In a normal year, Victor Robles’ performance might have been enough to warrant serious consideration for Rookie of the Year honors. This, however, was no normal year, which meant the Nationals center fielder wound up well down the list in voting among his fellow first-year players.
Robles finished sixth in the race for 2019 National League Rookie of the Year, an award that went to Mets first baseman Pete Alonso in overwhelming fashion.
Alonso, who set a new major league record for home runs by a rookie with 53, earned the first-place vote of 29 of the 30 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (two from each NL city) who submitted ballots at the end of the regular season.
Braves right-hander Mike Soroka, who ranked third among all qualifying NL pitchers with a 2.68 ERA, received the other first-place vote and finished in second place overall. Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who may have been on track to win the award before his season was cut short in August due to a back injury, finished third after batting .317 with 22 homers and a .969 OPS in 84 games.
Others who received votes during a banner season for rookies were Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds, Cardinals right-hander Dakota Hudson and Robles, who received one third-place vote.
Robles may not have stacked up to the best rookies in the league, but his first full big league season was nothing to scoff at. The 22-year-old hit .255 with 33 doubles, 17 homers, 65 RBIs and a .745 OPS in 155 games (second only to Alonso’s 161 games played among NL rookies). He really shone in the field, where his 22 Defensive Runs Saved were tops among all non-catchers throughout the majors, according to FanGraphs.com.
All of that together gave Robles a 4.1 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference.com, which ranked fourth among NL rookies behind Soroka (5.7), Alonso (5.0) and Tatis Jr. (4.2).