With it being another hot humid day in early August, here’s another baseball post with hockey on hiatus. The topic is National League Rookie Of The Year. For a second straight summer, the Mets have a prime candidate in flame thrower Noah Syndergaard. The 22-year old Texan improved to 6-5 on Sunday night going eight allowing two earned with two walks and nine strikeouts in the Amazin’s sweep of the Nationals.
Syndergaard was acquired with starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud from the Blue Jays for former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, who still pitches for Toronto. Syndergaard was a Jays’ 2010 first round pick who they included with d’Arnaud for Dickey. A steep price to pay. It hasn’t exactly worked out yet with the Jays in desperation mode sacrificing more top prospects for Troy Tulowitzki and David Price. They’re all in to try to catch the Yankees for the AL East or beat out the Twins, Orioles and other teams for the second wildcard which they currently hold. While Toronto tries to make its first postseason since ’93 when Joe Carter’s Game 6 walk off home run helped them repeat, the Mets continue their push towards the postseason.
So far, so good for Syndergaard whose ERA is down to 2.66 with his 100 K’s in 94 and two-thirds innings ranking second among rookies in the senior circuit behind Giants hurler Chris Heston, whose big highlight was no-hitting the Mets. Heston is also a NL ROY candidate leading all first-year pitchers with 11 wins plus a 3.24 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 130 and two thirds. Syndergaard and Heston are the two pitchers going up against sluggers Joc Pederson, Kris Bryant and Giants’ third baseman Matt Duffy.
With Pederson, the Dodgers’ center fielder has the power pacing all rookies with 21 home runs. However, he’s slumped badly in the second half and is hitting only .223 with 128 strikeouts. Cubs rookie Bryant has 14 dingers and leads with 61 RBI’s while swiping 10 bases manning the hot corner. He also doesn’t have a high average at .246 and has 126 K’s. If you prefer average, Duffy is the most well rounded hitting .301 with nine dingers and 48 RBI’s. He’s replaced Pablo Sandoval at third with solid production for San Francisco.
Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco is also in the mix hitting .283 with 11 long balls and 40 RBI’s. But he’s cooled off after a hot stretch. Cards outfielder Randal Grichuk has swung a good bat recently with five of his dozen home runs coming over the last 15 games. He’s .291-12-38 with 19 doubles and seven triples. Yasmany Thomas and Preston Tucker have also had good seasons but need big finishes to be considered.
So, where does Syndergaard stack up? If he keeps pitching well and racking up wins down the home stretch, he has a good chance to become the second consecutive Met to win the NL’s top rookie. It was Jacob deGrom who took the award last year going 9-6 in 22 starts with a 2.69 ERA with 144 K’s in 140 and a third. He easily outdistanced Cincinnati speedster Billy Hamilton receiving 26 of 30 first place votes. Ironically, the Amazin’s had three players in the top 10 including d’Arnaud and current closer Jeurys Familia.
Syndergaard has been better than Heston and more consistent than Bryant or Pederson. Maybe it comes down to him versus Duffy. Whoever can finish strong could leap to the front. For Mets fans, they haven’t seen rookies go back-to-back since the glory days of the 80’s with Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden winning it in ’83 and ’84. The backbone of the 1986 World Champs. Could a third championship finally be coming back to Flushing? You Gotta Believe.