The Padres’ star rookie pitcher Chris Paddack is making the national media pay attention to his starts.
Monday night, MLB.com released their writers poll for the National League and American League Rookie of the Year winners. Of the 36 possible first-place votes, Chris Paddack received 24 of them, four times more than the votes the Mets’ rookie slugger Alonso received.
“Only six NL rookies received votes, and while Paddack got 24 first-place votes, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (six), Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo (three) and Braves right-hander Mike Soroka (three) all got first-place mentions.”
Richard Justice, the author of the article, justifies putting Paddack in the number one slot just over a quarter of the way through the season.
“Paddack works off a fastball/changeup combination that has elevated him to an elite level. Over his nine starts, he averaged 9.82 strikeouts per nine innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer seven times. The challenge for the Padres is managing his workload. He threw 90 innings in the Minors last season in his return from Tommy John surgery and had already reached 51 1/3 innings after Monday’s start.”
Paddack currently has the third-lowest FIP in the National League at 2.74 with his 1.93 ERA also good enough for fourth in the league. If the season ended today, Paddack would certainly deserve the award.
Chris Paddack's 1.93 ERA is the lowest of any Padres pitcher through nine career starts. He has allowed one earned run or fewer in 6 of 9 starts.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) May 21, 2019
Fernando Tatis Jr. also received votes in this poll, despite having missed the last three-plus weeks. Once he returns, he should also firmly place his name in the running.
Paddack is doing something special in San Diego. The Padres have never seen a rookie pitcher like him. He is already at 1.5 WAR, which is already higher than any starting pitcher the Padres threw out in 2018. The rookie record for WAR by a Padres pitcher is 3.4 by Steve Arlin in 1971, which Paddack could certainly exceed, even with his innings limit. ZiPS projections have Paddack finishing at 2.6, but he is on pace for 5.1.
There are still roughly three-quarters of the season left to play out before the Rookie of the Year hardware is dished out, but it seems like if Paddack’s goal was to get a strong hold on the national media’s attention, mission accomplished.