First Pitch: What Prevented Ke’Bryan Hayes From Being Considered For NL Rookie of the Year?

The Baseball Writer’s Association of America has announced the finalists for NL Rookie of the Year, and Ke’Bryan Hayes is not on the list.

The BBWAA released the list of finalists yesterday, with Alec Bohm of the Phillies, Jake Cronenworth of the Padres, and Devin Williams of the Brewers making the cut.

Bohm hit for a .338/.400/.481 line in 180 plate appearances over 44 games.

Cronenworth hit .285/.354/.477 in 192 plate appearances over 54 games.

By comparison, Hayes hit for a .376/.442/.682 line in 95 plate appearances over 24 games. Hayes also hit five home runs, compared to four each from the finalists.

Hayes had the better numbers, but about half the games that Bohm and Cronenworth had to their name. Hayes stands out with a 1.7 fWAR, which leads all NL rookie position players. Cronenworth finished at 1.4, with Bohm at 1.2.

Devin Williams is a pitcher who threw in relief this year, throwing 27 innings over 22 games, with an 0.33 ERA, a 17.67 K/9, and a 3.00 BB/9. Those are dominant numbers, but this does raise a question as to why Hayes wasn’t included.

Among rookies, including NL rookies, Williams has about half the innings of the starting pitchers. It’s surprising to me that Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers wasn’t even named a finalist. Not only does he have 46.2 innings as a starter, but he had a 2.31 ERA during that span, with a 1.8 fWAR to the 1.4 by Williams.

Gonsolin and Hayes were the two most valuable rookies in the league this year. It doesn’t make sense why neither is on the list.

I can see the argument for Hayes being that his dominant numbers shouldn’t be compared to the numbers of Bohm and Cronenworth, due to the differences in playing time.

And yet that same argument isn’t upheld when picking Williams over Gonsolin on the pitching side. Granted, Williams was in the league longer, and only pitched fewer innings because he was a relief pitcher. But you’d have to wonder how much different Williams would perform as a starter, and Gonsolin as a reliever.

Likewise, Hayes might not have had a .376 average and an OPS over 1.100 over his next 95 plate appearances. We saw that with the finalists.

Cronenworth had a .360/.415/.605 line in his first 94 plate appearances of the year. He followed it up with a .209/.296/.349 line in the final 98 plate appearances.

Bohm, on the other hand, finished strong with a .388/.458/.529 line in his final 96 plate appearances. He had a .280/.333/.427 line in the 84 plate appearances leading up to that.

The problem with the difference in playing time is that we’ve seen Cronenworth and Bohm dominate for longer stretches than Hayes. We’ve seen them put up similar numbers to Hayes in similar periods of time. Their overall numbers were hurt because they couldn’t maintain that production over a longer span of at-bats.

Likewise, it’s doubtful that Williams would be able to sustain his numbers as a starter and with double the innings pitched, much like Gonsolin did.

But let’s look at Hayes for a second, and wonder how his numbers would have looked with a second half slump. I gave him the exact same second half numbers as Cronenworth. That brought his season total to a .292/.368/.515 line in 193 plate appearances.

If Hayes had those numbers in the second half, with his defense, he’d probably win NL Rookie of the Year this year.

Then again, what do I know? My guess was that Gonsolin was going to be the winner, and that Hayes would just be one of the runner ups due to the lack of playing time.

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