The 2023 AL and NL Rookie of the Year (ROY) Awards were given out last week, with little doubt as to who was going to take home the hardware. The Baltimore Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson and Arizona Diamondbacks’ Corbin Carroll both won in unanimous votes, as both established themselves as superstars for their respective teams.
Which should we be looking for when trying to predict next year’s winners?
Henderson and Carroll were both high level minor league players, so top 100 prospect lists is a good place to get an idea who might be in the mix. Over the last 10 years, 16 of the 20 winners have been hitters, with only 3 pitchers winnings the award (omitting two-way unicorn Shohei Ohtani who pitches and hits). Another trait that seems to translate well to winning this award is speed. The winner in each league over the last 3 years has produced double-digit steal totals, with Carroll’s 54 being the high water mark this past season. Finally, opportunity plays a big part. Earning a starting job in Spring Training goes a long way towards creating an appealing ROY resume.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the top three first year players for 2024, starting with the American League.
1. Evan Carter, OF, Texas Rangers
Carter represents the perfect Rookie of the Year candidate: a player who gets called up late in the year and has success in the playoffs. It’s not so common to see a rookie batting 3rd on a World Series winning team, but that’s exactly where the toolsy outfielder found himself last month. An .863 OPS and 26 steals earned himself a call-up towards the end of the season, and he continued his hot hitting all playoffs long. It seems very possible that Carter could hit 20 home runs and steal 30 bases next year, which would certainly put him in the ROY conversation. Opportunity doesn’t seem like a worry at all for the young outfielder, as he’s very likely to be starting in left field on opening day.
The rookie Evan Carter slaps one in the gap to bring home Corey Seager to put Texas on the board first in Game 1 of the World Series🔥 #StraightUpTX #MLBPostseason #WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/MlfWLcna5J
— Top Bunk Sports (@Topbunksports) October 28, 2023
2. Jackson Holliday, 2B/SS, Baltimore Orioles
Could Holliday make it back to back Orioles winners? The son of longtime Major Leaguer Matt Holliday has breezed through the minor leagues after getting picked 1st overall by Baltimore in the 2022 draft. It’s not often you see a 19 year old with this kind of hype this early on. With a .442 OBP and 24 steals last year, it’s safe to say that Holliday may be arriving ahead of schedule. He’s got the pedigree, bloodlines, and speed, the only question may be opportunity. Given his age, it wouldn’t be surprising if the team started him off in the Minor Leagues to start 2024. There’s always the chance that he could struggle to start the year and delay his call-up, which would make it harder to take home the hardware.
3. Ricky Tiedemann, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
Tiedemann definitely belongs in the long shot category. Only 9 of the past 40 ROY winners have been pitchers, as voters typically favour position players who have played the whole season. The reality is that it’s unlikely that we see rookie pitchers pitch a full season, let alone pitch well enough to win the award. Tiedemann could easily be an exception to this, as the lefty worked his way up to Triple-A last season, boasting an insane 82 strikeouts in just 44 innings. It seems unlikely that Tiedemann will start the season in the Blue Jays rotation, but he could be electric whenever he is called up. With a little luck from less-than-stellar seasons from other players on this list, Tiedemann has a shot.