Thor, the thunder god, rules supreme over the National League. The Rookie of the Year race in the National League race is heating up. This year is not as clear-cut as last year’s chase, when Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom won in a landslide.
Two horse race
It’s still a dogfight between two candidates, the future Cubs superstar third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant, 23, and New York Mets stud rookie pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who turns 23 on August 29th.
While Bryant was the early favorite to win it this year, Syndergaard has taken the lead and won’t give it back.
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Syndergaard looks to accomplish something that hasn’t been done since the mid-90s when five consecutive Dodgers won the award. The last time two straight Mets won the Rookie of the Year was in the mid 80s when Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden took home the title.
Nicknamed Thor for his Nordic last name, long flowing blonde hair, and his nasty curveball (Mets manager Terry Collins calls it “the hook from hell”), the 6’6” 240 pound right-hander has pitched beyond his years. The flame throwing Syndergaard has a 3.07 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP (Walks + Hits over Innings Pitched) in 17 starts for New York this year.
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Syndergaard had a rough start to the beginning of his major league career, posting a 2-4 record with 4.15 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in his first six starts.
But since his June 15th start against the Toronto Blue Jays Syndergaard has brought the hammer down on opponents. The strapping rookie righty has a 2.54 ERA, .97 WHIP, while striking out 77 batters.
From his call up in mid-April until the All-Star break Bryant was performing to his already high expectations, hit .270 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs. But the Cubs third baseman has hit a bump in the road since the All-Star break, hitting just .222 with 4 HRs, and 15 RBIs.
Heading into the 2015 season, Bryant and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson were the heavy favorites to win the award. Bryant was the top ranked prospect in all of baseball while Pederson was ranked seventh.
Pederson has completely cratered the last two months.He had what looked to be a promising season in early June, hitting .267 with 17 HRs and 32 RBIs through June 4th. Since then, the rookie outfielder has fallen apart, hitting just 5 HRs while driving in only 14 RBIs. Pederson’s strikeouts have become alarming, fanning 73 times since early June.
Both the Cubs and Mets are deep in the playoff hunt. The Cubs hold a 4 ½ game lead over the San Francisco Giants for the second Wild Card spot, while the Mets currently lead the NL East by 4 ½ games over the slumping Washington Nationals.
But with Syndergaard only getting better, and Bryant in a prolonged slump, it’s becoming clear Thor should win top rookie honors.