National League Rookie of the Year award: Swanson at head of the class

Tom Verducci

​Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres

The No. 13 pick in the 2013 draft has been anything but unlucky in his brief career. He hit 77 home runs in the minor leagues and another four in an 11-game cameo at the end of last season. He's an aggressive hitter with legitimate power.

Ben Reiter

​Robert Gsellman, RHP, New York Mets

Thanks to the Mets’ collection of young aces, you never heard about Gsellman when he was in the minors. But he went 4–2 with a 2.42 ERA in seven gutsy starts for New York last year, and his fastball velocity was for real—around 94 mph, on average. He could sneak up on frontrunners like Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson and Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow.

Albert Chen

Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

I'm buying the Pirates as a playoff team because of the young pitchers: Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl and Glasnow, who has the best pure stuff on the staff, as his jaw-dropping minor league strikeout numbers (645 in exactly 500 innings) indicate. There will be bumps in the road, but by September, just as the Pirates are fending off the Mets, Cardinals and Rockies for that second wild card, Glasnow will be The Man in Pittsburgh's rotation.

Jack Dickey

Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves

Swanson does everything well, and he’ll be the biggest draw to the Atlanta rebuild on nights when Julio Teheran and Bartolo Colon aren’t pitching.

Jay Jaffe

​Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves

While the still-rebuilding Braves may be in for some rough days in their new ballpark, Swanson already looks the part of a franchise centerpiece, and his play will help to make the team worth watching this year.

Ted Keith

Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves

You could do worse when planning a promotional campaign to reboot your franchise then to center it around a native son. And you could do worse to rebuild that franchise on the field than to do it around a former No. 1 overall pick. In Swanson, the Braves get to do both. Swanson hit .302 in a lengthy, 38-game first pass through the majors last year, which should help him mature quickly enough in 2017 to win this award handily.

Emma Span

Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres

The Padres’ rightfielder will get plenty of time to find his legs in the majors—the one upside to being on a team that isn’t going anywhere this season. He destroyed Triple A pitching last year (.306/.336/.557) and did the same in a brief 11-game stint in the majors (.371/.389/.800), and his defense should provide value even if he struggles at the plate.

Jon Tayler

Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves

Like Benintendi, Swanson fell just short of the rookie cutoff last year, collecting 129 at-bats. He displayed plenty of franchise-changing talent in his brief debut, flashing a solid glove at short and a potent bat. The NL rookie crop is not a strong one—the loss of Cardinals starter Alex Reyes to Tommy John surgery robbed the field of its leading contender—but Swanson is good enough to step up and take the award as the new face of the Braves.

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