for themselves and will be the difference maker for the voters.

2. Jung Ho Kang, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates

The former Korea Baseball Organization stud made quite the impact for the NL Wild Card Pittsburgh Pirates. He posted a .287 batting average and .355 OBP while also striking out only 99 times. Unfortunately for Kang, he suffered a knee injury and gruesome fractured leg against the Chicago Cubs in September that cut his season short.

Because he was acquired from the Korea Baseball Organization, his performance came at the hefty rookie price tag of $2.5 million, while all other Rookie of the Year candidates were making the league minimum. Kang is on pace to recover from his surgery and should be ready to lead the Pirates come April.

3. Matt Duffy, 3B, San Francisco Giants

Joining Bryant and Kang as a finalist, fellow third baseman Duffy was a lock at the hot corner for the Giants in 2015. His 4.9 WAR is second-best in San Francisco history for rookies, and he was a finalist in the 2015 Gold Glove race. Duffy is also the first Giant Rookie of the Year finalist since Buster Posey won in 2010.

He had the lowest strikeout total among the NL finalists, at 96, which is almost 100 fewer than favorite Kris Bryant. Unlike the other NL finalists, Duffy wasn’t a highly touted prospect, drafted in the 18th round in 2012. Even though Duffy isn’t likely to win, he will still be unstoppable at third base as the Giants look to win their fourth World Series in six years come 2016.