The crop of rookies across baseball in 2015 was arguably one of the best in Major League history, featuring a talented group of position players. Top prospects were promoted seemingly every week and making an immediate impact on postseason races.
The winners of the Baseball Writers' Association of America Rookie of the Year Awards in both the National League and American League will be announced Monday night at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network. The Cubs' Kris Bryant, the Pirates' Jung Ho Kang and the Giants' Matt Duffy are the three finalist in the NL, while the Indians' Francisco Lindor, the Astros' Carlos Correa and the Twins' Miguel Sano compete for AL honors.
Bryant enters as a heavy favorite in the NL race, and his victory Monday seems to be a fait accompli. The Chicago third baseman created a stir by leading the Majors in home runs during Spring Training, but he spent a little more than week in the Minors anyway to start the season. Bryant proved why he belonged from the moment he was promoted on April 17.
Bryant led all rookies in fWAR (6.5), RBIs (99), doubles (31) and runs (87), tied for first among NL rookies in homers (26) while batting .275/.369/.488. The only other player in Major League history to reach at least 26 homers, 99 RBIs, 31 doubles, 87 runs and 77 walks in his rookie season was Boston's Ted Williams in 1939.
Opposing Bryant will be Kang from the division-rival Pirates, who was putting together a strong first season after coming over from the Korea Baseball Organization before he suffered a season-ending injury in September. He hit .287/.355/.461 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs. Kang was worth 4.0 Wins Above Replacement, the fourth-highest total on the Bucs behind Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole.
The biggest surprise to be on this list is Duffy, who did not appear in any top prospect lists at the start of the season but played his way into the Giants' everyday lineup as the season progressed. He hit .295/.334/.428 with 12 homers and finished with a 4.9 fWAR, second among NL rookies. Duffy batted .366 with runners in scoring position, second in the NL to Colorado's Nolan Arenado (.373), and his 91 hits after the All-Star break were also second in the NL.
The race in the AL, however, is a topic for debate between two of the game's terrific young shortstops.
On one hand stands Lindor, an elite defender at shortstop who also helped energize the Indians' lineup.
Lindor had 10 Defensive Runs Saved, the most among all AL shortstops despite not being promoted until May 20. Among the 18 AL shortstops with at least 400 innings played, his 18.9 UZR/150 ranked first. Lindor's defense dramatically turned around the Indians, who had minus-25 Defensive Runs Saved as a team at the time of his callup and ended 2015 with 18 DRS, which ranked third in the AL.
Lindor's offense improved as the year went on as well. Following the All-Star break, he hit at an AL-best .345 clip and churned out the third-most hits (99) in the league. When it was all said and done, Lindor fashioned a 4.6 fWAR.
Correa made his debut on June 8, and like Lindor, he quickly became one of the best shortstops in baseball.
Correa was the youngest position player in the big leagues in 2015, playing most of the season at 20 years old. He hit .279/.345/.512 with 22 home runs, 22 doubles, 68 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and an .857 OPS in only 99 games. Among AL rookies, Correa ranked first in homers, slugging percentage (.512) and OPS, while ranking second in RBIs and on-base percentage (.345) and third in batting average.
That's not to make light of the terrific season from Sano. The young slugger emerged as one of the Twins' best hitters after being promoted July 2, batting .269/.385/.530 with 18 homers, 17 doubles and 52 RBIs in 80 games. Sano's on-base percentage and slugging percentage led all AL rookies, while his 18 homers ranked second to Correa.