The Miami Marlins have settled on giving Jose Fernandez only two more starts this year, starting with tonight's tilt at home versus the Washington Nationals. This is as good a time as any to check in and update the National League Rookie of the Year Power Rankings and see where we stand with just two appearances left for Fernandez this year.
1. Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins (Last week: 1)
Fernandez's latest performance, a six-inning, two-run outing with eight strikeouts against the Atlanta Braves, was not what kept him at the top. Rather, it was the fact that he just recently won his second consecutive Rookie of the Month award, meaning his name was out there in the relative spotlight again. Fernandez won the award with perhaps the best pitching month in baseball, so he earned a well-deserved honor. It also fuels the cause for voters to pick him over his closest, and truly only, competitor.
Fernandez also recently received a nice little biopic video interview on MLB.com, which pictured him as a humble young man with a wonderful joy for the game. In any other year, his candidacy, even with a month off, would be a slam dunk given both his spectacular performance and his outward fun-loving character.
But this is not any other year.
2. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: 2)
Puig is still Puig-ing on a daily basis, only adding to his on-field legend of 2013. Just two months ago, this race was over and Puig was the slam-dunk candidate to win, but Fernandez's amazing July and August have really forced the hands of voters who would have otherwise given him the award after June.
It is not for a lack of trying. Since the start of July, Puig is hitting a perfectly acceptable .307/.383/.488, with improving plate discipline and seven homers to his name. It is just that his hot start in June was so amazing that it has overcome the "just good" last few months, making his overall line still among the best in baseball.
But think about this: in the midst of Puig-mania, with the baseball media focused on him almost every day, Fernandez was the one who won the Rookie of the Month awards in the National League. That tells you that voters are recognizing that Fernandez's performance for the last two months has simply been better than Puig's,
But that does not mean that, at the end of the year, Puig will not still come out on top. Fernandez has just two more appearances to make himself look good. Puig is in the stretch run for the playoffs and will likely influence voters if the Dodgers have any strong finish on their way to the NL West crown. Despite all the negative media publicity regarding his so-called bad attitude, his performance in September, while Fernandez is cheering from the bench, will speak for itself.
3. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: 4)
Ryu's last start featured more of the same against the San Diego Padres, which pushed his stock up slightly over his next competitor. Unfortunately for him and the next three guys on the list, Fernandez and Puig are such ridiculously strong candidates that there is essentially zero chance that any player other than those two would win. In a normal year, such as what appeared to be going on at the start of the season, Ryu would be a perfect candidate to snag the victory, since he is on a playoff team and is playing very well this year, even for an old rookie. But this is no normal rookie year.
4. Julio Teheran, SP, Atlanta Braves (Last week: 5)
Teheran gets the nod here by virtue of who he beat in his last start: a duel versus Jose Fernandez that led to a one-run outing in 6 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts. That led to his 11th pitcher win of the season, giving him a competitive total next to the other four starters. In any other year, this probably would be good enough, and the performance versus the hapless Marlins offense opposite of Fernandez was a nice boost. But this is no ordinary rookie year, and the body of work of Fernandez far outweighs what Teheran has been able to do in a few more innings.
5. Shelby Miller, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (Last week: 3)
So Shelby Miller has had some bad starts, and his candidacy has fallen a little by the wayside because of it. His two recent starts totaled 10 innings and six strikeouts versus seven walks, which shows his struggles as of late. Combine that with the fantastic play of the other rookies and you are looking at a guy who peaked too early in the game and is having a hard time maintaining innings and performance in the stretch run.
More from Fish Stripes:
- Marlins History: Josh Johnson earns his 14th win as the Marlins squeak by the Nationals.
- The return of Chris Coghlan and the Miami Marlins' future at third base
- Marlins video: Jose Fernandez talks about his rookie experiences
- Marlins September call-ups: Examining Brian Flynn's first start
- Marlins news: Jose Fernandez wins second Rookie of the Month award