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Cardinals 10, Giants 0 at Busch

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Dakota Hudson pitches in the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019 at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 10-0, with Hudson picking up his 15th win on the season. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com.

Let's call it the “Roy Oswalt Award.”

In the year 2001, the Astros' Roy Oswalt had one of the best seasons ever for a rookie pitcher. He was 14-3 with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. In 141 1/3 innings, opponents hit .191 against him. His WAR on baseball-reference.com was 4.8, exactly 1.0 better than Kerry Wood's WAR in 1998, the year Wood won Rookie of the Year. But in 2001, Oswalt didn't get even one first-place vote for ROY.

Because Albert Pujols won the thing unanimously.

It wasn't Oswalt's fault that he arrived to the National League the same year the rookie Pujols slashed .329/.403/.610.

And so, the “Roy Oswalt Award” should go to the best rookie pitcher if a hitter wins the Rookie of the Year. We can even call it the “Roy ROY.”

This year, the Cardinals' Dakota Hudson is definitely a candidate for the “Roy ROY.”

In Colorado, Hudson pitches tonight for the Cardinals. It's his last start as a 24-year-old (he turns 25 Saturday). And he's been locked-in lately. In his past six starts, his ERA is 1.49.

Hudson has emerged as the Cardinals' No. 2 starter. Overall, he has a 3.40 ERA and baseball's best groundball rate (57.1 percent). His record is 15-6 (and he even has a save this season!). But Pete Alonso will likely win the regular ol' ROY. This guy has 47 homers. And a .961 OPS. He's the Mets rookie sensation Gregg Jeffries never was.

OK, so will Hudson at least win the “Roy ROY?”

Could be tough.

The Braves have a fellow named Mike Soroka. He's started 26 games (Hudson has started 29), and Soroka's ERA is 2.67. That's third-best in the National League. Not among rookie pitchers. Of all starting pitchers. Soroka trails only St. Louis native Max Scherzer (2.56) and leader Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers (2.45).

Soroka is 11-4 and made the All-Star team. His adjusted ERA (ERA+) is 172, trailing only Scherzer's 182. And Soroka leads the National League with fewest homers per nine innings at 0.74.

Soroka turned 22 this August. He was the 28th overall pick in 2015 (out of, all places, Calgary). And he's well on his way to winning the 2019 “Roy ROY” (incidentally, when hockey people say the acronym for Rookie of the Year, do they call it “Waaaah?”).

But this October, it's possible the Braves and Cards could meet in the National League Division Series – a Hudson-Soroka match-up would surely determine, once and for all, true “Roy ROY” supremacy.

In the NL this year, there are other rookie pitchers who could be considered as “Roy ROY” runner-ups. Some have Cardinals ties.

Former Cardinal Sandy Alcantara has a 4.04 ERA for Miami, the team that acquired him in the Marcell Ozuna trade. The fireballing Sandy is 10th in the entire NL in homers per nine innings (.996). But perhaps the best pitcher that will come out of that trade is Zac Gallen. He leads rookie starters with 11.02 strikeouts per nine, as if he's trying to make up for the lack of K in his name.

Gallen was a Cardinals' third-round pick in 2015, plucked from the pitching factory that is the University of North Carolina. In 2017, Gallen started at Class-A ball, then pitched in Springfield and finally Memphis, finishing his year with a 2.93 combined ERA. He was included in the Ozuna trade that fall.

Gallen made his major league debut in 2019 with the Marlins … against the Cardinals. One might recall his nasty cutter in the Cards' 7-6, 11-inning loss at Miami on June 20. Gallen started for the home team, pitching five innings, allowing just one run.

At the trade deadline though, Gallen was dealt to the Diamondbacks. He's made only 14 starts overall this season, but has a sterling 2.66 ERA. He'll be a good NL pitcher for years to come.

One more “Roy ROY” runner-up candidate is San Diego's Chris Paddack. He's got a 3.54 ERA in 24 starts and is tied with Arizona's Merrill Kelly with a NL rookie league-high 137 strikeouts (Kelly, however, has a 4.68 ERA).

If we're ranking “Roy ROY” candidates by wins above replacement, Hudson interestingly doesn't fare well. But here in St. Louis, we know Hudson's importance to the Cardinals on their quest for their first division title since 2015.

Mike Soroka, Braves – 3.6

Chris Paddack, Padres – 2.1

Sandy Alcantara, Marlins – 1.9

Zac Gallen, Marlins/Diamondbacks – 1.9

Giovanny Gallegos, Cardinals (relief pitcher) – 1.6

Merrill Kelly, Diamondbacks – 1.5

Wander Suero, Nationals (relief pitcher) – 1.4

Adrian Houser, Brewers – 1.3

Cal Quantrill, Padres – 1.1

Alex Young, Diamondbacks – 1.0

Nick Anderson, Marlins (relief pitcher) – 1.0

Dakota Hudson, Cardinals – 0.9 (however, per baseball-reference.com, Hudson's WAR is 1.4. Soroka's is 5.0).

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