Ask most casual baseball fans who the think the NL Rookie of the year is going to be this season and they will likely say New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso. Why? Well, because they heard his name a lot the last few days after the show he put on during the Home Run Derby.
Derby aside, Alonso is a deserving player who also happens to have the shortest odds to win coming out of the All-Star break. His odds and his primary competition, according to 888sport, are as follows:
- Pete Alonso -200
- Fernando Tatis, Jr. +275
- Michael Soroka +600
- Chris Paddack, Alex Verdugo +1100
- Victor Robles +1600
- Austin Riley +2500
- Bryan Reynolds +2800
- Garrett Cooper, Merrill Kelly, Nick Senzel +4000
Alonso will be in the forefront of the minds of many right now because of the Home Run Derby. But heading into the All-Star break, he was hitting .280 on the season, slugging .634, and had an OPS of 1.006. He is tied for second in the NL for home runs with 30 and is tied for third in RBIs with 68—and he’s getting better as the season goes on.
Unlike many power hitters, his batting average has not suffered in the process. The month of May wasn’t a strong one for him (.232). But he rebounded nicely in June (.307) and hit .316 in the five games in July before the break.
At the rate he is going, he will probably crush Aaron Judge’s rookie home run record (52; at his current pace, Alonso will end the season with 54)—which will definitely make him a strong candidate. But Fernando Tatis Jr. is not going to let him run away with the award.
Tatis entered the season with high expectations and is well on his way to living up to them even though an injury forced him to miss all of May and part of June. But in the 55 games he did play in he has hit .327 with a slugging percentage of .620 and an OPS of 1.013.
He has 14 home runs to his name, eight of which he hit since coming back from his injury. Due to the five weeks he missed, he may need Alonso to miss some time or hit a slump to improve his chances.
Okay—so there are two good candidates in Alonso and Tatis, Jr. But are there more?
Riley’s season started with a ton of promise, but he has definitely cooled down since then. Robles came into the season as a potential favorite to win, but since he is hitting just .246 at the break, it would take a monster second half to make him a contender.
Alex Verdugo is hitting well (.303) but his power numbers are lacking. The same could be said about Bryan Reynolds (who is hitting .342).
But is there another legitimate candidate or is it a two-person race? Actually—it should be a three-man race. Braves rookie pitcher Mike Soroka deserves to be in the conversation. At the break, he has a 9-1 record, a 2.42 ERA, and has held opponents to two runs or less in 11 of 15 starts.
It will likely come down to Alonso and Tatis, but if Soroka continues to pitch well and the Braves make the playoffs, he will be a legit candidate.