Can KC Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr. become the AL Rookie of the Year?
Those who proclaimed Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. the American League Rookie of the Year before the season’s first pitch was even in the air may not have figured Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez into the equation.
If they didn’t, they should have.
Although he’s missed time with a wrist and lower back issues (he’s been on the IL since Sept. 23 with the latter), Rodríguez has bona fide ROY credentials and is probably the favorite to win the award. He’s slashing .280/.342/.502 and has 27 home runs, 73 RBIs and 25 stolen bases to go with 24 doubles and three triples.
But Witt’s numbers are comparable and make him a reasonable ROY choice. He has seven fewer homers, but seven more RBIs (80), seven more doubles (31), three more triples (six), and three more stolen bases (28) than Rodríguez, which could make a ROY race between them neck-and-neck.
Witt’s detractors will, however, argue his numbers are a product of 13 more games (142 to 129), and what he does while Rodríguez is sidelined shouldn’t count. And they’ll surely bemoan Witt’s .257/.296/.442 line.
Others will say Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman (.256/.361/.447 with 12 homers, 40 RBIs and four stolen bases in 104 games) or Cleveland’s Steven Kwan (.298/.373/.400 with six homers and 19 steals in 139 games) are better candidates.
Whether those arguments ultimately prevail remains to be seen. But Witt can certainly improve his case with nine hot final games.
The effort will be well worth watching.
Keep your eyes on the Royals as they finish the season.