With the World Series over and the 2023 Major League Baseball season officially concluded, awards season is in full swing. The Rockies continued their Silver Slugger drought, for which they haven’t had a winner since 2019. Meanwhile, Brenton Doyle took home the Gold Glove for National League center fielders, the only one of the Rockies’ three finalists to win. However, the “big deal” awards are still around the corner.
On Monday evening, MLB announced the finalists for the 2023 Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) awards. When you have a season like the Colorado Rockies did, it’s no surprise that BBWAA voters weren’t exactly lining up to hand out the hardware. It was unsurprising to see the Rockies not have finalists in the MVP, Cy Young, or Manager of the Year races. However, there was one notable snub when it came to Rookie of the Year voting.
The three finalists for National League Rookie of the Year were Corbin Carroll of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kodai Senga of the New York Mets, and James Outman of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Corbin Carroll is the runaway favorite for the award, but the exclusion of Rockies rookie outfielder Nolan Jones from the top three came as a legitimate shock.
Unlike his Gold Glove candidacy, Jones was not below some set level for eligibility. However, Jones definitely did have his comparatively less playing time working against him. He appeared in 45 fewer games than Outman and 49 fewer than likely winner Carroll.
However, Jones does qualify for Rookie of the Year voting by BBWAA standards. I would even argue that his limited playing time—having only started regularly playing in late May—makes his season even more impressive.
Despite playing fewer games, Jones was able to put up comparable numbers to Carroll—even surpassing him in several ways—while completely outperforming Outman by basically every offensive metric.
NL ROTY Finalists - Standard Primary Stats 2023
In over 200 fewer plate appearances, Jones had a better OPS, OPS+, and wRC+ than Carroll while being in spitting distance for home runs and doubles. Carroll also drew just four more walks than Jones. However, Carroll beat Jones in both measures of wins above replacement on his way to a 25/50 season while helping his team to their first World Series appearance in over 20 years.
When it comes to Outman, the difference is even more apparent. Outman had over 100 more plate appearances than Jones and only surpassed him when it came to RBI, home runs, and walks. Even then, Jones was not far behind.
Jones’ excellent offensive season was capped off with an explosive September in which he outperformed the National League’s other rookies on his way to a 20/20 season, the first in franchise history. Jones is one of just 16 players with 20/20 rookie campaigns and the only one to accomplish it while playing under 130 games and logging fewer than 425 plate appearances.
In addition to his skills at the plate, Jones also excelled with his glove. While Outman led the pack in outs above average and Carroll was the leader in fielding percentage, Jones had more defensive runs saved and both a better ultimate zone rating and UZR/150.
NL ROTY Finalists - Position Player Fielding 2023
Jones was not only better than his fellow rookies, he was better than most outfielders across the league. Had he qualified, he might have been a front runner for the NL Gold Glove in left field with a better DRS than the three finalists. He also had the strongest average arm strength in all of baseball at 98.9 MPH that helped him lead the league with 19 outfield assists
Although he saw less playing time due to a late start, it’s disappointing to see Nolan Jones not named a finalist for Rookie of the Year. The Rockies have only had one winner—Jason Jennings in 2002—and haven’t had a top three finalist since Troy Tulowitzki in 2007. Despite the miserable season the Rockies endured, Nolan Jones was one of the best and most exciting rookies in baseball. It’s a shame he wasn’t given the recognition he earned.
★ ★ ★
While Nolan Jones may not have been voted an NL Rookie of the Year finalist, he was nominated for the fifth annual All-MLB team. Jones is the only Rockies nominee and you can cast your vote for the All-MLB team by following the link. Here’s hoping fans can get Jones the some recognition!
In an excerpt from his newsletter, Rockies beat writer Thomas Harding highlights minor league reliever Juan Mejia. Mejia been praised by the organization for maturing this season and recently was named to the Arizona Fall League’s “Fall Stars” team.
★ ★ ★
Arizona Fall League
The Salt River Rafters did not play on Wednesday. They will play their final game of the season this afternoon. with Rockies prospect Case Williams making the start against the Peoria Javelinas. The Arizona Fall League concludes on Saturday night.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!