2018 Rookie of the Year Predictions

( Brad Mills | via USA TODAY Sports )

Rookie of the Year is the best way for fans to get a good look at the future of baseball. Every year, incredibly talented prospects are brought up and make huge impacts on the major league team. With a youth movement in the MLB, the award only keeps getting bigger. These are my 2018 Rookie of the Year predictions. Check back tomorrow for my Cy Young predictions!

National League Honorable Mentions:

Alex Verdugo — Dodgers OF

Why he will win –

Talent isn’t the question with Verdugo. Over 117 games with AAA Oklahoma City last season, he hit .314, stole 9 bases, and had more walks than strikeouts. In the field, playing both corner outfield spots, he didn’t commit a single error. He has all the tools to be a major contributor to the Dodgers in 2018.

Why he won’t win –

The Dodgers outfield is very crowded right now. They have 5 players all vying for playing time, and that is without Verdugo in the mix. If he struggles to find innings in the outfield, he may exhaust his rookie limits, and not have enough time to get put into the rookie of the year conversation.

Lewis Brinson — Marlins OF

Why he will win –

Lewis Brinson was dealt to the Marlins as the main return in the Christian Yelich deal. In just 76 games for the Brewers’ AAA team last season, he slashed .331/.400/.562 with 13 bombs and 11 stolen bases. Brinson has the tools to be an elite player. With the Marlins expected to win a record (low) number of games this year, he should have no trouble finding playing time in the outfield.

Why he won’t win –

Brinson struggled mightily last season when he was brought up to the big league club. In 21 games, he hit a putrid .106 with just 2 homers. If he can’t regain his form and start to read major league pitching better, then he will struggle with everyday at bats with the Marlins.

National League Darkhorse:

Victor Robles — Nationals OF

Why he will win –

It is hard to find a kid with more talent in the minor leagues than Robles. At just 20 years old, he made his debut with the Nationals last season after getting called up in September. He flashed the leather a number of times that really turned some heads, and held his own at the plate. He was only in AA last year when he got called up. He earned that promotion by slashing .324/.394/.489, along with 11 SB, in limited plate appearances in AA. If he gets the call this year, look for him to make the most of it.

Why he won’t win –

He will almost definitely start the year in the minors barring any major injuries to their starting outfield. Even if he’s pounding the ball in the minors, it might still be hard for him to find playing time. The Nationals will most likely try to pump the brakes on him as he’s only 20, and their starting outfield is set to start the year.

( Mark Lomoglioicon | via Sportswire )

National League Pick:

Ronald Acuna — Braves OF

Why he will win –

I said it was hard to find a kid with more talent than Robles, but not impossible. Enter Ronald Acuna. Last season in AAA, he slashed .344/.393/.548, with 9 homers and 11 SB in just 221 AB’s. He started in A+ and moved all the way to AAA last year, and figures to compete for the starting RF for the Braves to start the year. He has the potential to be a 5-tool superstar in the MLB, and we’ll see if he can have immediate success like many expect him to this season.

Why he won’t win –

There really isn’t a real knock on Acuna as the front runner for the award, unless he struggles mightily or doesn’t make the team out of camp. At just 20 years old, he could struggle to produce at the plate immediately.

American League Honorable Mentions:

Franklin Barreto — Athletics SS/2B

Why he will win –

Barreto hit a solid .290 with 15 bombs and 15 SBs last season in AAA, and proved his versatility in the field by playing SS and 2B. He will likely be in the A’s rotation early and figures to get a solid shot at starting everyday.

Why he won’t win –

He debuted at the tail end of last season, and did not impress during his 25 game audition. He hit a mere .197 and didn’t show much with -5 DRS in the field. He will need to turn it around to have a shot at this award.

Willie Calhoun — Rangers LF/2B

Why he will win –

Calhoun was the main return in the Yu Darvish to the Dodgers trade, and he mashed in AAA last year. Over the 2 teams he played for, he slashed .300/.355/.572, with 31 HRs and 93 RBIs, while playing LF and 2B for the Rangers AAA team. He will look to continue his forceful ways at the plate, and punish opposing pitchers every time through the lineup. The starting left field job will be his for the taking in Spring Training.

Why he won’t win –

Calhoun isn’t a great defender, but is serviceable. If for some reason he can’t find his grove at his new position, his fielding metrics may hurt him. Other than that, he looks like a solid candidate for this award.

American League Darkhorse:

Francisco Mejia — Indians C/3B

Why he will win –

Mejia is undoubtedly the most talented catcher in the Indians organization. He slashed .297/.346/.490 last year in AA. His defensive skills are still developing behind the plate, but he figures to eventually be a very good defender, with more experience, and a cannon for an arm.

Why he won’t win –

The Indians already have a serviceable duo of Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez behind the plate, so they won’t be in any hurry to rush Mejia if he isn’t ready. He struggles behind the plate at times, similar to Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, so that could set him back if he gets regulated to DH duties, which would take away his fielding value.

( Getty Images | via Yahoo! Sports )

American League Pick:

Shohei Ohtani — Angels SP/DH

Why he will win –

Ohtani will most likely make an impact on both sides for the Angels and many are expecting it to be at a very high level. He is a dual-threat for this award so even if he struggles on the mound, he can pick up the slack at the plate, and vice versa.

Why he won’t win –

The “Japanese Babe Ruth” could struggle to translate his skills in both areas and that could be detrimental to his chances. Not all players that come over from Japan have immediate success, so if he struggles out of the gate, he could fall behind in the race early.

Be sure to check out my Manager of the Year Predictions here:

Reed Zahradnik

University of Iowa '22. St. Louis Cardinals, 50 feet of crap, everyone else. Follow me on Twitter: @reed_zahradnik5

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