May 31, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Marcell Ozuna (48) connects for a base hit during the seventh inning against the New York Mets at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Dontrelle Willis (2003), Hanley Ramirez (2006), and Chris Coghlan (2009) are trio of past rookies that both Jose Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna are trying to match in 2013. Each of those three players took home the Rookie of the Year awards.
The way Jose Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna have played so far in 2013, they have a pretty good chance for one of them to join an elite list with the Marlins rookies listed above.
Even with their hot starts, the competition for the duo is nothing to sneeze at. Shelby Miller and Evan Gattis are the front runner currently for the award and are showing no signs of letting down any time soon.
Both of these players were called up earlier than the Marlins had visioned them making their major league debut. Jose Fernandez was a shocking late addition to the Marlins starting rotation after the team learned that Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi would both miss time with shoulder injuries.
Marcell Ozuna was called up near the end of April when the team lost right fielder Giancarlo Stanton to a hamstring injury. The team’s roster had already been depleted due to injuries, so the team did not have much of a choice but to bring up Ozuna.
The Marlins could not be happy about bring these two prospects up before they were ready, but they could not be happier with their results early on.
Here is a look at Fernandez stack up against his fellow rookie pitchers thus far this season:
[table id=24 /]
Among all rookies, Fernandez owns the second best strikeouts per nine innings, behind only Shelby Miller of the Cardinals. Fellow rookie Marlins starting pitcher Tom Koehler ranks the lowest in that category of these candidates. Fernandez owns the second worst walk rate per nine innings of the bunch, with reliever Justin Wilson of the Pirates the only pitcher beating him. Fernandez is tied for the most starts and has throw the fourth most innings, mostly because the Marlins have put him on a strict pitch count so far.
Each of these pitchers deserve some recognition of their own for how they have handled pitching in their rookie seasons, but Shelby Miller has separated himself from the pack so far, as he sits a legitimate CY Young Award candidate early on as well.
With the way Miller has been throwing and Fernandez having a 160-inning limit, his chances at overtaking Miller for the best rookie pitcher seem like a long shot.
Marcell Ozuna Among Top Right Fielders?
Ozuna has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Fish since his callup, coming up with big hit after hit for the Marlins when they have needed it the most. Here is how Ozuna ranks among his fellow rookie hitters:
[table id=25 /]
Ozuna does lead the rookies in batting average and on base percentage, but that is tied to his highly inflated Batting Average with Balls in Play (BABIP).
Of all the rookies, Ozuna owns the highest BABIP, meaning that he is getting very lucky on balls in play early on this season. Once some of that regresses, his number should start to fall back to his projected .245-.250 batting average areas. Without him hitting for too much home run power, that will hurt the rest of his numbers as well.
Even with the inflated BABIP, Ozuna ranks well among the top right fielders in baseball. In fact, with Ozuna taking over for Stanton due to injury, the Marlins still rank favorably among major league teams in production from right field.
Here is a look at how Ozuna stacks up against other right fielders:
[table id=23 /]
It is awesome to see Ozuna among the leaders of right fielders in his age-22 rookie season. He has a bright future ahead of him, even if he does not hit for a ridiculous average due to the inflated BABIP.
Unfortunately, Ozuna is a longshot to win Rookie of the Year, much like Fernandez. Evan Gattis is off to a great start and is a promising player for the Atlanta Braves.