With less than seven weeks remaining in the regular season, theScore's MLB editors break down the leading candidates for the American League Rookie of the Year.
5. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Rangers
Kiner-Falefa has been a super-utility man this season for the injury-maligned Texas Rangers, spending time at catcher, third base, second base, and shortstop. He's once again the team's backup catcher but his steady play during his first 86 MLB games can't be ignored, and another injury in the infield could lead to more playing time. Kiner-Falefa doesn't provide the Rangers with the power that starting catcher Robinson Chirinos does, but he offers a rare element of speed that few backstops possess - swiping seven bags this year - and has thrown out four of 10 base-stealers compared to Chirinos' six of 52. The 23-year-old's versatility makes him a valuable player for a Rangers team looking to the future.
4. Shane Bieber, Indians
Bieber doesn't have the shining ERA that some of his NL rookie counterparts do, but he's been fantastic as the Cleveland Indians' fifth starter. He's managed to improve on his minor-league strikeout rate and limit the home run ball. The only knock on the 23-year-old may be his relative struggle to induce soft contact, but if he continues to miss bats the way he has to this point - his swinging-strike rate is similar to that of teammates Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber - he should be just fine.
3. Gleyber Torres, Yankees
Torres appeared to have this award locked up by the middle of June. The New York Yankees second baseman clobbered the ball in May to the tune of nine home runs and a .325/.380/.663 slash line, and continued swinging a hot bat as the summer months approached. Unfortunately for Torres - and the Yankees, who are dealing with injuries to sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez - the warmer weather has brought with it an ice-cold bat. The youngster has just a .548 OPS in August and is currently stuck in a 4-for-45 slump. Torres is still having an impressive campaign despite his recent funk and has shown he's capable of catching fire, so he could find himself leading the pack once again.
2. Shohei Ohtani, Angels
It hasn't been the season that fans were dreaming of when Ohtani announced he was joining the Los Angeles Angels. But the 24-year-old has had a productive season at the plate and showed signs of superstardom on the mound before hitting the disabled list in early June. Ohtani may be undone by the injuries and his failure to meet what were likely unfair expectations, but he still has a shot at taking home the hardware. If he's able to pitch again, even if it's not quite up to the high standards he set earlier in the season, the award should be his. And if the Angels decide not to risk it, a strong final stretch at the plate - he's hitting .345/.457/.690 with three homers and four stolen bases in 10 August games - could prove to be enough.
1. Miguel Andujar, Yankees
While the AL has failed to produce the level of rookie talent that the NL has in 2018, the steady Andujar is the front-runner in this race. He's accrued an OPS below .800 in just one month this season and is heating up when it matters most, entering Wednesday's action with five homers in just 14 August games. Andujar's defense at third leaves a bit to be desired but his ability to produce runs at the bottom of the Yankees' order can't be overlooked. He's shown more power this season than he ever did in the minors and is doing so with an average nearing .300. The third baseman doesn't appear likely to fall into a slump anytime soon, so it'll be up to the rest of the rookie class to take the award from him.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)
(WAR courtesy: Fangraphs)
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