One of the most heated debates in baseball isn't who's going to win the MVP this year. Sure, we could talk for days on why I'm picking whom over whom, but when it all comes down to business, it'll likely be Mike Trout in the American League and either Clayton Kershaw or Giancarlo Stanton in the National League. But there is one awards race where many people are differing.
That race is the National League Rookie of the Year race. There are two main contenders -- Reds' speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton or Mets' right-hander Jacob deGrom. deGrom has broken onto the major league scene this season, and the 26-year-old and former 9th round pick (2010) has been quite a story. He made his first start on May 15 and the rest is history. Hamilton, on the other hand, was called up at the end last season, and was the clear favorite to win the award at the beginning of the year. His speed and defense could win him the award, but his hitting has not been as good as people thought.
Hamilton, 24, has played in 145 games totaling 588 plate appearances. He's hit .258/.298/.366 with six home runs and 48 runs batted in. Hamilton has stolen 56 bases, good for second in the National League (Dee Gordon, 62 stolen bases), but has only had a 72 percent success rate, as catchers have thrown him out a National League leading 22 times. A batter that has a .258 batting average and a .298 on-base percentage, however, does not deserve to be winning any awards.
However, there is an argument for Hamilton as well. His 3.4 fWAR ranks 25th (of hitters) in the National League and third of all rookies (first in the National League) in the majors. In terms of base running, Hamilton's base running runs above average (BsR) is 7.0, which, according to FanGraphs.com, makes him the sixth-best base runner in the major leagues overall. Defensively, Hamilton has a 17.2 defense rating, which is eighth of all fielders in the major leagues, and second only to Jason Heyward of outfielders.
As for deGrom, he is 8-6 with a 2.68 ERA, 2.72 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and a 1.139 WHIP in 21 starts. He's struck out 134 hitters and walked only 40 in 134 1/3 innings. His last start yesterday against the Miami Marlins may have sealed him the award. He went seven innings, allowing six hits, three runs (all earned), striking out thirteen, walking only one. If that isn't Rookie of the Year worthy, I'm not sure what is. deGrom ranks 16th in the major leagues in ERA of pitchers with a minimum 100 innings pitched. His FIP ranks 12th in the majors.
As compared to other rookie pitchers, deGrom ranks third in the major leagues in ERA and tops among National League rookies. In terms of pitcher's fWAR, deGrom is still tops in the National League with a 2.8 fWAR, but is fourth in the majors overall. Of his starts this season, 76 percent (16 of 21) have been quality starts (six innings or longer, three earned runs allowed or less).
Of the two options, deGrom would be my choice for National League Rookie of the Year. He is so far ahead of all fellow National League rookies in his class. deGrom has shown a magic in his stuff and performance this year that has been hard to quantify, but the numbers don't lie either. I feel that people are talking about him and his dominance more than Hamilton's. deGrom is 26-years-old and has been masterful this season, as only three of his 21 starts have allowed four earned runs or more. He's had seven starts that have allowed zero runs and every one has gone six innings or longer.
Jacob deGrom is my pick for the National League Rookie of the Year.