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NL Rookie of the Year Race with One Month Left in Season

The numbers speak on who the National League's best rookies are and what their fantasy value is, both now and long term.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

First off, I missed this. I have been super busy and unable to post an article for quite a bit, so I will try to get all the rust out. I want to give an update on the tight (at last check) on the fantasy value and ranking of this year's top rookies. For non-fantasy purposes, I will break down the award frontrunners. For fantasy-only gurus, I will discuss the fantasy value of these rookies. I plan on doing AL rookies very soon. Also, I want to take a look at how to value rookies in the future.

Frontrunner: Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant was the early favorite to win the award, as he was nearly every publication not-named MLB.com's number one prospect entering the year. He has performed valiantly, hitting just .262, but walking enough to put up a terrific .364 OBP. His defense, which notoriously needed work (the excuse for sending Bryant to the Minors for the first two some-odd weeks) has been solidly above average, with the metrics having mixed opinions of him (Fielding Bible has him at -5 DRS, but his Ultimate Zone Rating has been +2.3). His power has been streaky but awe worthy when he is hot, as he has two months with seven homers and three months with four or less. He has two walk-off home runs, so he has been good at opportune times. His fantasy value long term is as high as anyone in the game not named Mike Trout, as he could chip in fifty plus home runs, phenomenal RBI's and runs scored, and even the odd stolen base makes him a future number one fantasy pick candidate. His WAR checks in at 4.8, which is good for fifteenth of all qualified batters, just ahead of teammate and costar Anthony Rizzo. He is clearly the top rookie this year, but this year's class has a very strong middle group.

Runner-up: Randal Grichuk

The first pick by the Angels in the first round that they drafted the great Mike Trout just one pick later, Grichuk has always kind of been on the outside looking in. He never was a highly regarded prospect, but he is slugging .561 and getting on-base at a high enough clip that he can lead all rookies in OPS with .894. He can do a lot of things for a club, and he represents the Cardinals' latest player with a meteoric out-of-nowhere rise to prominence for the clear model organization. His fantasy value is somewhat limited, as he can not sustain a .376 BABIP-fueled .284 batting average. Long term, he should shave down strikeouts enough to hit around .270, bat in the middle of a deep order for a ton of RBI's and runs scored, and 30 plus home runs over the course of a season. If you have a weird format that uses real-life outfield positioning (RF, LF, and CF, as opposed to plain old OF), he can be a top five center fielder despite very few stolen bases.

Third Place: Noah Syndergaard

The only pitcher to be profiled (this week), Thor has put up a 3.31 ERA (3.37 FIP), so he is nearing ace numbers. Next year, he might take that leap, but for now, he is a good fantasy number three to four. Noah's best attribute is his strikeout rate. He strikes out just over a batter an inning at 9.49, good for twelfth league wide, just ahead of fellow Mets starter Jacob DeGrom. He averages over six innings per start, giving the Mets another starter built to handle innings and strikeout mass quantities of flailing hitters. Just watching Noah Syndergaard start makes your jaw drop, as when he is on, he can just play with hitters as a child plays with dolls. His fastball that can reach the high nineties, his changeup and slider are all well above average pitches. His command has steadily improved all season and remains a focus point for him to improve, so his WHIP should continue to lower, and it stands at 1.14 as of now.

This NL rookie class is very good, and the top three rookies all have extremely bright futures. If not for Bryant, either of Syndergaard and Grichuk could win most years, but Bryant will win this year barring a major September collapse like the 2011 Atlanta Braves. Not only are these three very nice players, but there are an awful lot of quality candidates behind these three, most notably Matt Duffy, Taylor Jungmann, and Jung-Ho Kang.

*** All stats via Fangraphs