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What will it take for Trevor Rogers to rally for NL Rookie of the Year?

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Rogers will have (at most) one month of competition to remind the voters what makes him special.

Photo by Danis Sosa/Fish Stripes

Trevor Rogers’ return to the Marlins rotation is finally in sight. The menacing left-hander who’s been absent throughout the month of August due to a family emergency looked like his usual self during Tuesday’s rehab start with Low-A Jupiter. He stretched out to 55 pitches while striking out half of the 12 batters he faced. He’s got another minor league tune-up scheduled for Sunday, then ought to rejoin the Marlins active roster to pitch the following weekend.

Is the National League Rookie of the Year award still a realistic goal for him?

The 2021 NL All-Star had been the clear frontrunner throughout the first half of the season. However, the best sports betting sites as featured on betninjas now agree that Reds second baseman Jonathan India has seized that distinction.

India, like Rogers, is a former first-round draft pick (2018) who made a fairly quick ascent to the majors despite the inconvenience of 2020’s cancelled MiLB season. He squeezed onto Cincinnati’s Opening Day roster on the strength of a productive spring training, but spent most of April and May hiding in plain sight, never batting higher than sixth in their batting order.

Then from June 3-6, India led the Reds to a rare four-game road series sweep of the Cardinals, slashing .538/.667/1.154 in those contests. He has been thriving ever since.

Without the adversity of injuries or personal crises, India has accrued much more playing time than Rogers. He enters Thursday with 484 plate appearances in 117 Reds games, plus 492 defensive chances at second base; Rogers, meanwhile, has faced only 450 batters with 21 defensive chances and doesn’t impact his team as a baserunner like his fellow NL ROY contender does.

Miami’s southpaw is, in most people’s opinions, the superior individual talent. Wins Above Replacement backs that up—Rogers is tied with India in the FanGraphs version (3.3 fWAR) and a half-win ahead on Baseball-Reference (3.1 rWAR to 2.6 rWAR) even after a month of inactivity. Cincinnati’s 24-year-old has all the momentum, though, as the everyday leadoff hitter on a legitimate NL Wild Card contender.

Miami Marlins second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. (2) talks with Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (6) in the eighth inning at Great American Ball Park
Standout NL rookies Jonathan India and Jazz Chisholm Jr.
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The best-case scenario for Rogers at this point is he gets activated from the restricted list on Friday, September 3. Pitching on regular rest from there on out (every five games), he can add six starts’ worth of production to the 20 he has already made. If the Marlins take a more cautious approach and/or utilize a six-man rotation, he’ll be limited to five outings.

Rogers’ case will be extremely similar to that of eventual 2014 award winner Jacob deGrom. When available, he’s been elite in terms of both run prevention and peripheral stats. Unfortunately for Rogers, India is in the midst of a better year than any NL player from deGrom’s rookie class.

Dark horse candidates to keep in mind include Ian Anderson (Braves), Patrick Wisdom (Cubs), Dylan Carlson (Cardinals) and Rogers’ Marlins teammate Jazz Chisholm Jr. No matter what happens on the field down the stretch, Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters will need to think long and hard when filling out their ballots.

Poll

Who will win 2021 NL Rookie of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Trevor Rogers
    (48 votes)
  • 54%
    Jonathan India
    (91 votes)
  • 4%
    Jazz Chisholm Jr.
    (7 votes)
  • 13%
    Other
    (22 votes)
168 votes total Vote Now