Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers, even though he has played just eight of 63 games so far, is making waves in the National League Rookie of the Year award. The folks at Bovada give Puig the second best odds to capture the award, at 3/2.
Shelby Miller of the Cardinals is 7-3 with a 1.91 ERA, his ERA second only to Clayton Kershaw in the National League. Miller is the favorite at 1/1. Hyun-jin Ryu, who has emerged as a reliable force in the Dodgers rotation at 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA and a 3.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio, is third at 5/1 odds to win the award.
Playing in so few games wouldn't be unprecedented in Rookie of the Year voting. The greatest example was Willie McCovey, who played only 52 games in 1959 but overwhelmed his competition by hitting .354/.429/.656 with 13 home runs.
Puig is off to a tremendous start, hitting .500/.515/.938 with four home runs in eight games.
Barring a tiebreaker playoff, the most games Puig could play in 2013 is 107. But there have been other non-McCovey winners with a similar number of games played:
- Chris Chambliss won the American League award in 1971 in 111 games, hitting .275/.341/.407.
- Al Bumbry won the AL award in 1973 in 116 games, hitting .337/.398/.507.
- Bob Horner nearly pulled a McCovey, winning the NL award in 1978 with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in just 89 games.
- Dwight Smith won the NL award in 1989 in 116 games.
- Ryan Braun played in 113 games in 2007 and hit 34 home runs to win the NL award, beating out the likely more deserving Troy Tulowitzki, who played 155 games at shortstop.
- Buster Posey won the NL award in 2010 playing in 108 games, getting the position boost that Tulo did not get. Posey beat out Jason Heyward, who played in 142 games.
If Puig continues to produce, he will definitely be in the mix for the National League award, even in a small amount of games.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Evan Gattis, who is hitting 263/.326/.603 with 14 home runs in 50 games and has won the NL Rookie of the Month in each of the first two months of the season, isn't even listed by Bovada, meaning his odds are worse than teammate Julio Teheran's 25/1 odds.