It's time to dispel some inaccurate rumors flying around about Gary Sanchez and whether or not he is eligible for American League Rookie of the Year consideration. It's nearly impossible to find how rumors like these start. My best guess is that it started with a Daily News story entitled "Should Gary Sanchez win Rookie of the Year despite playing fewer than 60 games? THAT’S DEBATABLE". In their defense, if you read the article, they never suggest that he doesn't qualify. Their point was that he may not have played enough this season like some of the other contenders for Rookie of the Year. Now if you only read the title, you may have drawn the wrong conclusion and, well, that's how rumors start.
Let's set the record straight. To be eligible for Rookie of the Year, you have to be a rookie defined as follows:
A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service and time on the disabled list).Rules, regulations and statistics | MLB.comHis 131st career at-bat took place on September 12 at the Stadium against the Dodgers - ironically, a game I was at! So he is definitely eligible as far as the rules go. The only question remaining is whether or not he'll get the votes from the members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Honestly, I call that a question out of courtesy to the other players having the misfortune of starting their careers in the American League this year. I am sure their prospects looked great in July.
If you take all the players who are considered rookies this year with 100 or more at-bats and start comparing their stats, it's clear who is the top player. His OPS (1.137) is more than 200 points better than second place. His slugging percentage is more than 150 points better than the guy in second. He leads in batting average with .329, better than Derek Jeter's .314 in his 1996 Rookie of the Year campaign. If he had as many at-bats as Trevor Story, who plays in homer-happy Coors Field and leads rookies in home runs, Sanchez would have over 40 home runs by now. NBC Sports' Bill Baer got it right when he said that Gary Sanchez is "running away" with this.
That "if he had as many at-bats" statement headlines the critics' claim that Sanchez doesn't deserve the award because he hasn't had to endure a full season of play. Clearly, baseball recognizes that you cannot give the ROY award to a guy who only played a few games, just like they cannot give the batting title to someone hitting .500 who had only two at-bats and was lucky enough to get a hit. That's why they have the minimums the way they do. If having 130 at-bats takes you out of eligibility as a rookie, it should be enough to warrant consideration.
We'll see what the baseball writers decide. This is a slam dunk. Unless something dramatic happens in the last 10 games of the season, this is a done deal. He will be the 9th Yankee to win the award, joining Jeter, Dave Righetti, Thurman Munson, Stan Bahnsen, Tom Tresh, Tony Kubek, Gil McDougald, and Bob Grim.