Each league has a deep pool of Rookie of the Year candidates.
As we near the end of the 2023 MLB regular season, it's a good time to start forecasting Rookie of the Year contenders. Here are my top three in the American and National League:
1. Masataka Yoshida
Masataka Yoshida has made an immediate impact in the bigs this year after coming over from Japan. This was not a surprise to me: if you watched him in the World Baseball Classic you had a feeling he could be a special baseball player. After a slow start to 2023 he has really heated up down the stretch. He is 5th in batting average in the American League, hitting .295. Much of the season he has spent comfortably over 300 but he has hit a little bit of a slump over the last month or so of games. Expect him to bounce back and get back to hitting the ball hard for Boston. They potentially have another star in the making.
2. Josh Jung
Josh Jung was off to a staggering start to his career before an injury derailed his season. In 109 games he is hitting .274 with 22 bombs and 67 RBI, excellent numbers for a rookie in the bigs. He has been on the IL for about a month now and he had surgery on his left thumb a few weeks ago. He should be back by playoffs if the slumping Rangers are able to squeak in. The biggest thing that will hold Jung back is the fact that he got hurt and will miss most of the final stretch of the season.
3. Gunnar Henderson
Henderson has really hit his stride after a scorching hot June in which he put up a .994 OPS. He is a big part of this breakout Orioles squad that has the second best record in the entire league and the best record in the AL. The rookie infielder is hitting .254 with 23 bombs, has 70 RBI, and has scored 81 times. Gunnar Henderson is going to help lead this Orioles squad for years to come.
1. Corbin Carroll
Carroll has run away with this race in the NL. He is hitting .280 with 99 runs scored, 24 home runs, 68 RBI and 41 stolen bases. He is third in the Majors in stolen bags and is arguably the fastest man in baseball. He was drafted out of high school and is only 23 years old. He hit a big slump over the last month where he batted just .234 but is coming out of it hitting .349 in his last 20 games. As Carroll goes the D-backs go. They've hid a rough patch but are still very much in the playoff picture, especially with Carroll getting hot as of late.
2. Elly De La Cruz
Elly broke out onto the scene as quickly as anyone could possibly imagine. He hit for the cycle in just his 15th game in MLB. He has definitely cooled off a little bit, but he is still turning in a strong rookie season, hitting .244 with a .731 OPS, 11 jacks, and 26 steals. He is a must-watch player who is great for MLB, with a very flashy style that draws lots of attention. He is also leading the Reds to a surprising playoff push. Elly has a bright future and will likely lead the Reds to many playoff berths and potentially become a future MVP.
3. Matt McLain
The former UCLA shortstop has hit the ground running in the show. Matt McClain has put together quite a stellar year. He is hitting .290 over 89 games and with 16 bombs and 63 runs scored. He has consistently been over .300 this entire season and is just coming out of a slump that brought his average below .300. He easily could be #1 or #2 on this list most years, especially with his slash line, while also playing stellar defense. He has a case to at least be #2 over De La Cruz.