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2020 SnakePit Awards: Rookie of the Year nominations open

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A short season, but not without some young players

Varsho hit an RBI triple. Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

I was curious how the number of rookie would stack up this season. Sure, there were barely one-third the number of games in a “normal” campaign. But various factors, such as the larger roster size, appeared to work in the other direction, potentially increasing the need for rookies to eat innings and plate appearances. In the end, if you were looking just at the raw numbers, you’d not even have known there was a pandemic, or that the regular season only lasted for two months.

Per Baseball Reference - so don’t blame me for any errors! - there were 11 rookie-eligible players used by the D-backs this year. Four of these were position players (Wyatt Mathisen, Pavin Smith, Daulton Varsho and Andy Young) while the other seven were pitchers (Jeremy Beasley, Kevin Ginkel, Joe Mantiply, Keury Mella, Joel Payamps, Riley Smith and Taylor Widener). That is down from the sixteen who appeared for the Diamondbacks in 2019 - though, obviously, is considerably more than one-third. That was also a rookie-heavy campaign, not far off the all-time record of 19. In contrast, both 2017 and 2018 had fewer rookies for Arizona than this shortened schedule, with seven and nine respectively.

It’s interesting to see how the Diamondbacks stack up against other teams this year; the answer is, roughly in the middle of the pack. You might think the Marlins would have led the way in this category, not least due to their COVID-19 outbreak, which ravaged the team early on. And they did have six rookie position players and a startling fifteen rookie pitchers (tied for the MLB lead with the Astros). But overall, their total of 21 put them one behind the Cardinals (eight position players, fourteen pitchers), and two behind the Mariners (10/13). At the other end, the Mets used the smallest number of rookies: five in total, two position players and three pitchers.

All of which is a preamble towards narrowing eleven potential candidates to five nominees. I think I might throw in a “No award” category for this in the final balloting: there is some precedent for that, as we had no Rookie of the Year in 2016 (though it was due to fairly rampant ballot rigging on behalf of Jake Barrett!). But it’s not as if it’s any of the rookies’ faults that they were limited in their playing time this year, so there’s a case to be made, that it’s unfair to penalize them for it. Anyway, it’s an honor just to be nominated, so below are eleven initial candidates. I think some can quickly be ruled out (three pitchers combined for 5.2 innings!), but make your five picks in the comments, and explain why.

  • Jeremy Beasley
  • Joe Mantiply
  • Wyatt Mathisen
  • Joel Payamps
  • Keury Mella
  • Kevin Ginkel
  • Pavin Smith
  • Riley Smith
  • Daulton Varsho
  • Taylor Widener
  • Andy Young