In addition to the entire team surprising us this season, the Twins have had several unexpected rookie contributors. While several names could be suggested for “Rookie of the Year,” only one man gets that honor. Here are the guys I think could be most deserving, but I’m curious what you all think. Vote in the poll, and leave a comment with your reasoning
Luis Arraez, INF/OF
Arraez was never a highly regarded prospect, but has been a revelation for the Twins this season with his high-contact batting approach and capable fielding at multiple positions. His primary position is second base, but the Twins have treated him like a Swiss Army Knife this season. He’s played at second, third, shortstop, and in left field, and posted only slightly below replacement level dWAR numbers in 88 games this season. He’s only committed five errors, and holds a .977 fielding percentage despite range factors significantly below league average. His greater tool, however, is his bat. He’s accrued 2.5 oWAR as a half-time player, contributing a total of 1.9 wins to the team. He doesn’t have a lot of power, but puts the ball in play consistently, and notched a slash of .343/.408/.443, which leads to an overall respectable OPS of .851, and a place in the team’s future plans.
Ryne Harper, RP
Ah yes, the thirty-year old rookie. Harper is a success story for the Twins, despite fading down the stretch. Harper is not a power arm by any means, but usually his fastball is just enough to keep guys honest, so that he can deploy his devastating array of breaking balls. Harper uses multiple curveballs that can induce an opponent to swing out of his shoes. He is currently sitting at a 3.71 ERA in 60 appearances, which FIP suggests is a very accurate number, as his FIP is at 3.75. Harper has given the Twins 0.6 bWAR and 0.8 fWAR this season.His 8.1 K/9 is pedestrian for a reliever in 2019, but would have been fantastic just a few years ago.
Randy Dobnak, SP/RP
“Dobstache” is a late entrant to this list, as the bulk of his MLB usage has come in the last couple months of the season. In addition to his impressive facial hair, he has put up some impressive stats in his young career. He has made eight appearances for the Twins, evenly split between the bullpen and the rotation, and has stepped up as other rotation options have struggled, spent time on the injured list, or faced suspensions. Dobnak has been a bit of a beneficiary of luck, as his arsenal relies on a bit of smoke-and-mirrors, and his 2.01 ERA is significantly lower than his (still good) 3.35 FIP. He’s still done enough in his short time to add 0.4 WAR to the team, no matter where you choose to source your WAR from.
Willians Astudillo, C/INF/OF
Surprisingly, Astudillo is still considered a rookie. The Swiss Army Knife before Arraez was called up, Astudillo came down a bit from his lofty 2018 debut, but still was an effective baseball player in an injury-marred 2019 campaign. He participated in 53 games, and played seven positions for the team, only omitting shortstop (the one position he has never played professionally,) center field, and pitcher. His batting numbers are not gaudy, but are reasonable for a MLB catcher, at .256/.286/.355 with three bombas.
Devin Smeltzer, SP/RP
Smeltzer is another player, like Dobnak, that fans weren’t really expecting to be a major contributor before the season started. He has appeared in ten games for the Twins, however, evenly split between starting and relief. He’s pitched 44 innings with a 3.68 ERA and a 4.92 FIP. He’s worth 0.7 WAR by Baseball Reference’s calculations, and 0.3 by FanGraph’s method.
Zack Littell, RP
Littell, like Astudillo, actually made his debut in 2018, but did not exceed rookie limits. This year he has pitched 35 innings for the Twins, and been significantly more productive than he was last season. His 2.83 ERA and 3.76 FIP are both good, although the disparity does suggest some luck as well. He’s posted 0.8 bWAR and 0.5 fWAR.
Which player do you think most deserves the Twins ROY honors?
Who will be the Twins Rookie of the Year?
This poll is closed
Someone else? Tell us who!