At the midway point of the Major League Baseball season, two players stand out above the rest in the race for Rookie of the Year. They are both just 23 years old and have helped their respective teams to be on pace for postseason action. They were both even selected to compete in the Home Run Derby just a few days ago. The two players I am referring to are: Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant.
Pederson was drafted out of high school back in 2010 in the 11th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was a September 1st call up last year when he made his MLB debut. Pederson absolutely destroyed the minor leagues and was known for his home run power and base stealing. Last year, in the Pacific Coast League, he became the fourth player ever to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same year.
This year, in his first full season in the majors, Pederson’s batting average has dropped, but his power and speed is still there. His batting average is at .230 but he has 20 home runs, 40 RBIs and a .457 on base percentage. Pederson’s hitting is not the only thing that is impressive. He is making spectacular defensive plays in center field also. Look for multiple Gold Glove awards to be handed out to him during his career.
The Chicago Cubs had no hesitation selecting Kris Bryant with the second overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. Just like Pederson, Bryant smashed the ball at every level during his time in the minor league system. The Cubs decided to wait until April 17th, 2015 to call up Bryant to the majors so they could keep him under contract for a year longer.
Bryant is not your typical rookie as Manager Joe Maddon has him batting in the middle of the Cubs lineup since his call up. Brant is hitting .269 with 12 home runs, 51 RBIs and has a .376 on base percentage. Bryant is also a patient hitter and is good about taking walks when pitchers don’t give him anything to hit.
As of right now Pederson has the lead for Rookie of the Year, but Bryant is catching up fast and could overtake Pederson by season’s end. It is going to be great watching these two the rest of the season and who knows, in the near future they could both be competing for the MVP of the league.