In 2014, Jacob deGrom won the NL award with a 2.69 ERA in 22 starts, and the hitters who finished second and third — Billy Hamilton and Kolten Wong — both posted identical .292 on-base percentages. Reynolds, with his .335 average and .410 on-base percentage, would have easily finished at least above those two hitters. In 2009, Chris Coghlan won the NL award with a .321 average, .390 on-base percentage, nine home runs and a 1.1 bWAR (though WAR numbers weren’t a thing then). Reynolds’ numbers are superior pretty much across the board.Problem is, Reynolds is playing in a bad year to collect rookie hardware. Or, y’know, to collect casual mentions among a handful of the outstanding rookies we’re watching in 2019. Not much has gone right for the Pirates or their fans since the All-Star break.The club is just 6-25 since the second half started — easily the worst record in the bigs in that stretch — and the only trade deadline of the season passed without any significant deals bringing back reinforcements to help future seasons. So it’s understandable that Pirates fans online are feeling a bit slighted right now, by their own front office, by fans of other teams and even by writers who hold no ill will toward the franchise. Hi!Merely mentioning the plethora of outstanding rookie hitters throughout MLB this season — in a poll or in an intro to a separate column — but not specifically singling out Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh’s shining rookie, it seems, was seen as a slight of epic proportions and confirmation of a vast anti-Pittsburgh media conspiracy. MORE: Five MLB stars closing in on significant milestonesIt was neither of those things, of course. In both cases, I was only mentioning a handful of exciting rookies, not claiming they were the only excellent rookies of 2019. Reynolds, the former second-round pick by the Giants who was the key piece to the trade that sent franchise icon Andrew McCutchen from Pittsburgh to San Francisco, has been outstanding this year. Reynolds is compiling a truly amazing rookie campaign, but Pirates fans should begin steeling themselves for an unpleasant reality when the awards are announced in November. And we’ll get to that in a moment.First, a bit about Reynolds’ season, and then a little historical perspective. Reynolds enters play Friday leading the National League with a .335 batting average, which is just three points behind MLB leader D.J. LeMahieu. Reynolds’ journey to the majors was relatively short, which shouldn’t be surprising for a hitting star at college baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt. Reynolds hit .313 in his first year as a pro, in 2016, then .312 at High-A in 2017 and .302 in Double-A last year after he was traded from the Giants to the Pirates. He started the 2019 season in Triple-A, but was called up after batting .367 with five homers in 13 games. Reynolds opened his big league career with an 11-game hitting streak and never really slowed down. He hit .322 with a .918 OPS in May and .369 with a .961 OPS in June. After a so-so July (.256/.752), Reynolds has hit .404 with a 1.236 OPS in a dozen August contests. It’s not that Reynolds is a one-trick, singles-only pony, either. He leads the Pirates with a 3.6 bWAR and on-base percentage (.410), is tied for first in OPS+ (146), second in OPS (.947), is tied for second in doubles (25), third in homers (13) and total bases (181), and fourth in RBIs (49). But let’s take a bigger picture look: How does a .335 average for a rookie rank, historically? Let’s start here: No rookie has ever led the NL in batting average for a season. So, yeah. That would be quite the feather in Reynolds’ cap. Tony Oliva and Ichiro Suzuki are the only rookies to ever lead the AL in batting average, but Ichiro was already an accomplished professional hitter by the time he jumped from Japan to Seattle for the 2001 season. Shoeless Joe Jackson holds the record for the highest batting average by a rookie — .408 in 1911 — but he didn’t even win the batting title that year, because Ty Cobb hit .419. That, of course, was a different era. So let’s just look at a more modern era, arbitrarily using the introduction of the Rookie of the Year award in 1947 — Jackie Robinson was the first winner, remember? — as the line. Since 1947, only two rookies with at least 400 plate appearances have had a better batting average than Reynolds’ current .335 — Ichiro (.350) in 2001 and Ralph Garr (.343) in 1971. MORE: Astros’ Aaron Sanchez has time to find grooveNow let’s look at how rookies with high averages have fared in Rookie of the Year voting. Since 1947, 22 rookies with at least 400 PAs have batted at least .320 for a season; 10 won their league’s RoY award, five finished second, two finished third and two finished fourth. Only three failed to receive any votes — Garr in 1971, Dusty Baker (.321) in 1972 and Homer Bush (.320) in 1999. And this is where we run into the Pirates-fans-are-gonna-be-upset part. Even though he’s had a great season, Reynolds almost certainly isn’t going to win the NL Rookie of the Year award and he’s probably not going to finish second, either. He’s not even likely to finish third. The problem is, the NL is stacked with rookies having great seasons. Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. leads all MLB rookie hitters with his 4.2 bWAR — he spent a couple of weeks on the IL, but he’s batting .317 with a .969 OPS, 21 homers, 16 stolen bases and 53 RBIs. Mets first baseman Pete Alonso has a 3.9 bWAR to go with 39 home runs, 91 RBIs and a .965 OPS. Braves right-hander Mike Soroka has a 4.5 bWAR, with a 2.32 ERA and 198 ERA+ in 21 starts.And here’s the thing: The Rookie of the Year ballots only have three spots, fewer than the Cy Young ballots (five spots) or the MVP ballots (10 spots). The award is voted on by the BBWAA, and the size of the ballot is set by the BBWAA, not MLB. There have been discussions in the past about increasing the size, but that hasn’t happened.And because the ballot only has three spots and because Tatis, Alonso and Soroka are having incredible seasons, it’s entirely possible that not only will Reynolds not finish first, second or third, but it’s possible he won’t get more than a handful of votes at all, if any. And it’s not just Reynolds, of course. Other NL rookies having outstanding seasons will be left empty-handed, including Alex Verdugo (3.2 bWAR), Victor Robles (2.6 bWAR), Kevin Newman (.304 average), Christian Walker (21 homers), Keston Hiura (.962 OPS in 57 games), Mike Yastrzemski (13 homers, .831 OPS in 69 games) and other short-time/big-impact guys like Will Smith (nine homers, 1.208 OPS in 24 games) and Aristides Aquino (nine homers, 1.369 OPS in 14 games). But we’re focused on Reynolds here, and, well, this timing sucks for Reynolds and for Pirates fans. There have been years when Reynolds, with his numbers, would have been an easy choice for first or second place.