Overall, there's no touching Sandy Alcántara when it comes to Rookie of the Year honors for the Marlins in 2019. The young right-hander has posted a 3.95 ERA over 31 starts, setting the Marlins rookie record for innings pitched in the process. His 2.90 ERA since August shows that he is getting better, and the two complete game shutouts that he has thrown are two of the top highlights of Miami's season.
The fact that Alcántara is the overwhelming favorite for the “award” is a testament to his consistency and tangible development over the course of the year and not a knock on the other Marlins rookies who have had noteworthy seasons in 2019. In particular, utility man Jon Berti and outfielder Harold Ramirez are battling it out for top offensive rookie on the team. Neither player entered the year as a big-name prospect, but they have both taken the opportunity that the Marlins handed to them and run with it. While they have vastly different skill-sets, the pair have brought significant value to the team.
Which player currently has the edge?
Harold Ramirez hit for a .320 average over 120 games in Double-A for the Blue Jays as a 23-year-old in 2018, and then .381 in the Venezuelan Winter League, but never figured to be part of Toronto's future plans. After being released, the Marlins signed him as a minor league free agent on December 3—an intriguing move which had little to no risk, and potentially high rewards. After a strong Spring Training and then hitting .355 over 120 plate appearances for the Baby Cakes to start the season, Ramirez caught the Marlins’ attention. In light of Lewis Brinson's struggles at the major league level, he was called up to make his debut on May 11, and immediately became a spark plug for a struggling offense.
For the months of May and June he hit .307 with a .343 OBP, becoming a fringe NL Rookie of the Year candidate in some circles thanks to his play at the plate and a series of spectacular defensive performances. Unfortunately, the Venezuelan cooled off big time in July. He has since recovered to post an overall slash line of .271/.309/.404 with 10 homers and 49 RBIs. His 110 hits rank fifth on the team, and ninth-best in the majors for a rookie.
While the likes of Monte Harrison and Jesus Sánchez are coming fast, Harold Ramirez appears to be a player that the Marlins can count on to continue contributing in the future.
Over a much smaller sample size, Jon Berti may have had more of an impact on the Marlins due to his game-changing speed, which has brought a different dynamic to the team. In fact, the 29-year-old has become the most prolific base-stealer in franchise history as part of a lineup that hardly runs despite above-average athletic ability overall. Berti has power, too, with 21 of his 66 hits going for extra bases (six homers, 14 doubles, one triple). Primarily holding a reserve role for much of the season, Berti has earned more and more playing time as the year has progressed—thanks to an impressive .273/.349/.413 slash line in 2019—and has recently been starting almost every night in a variety of positions.
Jon Berti is 16-for-17 on stolen base attempts! His 94.1% success rate is the highest in any season in Marlins history with 15+ attempts.— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) September 25, 2019
The definition of a late bloomer, Berti has been a pleasant surprise for the Marlins, and could be an ace in hole until the full complement of top prospects reach the majors.
Jon Berti has been taking the super-sub role to the next level and has posted slightly better numbers, but Harold Ramírez has produced over a larger sample size in a more consistent role. The two players are hard to compare on paper due to the different ways that they impact the game. Deciding between them for Marlins offensive Rookie of the Year is a tough task.
If one of the two has a huge series against the Phillies to close the season, it may just swing the vote in their favor.