Dodger’s 2021 Award Candidates: (ROY)

Highlights

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Cy Young
  • MVP
  • Gold Glove
  • Silver Slugger
  • All Star Nods
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Dodger’s Possible Rookie(s) of the Year

First off, we want to show the list of players we believe have even the smallest percentage chance of having a Rookie of the year run in 2021 with the Dodgers. You may notice quickly we only have one pitcher, Josiah Gray, on the list. That’s because the Dodgers have too much MLB level pitching talent. Yes we believe in guys this year like Carrillo, Uceta, Pepoit, and others. But the odds of them pitching enough to qualify for ROY in a full season is extremely unlikely. As is, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin are trying to crack the rotation somehow.

As for why we picked these position players, we see the Dodgers having the most flexibility in 2021 in the infield (minus Seager at short) and in left field. Specifically, 2nd base is still a giant question mark for the Dodgers going into spring, and 3rd base is going to need depth behind the aging Turner and his bad knees.

Feel free to comment any you think we missed in our consideration, but read our arguments first. Here’s our top 10 and reasoning for the top 5 Dodger prospects with the greatest chance of winning NL ROY.

  1. Keibert Ruiz, C, 22 yo (MLB #57)
  2. Josiah Gray, RHP, 23 yo (MLB #58)
  3. Sheldon Neuse, 3B/2B/1B, 26 yo
  4. Zach McKinstry, INF/OF, 25 yo
  5. DJ Peters, OF, 25 yo
  6. Jacob Amaya, SS/2B, 22 yo
  7. Miguel Vargas, 3B, 21 yo
  8. Kody Hoese, 3B, 23 yo
  9. Michael Busch, 2B, 23 yo
  10. Devin Mann, 2B/3B, 24 yo
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Now, we’re going to present only THE UPSIDE CASE, no matter how unlikely the scenario might be for each player. Meaning, we’re not going to give necessarily a very real case scenario. We’re going to give the ways the player can find playing time and the “Winner of the ROY” case for each guy. We are going to describe ONLY a world where each of these players CAN win NL ROY. We realize that at best, one of these guys will actually perform at the levels were describing. So here we go…

  • The Keibert Ruiz Case
  • Ways To Playing Time for Ruiz
    • Will Smith or Austin Barnes injury
      • (Sorry but injury will be an unfortunate reality of every MLB season. Unless we feel the need to specify the type of injury needed for the player to get the call we won’t mention it)
    • Someone changes positions or the DH is back
    • A Trade
    • A Huge Spring Training

To us here’s what would probably happen.

Ruiz winds up playing 80+ games for the Dodgers mostly as a catcher because Will Smith and Austin Barnes start mixing in more at 1st and 2nd respectively. Ruiz shines defensively behind the plate and makes great connections across the staff as a favorite to pitch to. Specifically, he manages to impress Clayton Kershaw as a framer and becomes his catcher of choice. After Ruiz undeniably proves himself, the Dodgers either trade Austin Barnes or move Smith to 1st, for the sake of playing time for all three of these MLB worthy catchers. After all, Deigo Cartaya is even starting to lurk in the on deck circle.

Offensively, Ruiz surprises with a higher than expected batting average hitting .275+. However, it’s his surprising power from both sides of the plate that leads to 15+ doubles and homers. To top it all off, he finishes the year basically 1 for 1 in strikeouts compared to walks with his exceptional eye. All in all we think he could win if he puts up a .275/.350/.475, 15 homers, a fantastic approach at the plate, and all while splitting catching time with other young phenom Will Smith.

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  • The Josiah Gray Case
  • Ways to Playing Time
    • RHP injury
    • Bullpen Swingman
    • 6 Man rotation
    • Strategic Fill-in To Rest The Workhorse Starts (especially late in the season)

Gray just continues to climb after the Dodgers practically stole him and Jeter Downs in a salary swap with the Reds years ago. The converted shortstop didn’t commit to pitching until the summer of 2017 and now ranks as the 22nd overall pitching prospect of all types. If he wins ROY, here’s the minimum he’ll have to do.

Gray manages to pitch 12+ full starts at the MLB level pitching at least 75 innings. His ERA will sit in the mid to low 2’s with a WHIP just under 1. He managed to hit 100 strikeouts compared to only 25ish walks. For good measure, he even gets his first major league save during a 3 run save in either Arizona or Coors. By the end of the year he has the ability to turn the lineup over 3 times if needed.

How? His fastball is better than we thought. He upped his curveball and changeup to truly make himself effective against batters from both sides of the plate. The best part is his ability to control each of the offerings.

Overall, for Gray to win, we would expect to see a line of at least 7-2, 2.50 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 75 IP, 95 K, 20 BB.

  • The Sheldon Neuse Case
  • Ways To Playing Time
    • Impress in Spring
    • Add the ability to play LF/RF
    • Lux/Muncy Disappoints Again
    • DH again (But not for him he has a CANNON)

Neuse (Noisy) was possibly the most pleasant unsuspected surprise for the Dodgers 2021 offseason. He ranked as the A’s 5th ranked prospect in 2020 which wound up being the same as 13th in the Dodger’s system. Still, the older prospect seems to have plenty of showy skills that could be award worthy.

To win, Neuse would have to impress straight away in Spring Training. He has power, but would flaunt his contact abilities against lefties and righties along with his gold glove type defense at 3rd to make the roster over McKinstry. He’d start by playing 1 out of 5 games for JT at 3rd and as a late inning sub/pinch hitter. He shines with not only lockdown defense but an ability to hit clutch.

He did this for most of the first half of 2021 and ends it with double digits homers and a surprising .850+ OPS in about 150+ ABs. However, towards the end, Neuses utility role expands to 2B, 1B, and even the corner OF. By the second half he starts against every left handed starter the Dodgers face. In some cases, he even starts at 3rd while JT starts at 1st to rest his knees.

In the end, Neuse finds himself being seriously looked at as the next Justin Turner and possibly a long time fixture at 3rd base in LA after a tremendous rookie year. He hit at least .285/.375/.480 with an unexpected 400+ ABs, not including the postseason. He hits 25+ homers, 75+ RBI, 65+ R, 45+ BB’s, and 15+ doubles. Meanwhile he becomes a defensive gem with his number one tool, his arm.

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  • The Zach McKinstry Case
  • Ways To Playing Time
    • Don’t lose it. He has the Kiké job for now.

McKinstry would come in right where he left off last spring and earn the LF lefty job immediately. He would excel at the plate and become the Dodgers version of Jeff McNeil. He’d start about 3 of 5 games all over the field and typically pinch hit in his nights off. When he’s in, he leads off, ahead of Mookie and Corey.

Overall, McKinstry would have a very interesting stat line in our mind. As a hitter in a ROY situation we see him slashing at least .285/.370/.450. He has the potential to hit about 12+ homers and steal 5+ bases as well. He wouldn’t have a lot of RBI, but he would score 75+ times. He’d play just about every position at least once during the year.

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  • The DJ Peters Case
  • Ways To Playing Time
    • Play 1st base as well
    • Impress in Spring
    • Out-hit Pollock
    • Reverse splits

Peters would have the loudest ROY campaign. In a world where Peters get the nod long enough, one of our outfielders got injured and Peters smashes his way to staying while they are on the IL. He looks like the second coming of Judge or Alonso. He has power to all sides of the field and his average exit velocity is off the charts. He even competes to lead the Dodgers in homers throughout the year before settling around 40.

Even though he looks extremely different at the plate, his slash line looks like Muncy. Somewhere around .240/.350/.500. He pounds in 85+ RBI and 70+ R. He also steals a few bags but shows he’s still strikeout prone. In the end the Dodgers trade Pollock to make way for Peters almost full time in left as himself and Edwin Rios fill the Joc Pop void.

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