If you’ve been paying attention to baseball this season, then you know the future is bright. During the course of 2015 so much young talent has entered the majors. Nowhere is that reality more evident than in the American League Rookie of the Year race. There is some stiff competition for the award this season. What follows is a discussion on the leaders in this race based on the numbers.

Honorable Mention: Delino DeShields, Eddie Rosario, Greg Bird, Billy Burns

3. Miguel Sano

Preseason Prospect Rankings: 13 (Baseball America), 11 (MLB.com), 12 (Baseball Prospectus)

When most fans talked about Twins prospects, the conversation usually started with Byron Buxton. However, Sano is the Twins rookie putting together the most impressive debut season. Sano has played in 76 games this year, and the majority of the time he has been a DH. As of Thursday night he’s hitting .275/.390/.551. His wRC+ of 157 leads all of the players mentioned on this list. Offensively he is on an absolute tear.

He does sport a worse than league average K% (35.8), but his BB% (15.7) and OBP are both above league average. Of the three players mentioned in this list, he does have the lowest fWAR total (2.2). Sano is having a great offensive season, but it is going to be tough for him to win the award with what the following two players have done on both sides of the ball. If I’m a Twins fan I’m ecstatic that this guy is hitting in my lineup for the next few years, but in a loaded rookie class he’ll be on the outside looking in for ROY.

2. Carlos Correa

Preseason Prospect Rankings: 4 (Baseball America), 3 (MLB.com), 3 (Baseball Prospectus)

If you knew anything about prospects coming in to 2015 then you knew about Carlos Correa. The Astros shortstop was seen as a sure fire All-Star, and since his promotion to the majors he hasn’t disappointed. Over 96 games Correa has hit .277/.343/.504. He’s produced a wRC+ of 130, and accumulated 3.2 fWAR. Correa has a below average K% (17.7) and an above average BB% (9.1). Offensively there is so much to like here. Many wondered when we would see offensive production out of the shortstop position again. Clearly with the debut of Correa it has arrived.

However, it is interesting to look at Correa’s defensive numbers. His UZR rating is -3.9. The league average for shortstops is -0.1. Baseball Reference’s defensive numbers are more favorable to Correa, but they’re still about league average (0.7 dWAR). Now, clearly a league average defensive shortstop with these offensive numbers is incredibly valuable. In most seasons he would probably be a land slide for the Rookie of the Year. But Correa isn’t the only American League shortstop having a big year.

1. Francisco Lindor

Preseason Prospect Rankings: 9 (Baseball America), 4 (MLB.com), 4 (Baseball Prospectus)

Most people knew that we would see Lindor at some point this season. Once it became clear how bad the Indians defense was, it was assumed we would see him sooner rather than later. No one ever doubted Lindor’s glove, but the big question was would he hit enough to stick? In 2015 the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

Lindor has played in 95 games for the Indians this season. Over that time he’s hit .323/.360/.496. The average and OBP are both better than Correa, but Correa does hit for more power. Lindor’s 134 wRC+ is also a tick above Correa’s 130. His BB% is below league average (5.9), but so is his K% (15.2). Add to those numbers 11 stolen bases and you have a REALLY productive offensive season from a shortstop. For some perspective, the league average line for shortstops is .257/.308/.377 with an 86 wRC+.

However, defensively is where Lindor sets himself apart. His UZR stands at 8.3, and his Baseball Reference dWAR is at 1.3. He’s playing above average defense at shortstop while also having an above average offensive season. All of these numbers come together in Lindor’s 4.6 fWAR total. This is a full win above Correa and two over Sano.

Conclusion

By the numbers, I’m not sure how someone doesn’t vote for Lindor. He has better offensive numbers than Correa, and contributes defensively in a way that Sano never will. Will this kind of offensive output continue for Lindor? It’s unlikely that he’ll continue to hit THIS well given his track record. Honestly, if I was starting a franchise today I’d still probably take Correa over Lindor. However, when you look at the numbers over the course of the 2015 season it’s hard not to side with Lindor. While Indians fans might be disappointed that they weren’t able to make the playoffs, they can take comfort in the fact that at shortstop their future is very very bright.

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