Where do Yasiel Puig & Hyun Jin Ryu stand in the 2013 Rookie Of The Year chase?

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After yesterday’s seven-inning, no-run (earned, at least) gem against the Cardinals dropped Hyun Jin Ryu‘s ERA below 3.00, it got me thinking about Don Mattingly‘s recent comments that he was underrated in the Rookie Of The Year chase.

As far as Ryu’s rookie-of-the-year candidacy, it has the backing of Manager Don Mattingly.

“I think he should be considered,” Mattingly said.

Ryu has won his last four decisions and the Dodgers have won the last seven games that he has started. Ryu’s most recent loss was June 19 in New York against the Yankees.

“I think he’s been underrated,” Mattingly said. “I don’t hear a lot of people talking about him.”

Mattingly said Ryu has probably been overshadowed by rotation mates Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, as well as fellow Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig.

Or in the bigger picture, it got me thinking about where the Dodger rookie duo of Ryu and Yasiel Puig currently stood in the race, as both are legitimate contenders.

Looking at the rest of the league, this has been a heck of a year for National League rookies, pitchers in particular. Not only are Puig and Ryu in the middle of things, but so are Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, Tony Cingrani, and Trevor Rosenthal.

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Note: A.J. Pollock, Nolan Arenado, and Didi Gregorious all deserve mentions, but their WAR is primarily based on a SSS of defensive metrics, and all have a wOBA that comes in around .300, so it’s hard to argue their case against this crop. Evan Gattis is up there too, but with limited playing time and regression with the bat, it’s been a bad year to debut in terms of Rookie Of The Year.

After looking at the impressive chart of ROY candidates and going back to Mattingly’s comments, it’s hard to argue his contention that Ryu’s underrated. Most Dodger fans are acutely aware that he’s been the second-best pitcher on the staff all year long, but he’s gotten very little in the form of the national attention. I figured he could be a #3 starter eventually, but he has already slid comfortably into that role and is approaching #2/#3 status in his first year. Still only in his age 26 season, that bodes well for now and later.

So much for those worries about him being a reliever.

That said, if I had a vote, it would go: 1) Yasiel Puig 2) Jose Fernandez 3) Shelby Miller with Hyun Jin Ryu right behind. But I think they’re all interchangeable to an extent, especially at the top. By the end of the season, I could see a scenario where they are all so close performance-wise that it would be hard to make a compelling case for one over the other. And the only thing that could be said for sure is that the amount of young talent coming up in the NL this year is staggering.

At that point, where it’s hard to definitively choose a candidate based on numbers, it all just comes down to personal preference, and that’s where problems arise for Puig and Ryu. Puig is no media darling because of the way he plays, and Ryu isn’t either because he’s overshadowed by teammates. Additionally, they split votes with each other by being on the same team, and both of them may not be seen as true rookies (much like some Japanese players aren’t). So even if they’re deserving, it might be hard for one to win it unless their numbers separate themselves from the pack completely, which looks increasingly unlikely.

But regardless of awards and whatever else that’s subjective, the fact that two Dodgers are in the running for the ROY bodes well for a team that has had a slumping farm system of late and hasn’t won a ROY since 1996. While the Dodgers current run of success is amazing, the young talent that’s both already here and coming up through the ranks should also be a significant part of the excitement in the Dodgers resurgence in 2013, as it gives hope for both the present and future.

About Chad Moriyama

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