2021 Down Ballot Battles: AL 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, AL 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

1Luis Garcia3.52
2Randy Arozarena3.46
3Shane McClanahan2.85
4Adolis García2.76
5Emmanuel Clase2.73
6Alek Manoah2.60
7Wander Franco2.44
8Chas McCormick2.26
9Garrett Whitlock2.25
10Akil Baddoo2.19
11Casey Mize2.05
12Tanner Houck2.02

The Favorites

This is in my mind, and I assume the minds of the voters as well, a two-horse race between Garcia (the pitcher) and Arozarena. Using straight hsWAR is pointless, as the 0.06 margin of separation between them may as well be non-existent. With Rookie of the Year, however, that’s not so much of a problem. I don’t view Rookie of the Year as being just the MVP for rookies; I view it as being a combination of that and simply an award for the rookie that performed the best. In the first viewpoint, Garcia and Arozarena are basically tied. In the second, runs above average is more educational than runs above replacement. Using this basis, here’s the comparison between the two rookies:


Alright then. These two are exactly the same. It’s dealer’s (or voter’s) choice how to order them.

The Re-Rank

I just discussed preferring to look at both hsWAR and hsRAA when it comes to Rookie of the Year voting. To that end, I decided it was a good idea to rewrite the initial table of the rest of the candidates including the above-average component.


The Discussion

The re-ranked table was quite disappointing. I was hoping the race would be close, allowing me to consider the virtues of relievers against everyday players and the generational greatness of Wander. Instead, there’s a clear victor for the third slot. I’m not going against a gap that large.

The Decision

This ended up pretty cut and dry. I’m also shocked by the results. I went into this award expecting to find a way to hand Wander my first place vote, and maybe leave Arozarena off the ballot. That isn’t what happened in the slightest.

  1. Randy Arozarena, OF, Rays
  2. Luis Garcia, SP, Astros
  3. Emmanuel Clase, RP, Guardians

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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