Revisiting the NL ROY race

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Though there isn’t much drama in the
National League’s divisional races, the field for the Rookie of the
Year Award is more competitive than at any point this season. Last
month, I favored southpaw J.A. Happ for the award with Randy Wells as his closest competition
down the stretch.




Here’s just a few of the notable performers since my last check-in:



J.A. Happ



Season: 10-4 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.19 WHIP):



Since August 23: 0-2 with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP over three starts.



Happ missed two starts with an
oblique injury. He was pulled from Friday’s start for precautionary
reasons, but should be fine for his next start. Some individual
hardware would be
nice, but the Phillies clearly have the bigger picture in mind.



Randy Wells



Season: 10-9 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.28 WHIP



Since August 23: 1-3 with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP over five starts



Wells has been uncharacteristically
wild of late, walking 14 batters over his last 26 2/3 innings,
including a career-high five in a 7-4 loss to the Brewers last week.




Tommy Hanson



Season: 10-3 with a 2.65 ERA and 1.18 WHIP)



Since August 23: 1-1 with a 0.82 ERA and 0.86 WHIP over four starts



While the other favorites have
faded, Hanson has pitched some his best baseball recently, having gone
17 innings without allowing a run, including back-to-back scoreless
outings against the Astros and Mets.




Chris Coghlan



Season: .310/.380/.450 with nine homers, 42 RBI and 74 runs scored



Since August 23: .381/.431/.558 with two homers, eight RBI and 22 runs scored in 113 at-bats



Coghlan already created quite a buzz
last month with a 12-game hitting streak, including eight straight
mulit-hit games, but his recent success has vaulted him into serious
ROY consideration. Coghlan leads the majors with 30 hits in September.
Only Derrek Lee (19) has scored more runs than Coghlan (17) this month.




Here’s the National League rookies ranked by VORP (batters and pitchers):



1) Happ (PHI) – 46.2

2) Hanson (ATL) – 33.5

3) Wells (CHC) – 30.2

4) Garrett Jones (PIT) – 28.5

5) Coghlan (FLA) – 27.9

6) Casey McGehee (MIL) – 26.0

7) Andrew McCutchen  (PIT) – 23.5

8) Ronald Belisario (LAD) – 22.4

9) Dexter Fowler (COL) – 20.4

10) Everth Cabrera (SD) – 20.1



Many people forget that Jones leads
all major league rookies with 19 home runs. As you can see, Happ still
looks like the heavy favorite, in large part because of the three
complete games and his strong showing as a reliever (2.49 ERA and 1.06
WHIP in 21 2/3 innings) before joining the rotation. While Coghlan is
an intriguing spark plug at the top of the Marlins lineup, I view
Hanson as the biggest threat to Happ at this point, especially if the
Phillies continue to be cautious in preparation for the postseason. But with only a couple of starts left after Sunday, Hanson is running out of time to make his mark.




If you still think there’s still a little room for some baseball talk on this football Sunday, feel free to follow me on Twitter.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.