Amidst talented rookie class, Brewers’ Hiura standing out in second half

It was shaping up to be a fun two-player race for the National League Rookie of the Year award down the stretch between New York’s Pete Alonso and San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. before Tatis suffered a back injury last week that will likely end his season.

With a solo shot Sunday afternoon, Alonso became first rookie in NL history to hit 40 homers in a season. He’s got the Rookie of the Year award in the bag.

Alonso is lucky Milwaukee Brewers infielder Keston Hiura doesn’t have more plate appearances.

Hiura doesn’t have a shot at the award based on games played alone — he made his big-league debut May 14 and was optioned down to Triple-A for much of June, while Alonso started on Opening Day and has seen almost 300 more plate appearances than Hiura.

Too bad MLB doesn’t hand out awards for the second half of the season.

Hiura has been putting up impressive numbers since the All-Star break. He leads all MLB rookies (minimum 100 PA) with 48 hits, 17 doubles and a .345 batting average in that span, helped by six games of three or more hits. Hiura also ranks second in on-base percentage (.417), fifth in RBI (25) and sixth in homers (7).

MLB rookies since All-Star break

Keston Hiura 156 17 7 25 .345 .417 .647
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 143 9 7 30 .341 .406 .589
Josh VanMeter 101 7 4 11 .333 .406 .544
Bo Bichette 107 12 7 11 .320 .364 .650
Yordan Alvarez 162 10 12 32 .319 .420 .659
Austin Nola 117 7 6 15 .311 .371 .566

He’ll put his electric second half to the test this weekend against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who boast an impressive rookie of their own. Arizona starting pitcher Merrill Kelly has registered the second-most strikeouts among rookie pitchers (114), just behind San Diego’s Chris Paddack (121).

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— Milwaukee has won eight of its last 10 matchups against Arizona, outscoring the Diamondbacks 57-28 in those games. The Brewers rank last in the NL with a .246 batting average with runners in scoring position this season, but they’ve logged a .348 BA with RISP against Arizona in those 10 games.

— Opponents logged a .327 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) against Jordan Lyles when he pitched for Pittsburgh this season. That number has decreased dramatically with the Brewers (.204), a big factor in the difference in his ERA — 5.36 with Pittsburgh (82 1/3 innings) and 3.43 ERA (21 innings).

Mike Moustakas and Christian Yelich have a chance to go down as the most powerful pair of teammates in Brewers franchise history. The two sluggers have combined for 72 homers this season, just seven behind Richie Sexson and Jeromy Burnitz, who mashed a total of 79 homers in 2001.

Statistics courtesy Sportradar,