As the 2021 MLB season enters its second half, the American League Rookie of the Year race is beginning to heat up. While some rookies have already made significant contributions to their respective teams, others are waiting for their chance to shine. Here are the top favorites and dark horses for the AL Rookie of the Year award, including Anthony Volpe and Gunnar Henderson.
Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees
Anthony Volpe is a 20-year-old shortstop who was drafted by the New York Yankees in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft. He is currently playing for the Yankees’ High-A affiliate, the Hudson Valley Renegades, where he is enjoying a breakout season. Through 59 games, Volpe has a .282 batting average, with 11 home runs, 35 RBIs, and a .925 OPS.
Volpe has shown above-average defensive skills at shortstop, with a strong arm and good range. He has also shown an ability to hit for both power and average, making solid contact and showing good plate discipline. If Volpe continues to thrive in the minors, he could be in line for a call-up to the Yankees later this season or early next season.
Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore Orioles
Gunnar Henderson is a 19-year-old shortstop who was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. He is currently playing for the Orioles’ Low-A affiliate, the Delmarva Shorebirds, where he is also having a strong season. Through 58 games, Henderson has a .282 batting average, with 10 home runs, 42 RBIs, and a .848 OPS.
Like Volpe, Henderson is an above-average defensive shortstop, with good hands and a strong arm. He has also shown good power potential, with his 10 home runs ranking second in the Low-A East. If Henderson can continue to develop his hitting and power skills, he could be a top prospect for the Orioles in the coming years.
Of course, Volpe and Henderson are not the only rookies in the race for the AL Rookie of the Year award. Other top candidates include Adolis Garcia of the Texas Rangers, Randy Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Jarred Kelenic of the Seattle Mariners.
Garcia is currently leading all AL rookies in home runs (22) and RBIs (68), but his low batting average (.259) and high strikeout rate (30.4%) may hurt his chances. Arozarena burst onto the scene during last year’s playoffs and has continued to impress this season, with a .261 batting average, 14 home runs, and 47 RBIs. Kelenic was one of the top prospects in baseball before his call-up earlier this season, but he has struggled at the plate so far, with a .132 batting average and 36 strikeouts in 90 at-bats.
In addition to the top favorites, there are also a few dark horses who could make a late push for the Rookie of the Year award. These include Alex Kirilloff of the Minnesota Twins, Luis Garcia of the Houston Astros, and Wander Franco of the Rays.
Kirilloff has shown potential as both a hitter and a fielder, playing primarily in left field for the Twins. Garcia has been a surprise contributor for the Astros, with a 2.86 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 50.1 innings pitched. Franco is widely regarded as the top prospect in baseball, but he has seen limited playing time with the Rays so far this season.
The race for the AL Rookie of the Year award is still wide open, with plenty of talented players vying for the title. While the favorites and dark horses may change as the season progresses, players like Anthony Volpe and Gunnar Henderson have shown that they have what it takes to make an impact in the big leagues. Whether they win the Rookie of the Year award or not, these young players could be the future stars of their respective teams.