More and more, baseball is becoming a young man’s game once again.
NL Rookie of the Year candidates
Every year, we see rookies come up and make an immediate impact in the big leagues. Despite an odd 2020 campaign, there’s no reason to think the 2021 season will be any different.
Having said that, let’s check out some of the leading NL Rookie of the Year contenders for 2021.
Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates
As the son of a longtime big leaguer, Ke’Bryan Hayes has the pedigree of a future star. After making his MLB debut last year, he was one of the few bright spots on Pittsburgh’s team, hitting .376 with 14 extra-base hits in 24 games, posting an OPS of 1.124. Fast forward to 2021 and Hayes has been hitting everything during spring training.
The problem is he won’t have much help in Pittsburgh’s lineup and won’t get much attention while playing for the lowly Pirates. But Hayes has to be considered the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year in the National League.
Ian Anderson, Braves
Thanks to a few injuries in the Atlanta rotation, Ian Anderson got his debut in the majors as a 22-year-old last year. He failed to disappoint, pitching to a 1.95 ERA over six starts.
He was even better during the postseason, giving up two runs on 11 hits over 18.2 innings and going 2-0 in four starts.
Needless to say, he’ll be one of the headliners in the Atlanta rotation this season. Assuming he stays healthy and makes close to 30 starts, he’ll be in the Rookie of the Year conversation.
Joey Bart, Giants
Despite struggling at the plate during the shortened 2020 season, Bart is hitting over .400 during spring training and looks ready to start emulating his predecessor.
Sixto Sanchez, Marlins
Sixto Sanchez got his chance with the upstart Marlins last season and was nothing short of dazzling.
In two of his seven starts last year, he pitched at least six shutout innings. Those games came against the Rays and Braves, two of the last four teams left in the playoffs.
The upside that Sanchez possesses is undeniable. He’s certainly looked the part during spring training, which should make it impossible for the Marlins to keep him out of their starting rotation. That will give him the opportunity to make a run at Rookie of the Year honors.
Dylan Carlson, Cardinals
Dylan Carlson came to the majors last year with a lot of hype but fell short of expectations.
In 35 games, he hit just .200, albeit with 11 extra-base hits. But he’s still just 22 years old and still has the potential to be an impact player in the majors. His play during spring training has made the Cardinals feel a little better about his future. While he has a lot to prove, Carlson undoubtedly has the talent to be Rookie of the Year if he can put last year’s struggles behind him.