By Megan Ryan
With the Twins taking on the Royals this week, there are three American League Rookie of the Year candidates in the park: Kansas City shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., along with Twins infielder Jose Miranda and reliever Jhoan Duran.
Witt has 72 RBI, 20 home runs, 26 doubles, six triples and 27 stolen bases in 131 games. Miranda, at 24 years old, has played in 103 games with 63 RBI, 15 home runs and 20 doubles, batting .279 to Witt’s .249.
Duran has worked his way into high-leverage, late-game situations, pitching 62 2/3 innings through 52 games. He had a 2-3 record and 1.72 ERA with six saves in six opportunities and 18 holds, keeping opponents to a .194 batting average with 82 strikeouts. He also regularly throws faster than 100 mph, even when it’s not a fastball.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Duran has been his biggest surprise this season, as the 24-year-old has been so “consistently spectacular” since he made the Opening Day roster.
“He’s been one of the best rookie relievers of all time,” Baldelli said. “… He’s saved the game for us so many times in the biggest moments, and he just continually does that over and over again. He does it in style. He’s not trying to be stylish, but the way he pitches, obviously, is going to attract a lot of attention.”
Duran only recently moved from being a starter to a bullpen arm, but his transition to the big leagues has been seamless. Miranda had a bit more of an adjustment to make, even very briefly going back to Class AAA at the end of May. But since then, he’s become one of the Twins’ most reliable hitters, hitting over .300 since June.
Baldelli said Miranda already has a highlight reel full of “game-changing moments.”
“Put his numbers and his smile up on the page right next to it, and you’ve got a pretty good selling point,” Baldelli said.”
In the latest MLB.com poll, though, the top two candidates remain Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez and Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman. Entering Tuesday, Rodriguez had 71 RBI and 25 homers, plus 23 doubles and three triples. He also had 24 stolen bases and a .834 OPS. Rutschman has an .807 OPS with 32 RBI, 10 home runs, 30 doubles and a triple.
Those two players have also put their teams in playoff contention