Why Francisco Lindor Should Be the American League Rookie of the Year

Lindor, not Carlos Correa, has been the best rookie in the American League. Here's why.

Only a few months ago, it looked like Carlos Correa would win the AL Rookie of the Year award. But my how quickly things have changed.

Francisco Lindor and Miguel Sano have both played themselves into the mix, and Lindor has positioned himself as the front-runner for the award.

Taking a look at their splits, all three have put together fine season, especially considering none of them were on their respective Major League rosters at the beginning of the season.

Carlos Correa, Astros 381 .279 .345 .507 .365 132
Francisco Lindor, Indians 380 .316 .353 .478 .357 128
Miguel Sano, Twins 280 .280 .396 .569 .410 163

All three have hit very well at the plate, especially Sano in his limited at-bats. Correa and Sano have shown the most power, with Sano leading all three in SLG and wRC+. Lindor, though, has hit for the highest average.

Here's how the three rank among AL rookies.

Carlos Correa 8th 7th 3rd 4th 4th
Francisco Lindor 1st 3rd 5th 5th 5th
Miguel Sano 7th 1st 1st 1st 1st

Even though Sano ranks better than Correa and Lindor in almost every hitting category, Sano's 100 fewer plate appearances along with a .421 BABIP -- more than 70 points higher than Correa and Lindor -- makes this a bit of a two-horse race. There's no doubt Sano's been incredible, but a .421 BABIP in a smaller sample size screams a lot of luck, which might not carry over to 100 more plate appearances. 

The AL Rookie of the Year race is -- or should be at this point -- a two-horse race, and Lindor, not Correa, should win the award.

For starters, Lindor has been the more valuable player this year, leading Correa in both fWAR and bWAR.

Player fWAR bWAR
Francisco Lindor 3.7 3.7
Carlos Correa 3.1 3.4

Lindor has been the more valuable player this year, almost as good, if not better at the plate than Correa, and certainly better in the field. 

Among American League shortstops with 350 or more innings, Lindor has the best UZR/150 (14.9) and the most defensive runs saved (DRS) with 9. Correa's not really even close to Lindor with a -9.5 UZR/150 and -3 DRS. With his fielding and impressive hitting, Lindor has been the more valuable and better player down the stretch, deserving of the AL Rookie of the Year award.

And not only has Lindor been a more valuable player this year, he's also been much better down the stretch. Whereas Correa started hot and as tailed off, Lindor had his rookie struggles, but has surged in August as the Indians played themselves back into the Wild Card race.

Since the All-Star break, Lindor hasn't only been one of the best rookies in American League: he's also been one of the best players in baseball.

In the second half, Lindor is hitting .356/.394/.551 with a .402 wOBA and 159 wRC+. Those marks have helped Lindor post the fourth-best fWAR in baseball behind  Josh Donaldson, Joey Votto and Bryce Harper, posting 3.7 fWAR. 

Correa over the same stretch: .280/.364/.507 with a .373 wOBA and 138 wRC+. Of course, those numbers are hard to scoff at, but they are nowhere near Lindor's incredible second half. And keep in mind, Lindor struggled to adjust to the big leagues in the first half, hitting .223/.257/.311 with a .250 wOBA and 54 wRC+. He's managed to surpass Correa in the awards race in the second half of the season alone.

Correa might be the popular pick for the American League Rookie of the Year award, but with the way he's been playing lately, he shouldn't be. Lindor has not only been a much better shortstop in the second half but also over the course of the entire season -- when factoring in defensive metrics.

It shouldn't matter that Lindor is on a team that might miss the playoffs while Correa's been playing for a contender for the entire season. Lindor has been the better and more valuable player, making him deserving of the American League Rookie of the Year award.