A couple of months ago, I lamented the paucity of top-quality rookies in the American League this season. Particularly in comparison to the National League. But speaking of the National League, I also lamented the paucity of top-quality rookie hitters in the National League.
Well, of course Yasiel Puig changed things in the National League. And to some degree, Jose Iglesias and Wil Myers have changed things in the American League. Still, here's the complete list of major-league rookies who have played enough to qualify for a batting title:
Nolan Arenado (3.3)
Pete Kozma (0.1)
Adeiny Hechavarria (-1.4)
A few weeks ago in The Great Purge of 2013, the Marlins demoted second baseman Derek Dietrich, left fielder Justin Ruggiano, and center fielder Marcel Ozuna. Spared, though, was shortstop Hechavarria, if only because the club didn't have another shortstop-in-waiting.
Which can't really be said about the Cardinals, who still have Ryan Jackson kicking around with Memphis of the Pacific Coast League, despite Kozman's continuing struggles. I still believe the Cardinals are the best club in the National League Central, but if they do finish behind the Pirates and maybe even the Reds, we shan't feel too terribly sorry for them. Because they're sort of asking for it.
As for Arenado ... Well, that lofty number after his name largely derives from his outstanding fielding numbers, and we do have to take three months of fielding numbers with a big dollop of salt. His hitting numbers aren't impressive at all, though at 22 he's got plenty of room to grow.
Of course, those are just the qualifiers and it's The Big Non Qualifier who's going to win the Rookie of the Year Award. And the funny thing is that without Puig, there would still be four outstanding Rookie of the Year candidates just among the league's starting pitchers: Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Julio Teheran. Miami's Fernandez has been the best of them, but with only eight wins he's just not going to get any traction against Puig in the balloting.
In the American League, though ... Not a single American League rookie has played enough to qualify for the batting title. Not a single American League pitcher has thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. Tampa Bay's Chris Archer has been the A.L.'s best rookie starter, but won't win 10 games. In fact, no American League rookie has won more than six games; no American League rookie has saved more than two.
Still, Archer's got a shot at the award, if only by default. Because the best-hitting A.L. rookie is Wil Myers, but he's hardly played. The best candidate, though, is probably Jose Iglesias. He's not still hitting .400, but he should finish with decent statistics and he's making plays like this for a first-place team.
Really, not much has changed in the last couple of months. It's still all about Puig, and the American League's rookies still pale next to the National Leagues. Exactly what this means for the future, only The Future can say for sure.