- The Padres’ Jake Cronenworth continues to be the favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year
- Sixto Sanchez of the Marlins is putting together a late push
- See how their performances compare and who is the best bet with the season winding down
For weeks, it has seemed like a foregone conclusion that San Diego’s Jake Cronenworth was going to take home NL Rookie of the Year honors.
The second baseman is at or near the top of the charts in nearly every offensive category for NL rookies. But closing in is Miami’s Sixto Sanchez. The Marlins’ hurler has been nearly untouchable through five starts.
After a massive jump in Sanchez’s NL Rookie of the Year odds, could he be in position to steal some votes away from Cronenworth?
2020 NL Rookie of the Year Odds
|Player||Odds as of Sept 9||Odds as of Sept 15|
|Jake Cronenworth (2B, Padres)||-125||-110|
|Sixto Sanchez (P, Marlins)||+2500||+150|
|Alec Bohm (3B, Phillies)||+1500||+400|
|Ian Anderson (P, Braves)||N/A||+1200|
|Devin Williams (P, Brewers)||N/A||+1600|
Odds as of Sep. 15th.
Cronenworth first appeared in the NL Rookie of the Year odds on August 18, sandwiched between then-favorite Dustin May and David Peterson. On September 3rd, he moved into sole possession of top spot, sitting at -120 and improving to -125 six days later.
Sanchez, meanwhile, wasn’t on the board until early September, first appearing at +2500. A week later, he has vaulted into second.
What’s behind his massive movement?
Late Start Hurt Sanchez in NL Rookie of the Year Hunt
Despite the late start to the MLB season, Sanchez’s start was even later in 2020.
Sixto Sánchez is top 10 among all MLB pitchers in both walk rate and ground ball rate (min. 20 IP)
— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) September 14, 2020
Like so many other NL Rookie of the Year candidates, Sanchez simply hadn’t played enough to catch the attention of oddsmakers. But he’s been so good since getting called up on August 22nd that he’s impossible to ignore.
Sixto Sanchez Start-by-Start Breakdown
|Start||Innings Pitched||Result||Earned Runs||Strikeouts||Walks||Hits Allowed||BABiP|
|Aug. 22 vs Nationals||5.0||W, 5-3||3||4||0||6||.267|
|Aug. 28 vs Rays||7.0||L, 2-0||0||10||1||6||.400|
|Sept 2. vs Blue Jays||7.0||L, 2-1||2||5||0||6||.278|
|Sept 8. vs Braves||6.0||W, 8-0||0||6||1||3||.200|
|Sept. 13 vs Phillies||7.0||W, 2-1||1||4||3||3||.167|
Sanchez’s ground-ball percentage sits at 59.5% according to FanGraphs, which would have him second across all pitchers if he qualified. His hard-contact percentage would also fall in the top third.
But that’s the catch with his resume: there are a lot of ifs and woulds.
“This kid is a mini me with better stuff.” – @45PedroMartinez on Sixto Sánchez 👀
(MLB x @Woodbridge_Wine) pic.twitter.com/AIqwZqENHw
— MLB (@MLB) September 15, 2020
As it stands, Sanchez is fifth among NL rookies in innings pitched and strikeouts. His BB/9 is better than the four pitchers with more innings and his K/9 is better than three of them.
Conceivably, with more time, he’d be dominating bulk-based stats as well.
Cronenworth’s Consistency Dominates NL Rookie of the Year Race
The reason why Sanchez’s big move hit the rest of the field harder than Cronenworth is because his performance hasn’t dipped.
Even if it had, Cronenworth is at the point where he just needs to hang on.
Jake Cronenworth: September 9-14
Cronenworth has gone hit-less in back-to-back games just twice this season. His only major competition in most rookie-leader categories is the Phillies’ Alec Bohm. Cronenworth leads first-year players in runs, hits, doubles, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
Jake Cronenworth entered play today leading all of baseball in xBA, at .367. He’s actually hitting .324.
His xSLG entering today was an eighth-ranked .647, nearly 100 points above his actual SLG.
He’s been even better than it looks on paper.
— Manny Randhawa (@MannyOnMLB) September 15, 2020
He’s also played in 44 of the Padres’ 50 games, which is his biggest advantage over the field.
Sample Size is Key in NL Rookie of the Year Voting
While Cronenworth has the added bonus of playing for the Padres, baseball’s feel good story of 2020, he’s also had the most complete season.
There’s no denying that Sanchez has been dominant, and he will likely get three more starts to add to his case. But Cronenworth has ten games of his own.
Barring a monumental slide, he’ll wrap up his magical rookie year with some hardware.
The Pick: Jake Cronenworth (-110)