Roberto Osuna came out of nowhere to crack the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen out of spring training. Sure, the promising right-hander had sat atop Blue Jays prospect lists, but his arrival date landed well before anyone could have expected. Now that the 20-year old Osuna has moved into the closer’s role without skipping a beat, he’s getting some top-3 consideration in a talented pool of candidates for American League Rookie of the Year.
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Houston’s Carlos Correa is the trump card in this conversation, unfortunately, and likely ends any hope of Osuna earning the honor out of Toronto’s bullpen. The Astros’ top prospect has burst onto the scene this season with 14 home runs and an .888 OPS in just 61 games. Osuna’s 1.98 ERA, 0.878 WHIP and 14 saves are impressive, but Correa’s production from the shortstop position is hard to ignore.
In this recent article, Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com breaks down the other top candidates behind Correa, ranking Osuna fifth behind Billy Burns of the Athletics, Nate Karns of the Rays and Francisco Lindor of the Indians. While I buy Correa over Osuna without any hesitation, our mighty closer has to leapfrog some of these names, right?
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Lindor has enjoyed a late surge that has pushed his slash line to .290 / .325 / .397, but hasn’t made out-of-the-ordinary contributions with his power (5 HR) or speed (3 SB, 2 CS). All very impressive for the young shortstop whose potential is sky-high, but I feel there’s plenty of room, at the very least, for the discussion of Osuna being voted above him.
The same goes for Oakland’s Billy Burns, the 25-year old speed demon that’s recorded 26 stolen bases to go along with an average of .291. Nate Karns has pitched 130 innings over 23 starts as a 27-year old rookie (don’t get me started on that), but with a 7-5 record, 3.53 ERA and 1.238 WHIP, I group him right alongside Lindor and Burns. Impressive numbers, impressive players, but not head and shoulders above Osuna.
Josh Donaldson‘s American League MVP campaign has introduced us to the strange nature of these made-up awards. This isn’t a batting title where .321 beats .319 every time, so issues of team role, team success, positional value and market could all factor in to some extent.
I’ve been asked more and more lately about Osuna’s Rookie of the year chances, and in a different class, I might be confident that he’d take home the hardware. To come runner-up behind Carlos Correa would be no small feat, however, and I’d be just fine with that. Osuna has been Toronto’s Rookie of the Year, and without David Price you might even hand him the team Cy Young. And again, the one number I still struggle to comprehend: the kid is 20.