2021 Down Ballot Battles: NL Rookie of the Year

AL MVPAL Cy YoungAL Rookie of the Year
NL MVPNL Cy YoungNL Rookie of the Year


When people talk about award races at the end of every MLB season, they tend to focus on the top few candidates, specifically who should win. That’s more than understandable, as that [the winner] is the most important thing in a race. Yet ballots aren’t cast with just the top name listed. No, instead awards are decided on a points system where up to ten candidates are ranked, and more points are given for a higher place vote. With this being the case, more than the top candidates should be debated. That’s why I’m here.

I have, in my many spreadsheets, award races. Using an amalgam of stats from different sources, I then calculated my personalized version of WAR (hsWAR) for far too many candidates for each award. When voting for today’s award, NL Rookie of the Year, the BBWAA voters place 3 names on their ballot. To that end, I will list the top five candidates by hsWAR, as well as every subsequent candidate within the margin of error (1.00 hsWAR) of the 3rd place finisher. I’ll enumerate my final ballot decisions at the end of this article, but not before discussion of the down ballot names.

The Candidates

1Trevor Rogers4.1621.632
2Jonathan India3.4712.434
3Dylan Carlson2.372.833
4Ian Anderson2.254.915
5Tyler Stephenson2.258.255
6Patrick Wisdom2.047.104
7Ke’Bryan Hayes2.016.292
8Edmundo Sosa1.927.522
9Jazz Chisholm Jr.1.851.429
10David Bednar1.6812.099
11Frank Schwindel1.626.801
12Anthony Bender1.509.456

The Favorites

By my math, Rogers is pretty clearly the favorite. By betting odds, it’s easily India. Either way, these are obviously the top 2 candidates. They will come in first and second, likely with India winning due to his playing more consistently throughout the season. He would certainly be a deserving winner, but the inning-for-inning excellence of Rogers should keep him in the minds of every voter when it comes to first place consideration.

The Rest

Much like the AL, relievers lead the way when it comes to down-ballot candidates. Both Bednar and Bender were incredible this season, and pitched enough innings to keep pace with a lackluster field. The other, bigger names on this list, including Anderson, Carlson, and Hayes, produced similar value to the relievers, but got most of it from playing time rather than performance. They’re all fine choices for the third slot due to their blatant ceilings of talent, but the relievers were the best performers in 2021, especially Bednar.

The Decision

I didn’t struggle at all with this race. The first two were clear, as was their order. Then Bednar ran away with the last vote. I do wish I had room for Bender, but really this was an easy award ballot.

  1. Trevor Rogers, SP, Marlins
  2. Jonathan India, 2B, Reds
  3. David Bednar, RP, Pirates

Sean Huff

Sean is an applied psychology graduate student in his third semester at Fordham College of Arts and Sciences. He is a lifelong baseball fan with a nominal affinity for the Phillies. You can follow him on Twitter at @srhkthew2 for occasional comments on baseball and assorted esoterica.

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