MLB Awards: Does Canada’s Mike Soroka have what it takes for ROY?

Canadian Mike Soroka joins Tim and Sid to talk about making a push for the MLB playoffs with the Atlanta Braves and the Calgary Flames.

A Canadian hasn’t won an MLB Rookie of the Year award since Jason Bay in 2004 while a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. That could change Monday night when the 2019 winners are announced with another young Canadian stud on the ballot.

Alberta’s own Mike Soroka is up against some tough competition in the National League in the record-setting Pete Alonso. Meanwhile in the AL, a Houston Astros slugger is the heavy favourite.

So who were Major League Baseball’s top rookies this season? Here’s a breakdown of each candidate.

NL Candidates

Peter Alonso, New York Mets
Position: 1B
2019 stats: GP: 161 | HR: 53 | RBI: 120 | AVG: .260 | OBP: .358 | SLG: .583 | 5.0 WAR

Alonso bursted onto the scene this season with massive, record-setting power. A torrid first half of the season earned him an appearance at the all-star game and spot in the Home Run Derby. He failed to disappoint on the international stage, belting the third most home runs in Derby history with 57 and topping Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 23-22 in the final round. Alonso was able to only build on it through the end of the season. It cumulated with an MLB rookie record 53rd home run in late September to surpass New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge in the category.

Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves
Position: SP
2019 stats: GS: 29 | W: 13 | L: 4 | IP: 174.2 | K: 142 | BB: 41 | ERA: 2.68 | 5.6 WAR

The Calgary native caught the attention of both Canada and MLB this year with his dominating performances finishing with the third best NL ERA. One of his most impressive feats was his ability to pitch well away from SunTrust Park by posting a 7-1 record and 1.55 ERA on the road. Those numbers were a big factor for why Braves manager Brian Snitker decided to start him in Game 3 of the NLDS against St. Louis and he didn’t disappoint, going seven innings and striking out seven to get the win. The six-foot-five, 225-pound righty was also able to locate his pitches well and limit opponents to an NL-best 0.7 HR/9 while earning a place at the all-star game.

Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
Position: SS
2019 stats: GP: 84 | HR: 22 | RBI: 53 | AVG: .317 | OBP: .379 | SLG: .590 | 4.2 WAR

The highly-touted Tatis Jr., showed he could do it all on the offensive side for the Padres. He posted an impressive average and hit for power, but was also a threat on the base path by stealing 16 times. Most of all, he was electric and showcased several highlight-reel plays at shortstop. A pair of stints on the injured list limited him to just 84 games but he will be a long-term piece for the Padres for years to come.

AL Candidates

Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros
Position: DH/OF
2019 stats: GP: 87 | HR: 27 | RBI: 78 | AVG: .313 | OBP: .412 | SLG: .655 | 3.7 WAR

Could we have two-straight years where a primarily designated hitter wins AL ROY? Alvarez raked for the World Series runner-up Astros since being recalled in early June as witnessed with his sky-high on-base and slugging percentages. Imagine the potential at the plate he could have with a full-season? The 22-year-old Cuban also made history by passing Shoeless Joe Jackson’s 1911 record of an 1.058 OPS by finishing the year at 1.067.

Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
Position: 1B, 2B, OF
2019 stats: GP: 82 | HR: 17 | RBI: 51 | AVG: .270 | OBP: .336 | SLG: .514 | 2.9 WAR

Lowe fell just short of qualifying for rookie of the year contention in 2018 and it was for the best as he posted great numbers for the AL-wild card winning Rays. Although he played most of his games at second base, his versatility can only be a plus and he committed just three errors all season for a .989 fielding percentage. A right shin bone bruise limited him to just 82 regular season games which hurt his chances at this award but he was still good enough to get an all-star nod.

John Means, Baltimore Orioles
Position: SP
2019 stats: GS: 27 | W: 12 | L: 11 | IP: 155.0 | K: 121 | BB: 38 | ERA: 3.60 | 4.6 WAR

The oldest “rookie” on the list at 26-year-old, Means provided stability on an otherwise very bad Orioles team. Reminder: the Orioles had a 5.59 ERA overall as a pitching staff. He won’t blow his 92 m.p.h. fastball by you with his southpaw release, but he knows how to get outs as he limited hitters to a .234 average over the course of the season. Means’s WAR of 4.6 was also the ninth best in the American League and his 1.14 WHIP was very good.

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