The NL Rookie of the Year Award should be a slam dunk for Kris Bryant. He was much more valuable than his first-year peers, leading all NL rookies in just about every possible hitting category while playing for a surprising Cubs team that won 97 games and made the playoffs.
The graphs below show the important statistics for the three finalists, along with other notable NL rookies in 2015. The three finalists are highlighted in blue.
OF Odubel Herrera (3.9 WAR) spent six years in the minor leagues and hit .294/.354/.377 with 128 steals in 610 games. He had primarily played shortstop and second base but ended up playing center field for the Phillies this year. The most surprising things about his season were the 8 homers and .418 slugging percentage he put up. He hadn’t showed that kind of power before. He was one of the few bright spots for the last-place Phillies.
OF Randal Grichuk (3.2 WAR) provided the Cardinals with strong production when their outfield was hit with injuries to Matt Holliday and Jon Jay. He was expected to be a platoon player who would primarily play against left-handed pitchers after being a lefty-masher in the minor leagues. He surprised many by hitting right-handed pitchers better than lefties at the big league level, which brought him more playing time as the season went on.
SS Addison Russell (3.1 WAR) is one of many good, young players the Cubs have coming through the pipeline. Russell was acquired in a trade with the Athletics last summer that cost the Cubs pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Giving up those two pitchers was more than worth it, though, as Russell was one of the best shortstop prospects in the minor leagues at the time. Russell started this season in the minor leagues but joined the Cubs in late April. He initially played second base but the Cubs wisely moved him to shortstop in August to take advantage of his superb defense. Russell got most of his value this year from his defense. As a hitter, he was about 10% below league average (.242/.307/.389).
SP Noah Syndergaard (2.6 WAR) has been a top pitching prospect since being drafted 38th overall in the June 2010 draft. He was drafted by the Blue Jays but traded to the Mets in December of 2012. He reached the major leagues this season and was impressive right from the start, going 9-7 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 10.0 K/9. Using a combination of Baseball-Reference WAR and Fangraphs WAR, Syndergaard was the most valuable rookie pitcher in the National League.
OF Joc Pederson (2.6 WAR) got off to a tremendous start in 2015. Through June 4th, Pederson was hitting .266/.390/.603 with 17 homers and 32 RBI in 54 games. The rest of the season was a different story. From June 5th on, Pederson was terrible, hitting .176/.319/.309. He had a productive season overall, but most of it came in the first two months of the season.
Who I think will win: Kris Bryant is a slam-dunk. Not only was he the best rookie in baseball, he was one of the 10 best players overall in the National League.
Who I would vote for: Kris Bryant.