The National League Rookie of the Year Award was presented on Monday, with Pete Alonso taking home the honor in a landslide victory. After belting 53 home runs this season, the Mets first baseman received a first-place vote on 29 of 30 ballots, with Mike Soroka receiving the other.
The Braves witnessed first-hand the talents of Alonso as the young slugger batted .329/.430/.685 with seven homers against Atlanta in 2019. He hit one of the longest homers of the season at SunTrust Park as he blasted a ball into the fountain beyond the center field fence. Alonso is fairly limited with both the glove and his legs, but more than makes up it with a potent, powerful bat. The former Florida Gators standout will be a terror to opposing pitchers for some time, and the Braves to feel the effects as much as anyone as they reside in the NL East.
For all the fanfare around Alonso, the Braves have to be thrilled with the incredible work done by Mike Soroka this season. His consistency helped to stabilize a rotation with little appreciable depth beyond its starting five. They mixed-and-matched all season, but Soroka was a steadying force. Soroka was also dominant in his lone playoff start, and should be commended for his poise in a hostile environment. He may have missed out on the Rookie of the Year Award, but Soroka was incredible this season.
Soroka was one of the best pitchers in MLB this season at inducing soft contact and suppressing home runs. He gave up the second-fewest home runs per nine innings (0.72), ranked sixth in groundball percentage (51.2%), and 14th in barrel percentage allowed (3.7%). While this would be impressive any season, Soroka, who turned 22 midway through the season, did so in a season of unprecedented home runs where veteran pitchers had major problems suppressing power due to a juiced ball.
Riley’s scorching first six weeks were great, but there were obvious red flags. He was running both an elevated BABIP and a HR/FB around twice league average, but neither of those are particularly weird during a hot streak. Instead, Riley had the second-highest whiff rate in the majors even when he was raking, along with the sixth-highest swing rate, a top-30 rate of missing pitches out of the zone, and a top-five rate of missing pitches inside the zone. While he was legitimately raking during that period (.385 wOBA, .373 xwOBA), there was some concern about whether he could pull off the Javier Baez impression at the plate all season. It turns out that that concern was well-founded: he couldn’t.
Introducing Three Flags Flying which is an Atlanta Braves Podcast featuring Braves Journal’s Ryan Cothran, Outfield Fly Rule’s Brent Blackwell and Talking Chop’s Kris Willis.
Alonso was not the only ROY crowned on Monday, as Yordan Alvarez of the Astros was also announced as the AL winner.
The Marlins are weird.
The Red Sox have to be thrilled that they’ll get to pay Pedroia $13 million next season.