Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Top 35 rookies in the MLB



         The 2019 MLB season might have the best rookie class in a very long time. Many rookies are making major impacts for their team, some were all-stars, two of them went head to head in the Homer Run Derby final, and a handful more were all-stars. This postseason, we'll see some of the following players, though a lot of them are a big part of their team's youth movement and will one day help them get to the playoffs. Also, Mike Tauchman, Giovanny Gallegos, Daniel Vogelbach and Carson Kelly might be looked at as rookies, but lost status in 2018.

          35: Ty Buttrey, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
Buttrey debuted for the Angels last year, with four saves in 16 games after being acquired from the Red Sox for Ian Kinsler. He is still a rookie, and while he has just two saves, he has an impressive 3.46 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 54.2 innings.

          34: Danny Jansen, C, Toronto Blue Jays
Jansen is part of the young Blue Jays infield (yes, the catcher is part of the infield), and also leads rookies with a 15.3 DEF. The player in second, Nicky Lopez, has a 5.3 DEF. Of players with at least 300 Plate Appearances, Jansen is third in the majors in DEF, behind JT Realmuto and Christian Vazquez. His .212 average, .658 OPS and 74 OPS+ aren't impressive, but he does have 11 home runs, tied for 16th among catchers.

          33: Nestor Cortes, Jr., LHP, New York Yankees
This could be biased, but Cortes has been huge for the Yankees this year. He doesn't actually have a start, but in 20 games, he has a 4.18 ERA, a 5-0 record and 45 strikeouts in 47.1 innings. He has been the bulk guy after an opener many times this year, and with all the Yankees' injuries, the 24 year old has stepped up big time.

          32: Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Miami Marlins
There is a lot of pitchers at the bottom of the list, but it's nearly all hitters at the top. 12 of the top 15 are position players. Alcantara leads rookies in innings pitched, with 135.2. He was an all-star, with a 3.82 ERA at the break, though that has now gone up to 4.44, which is still respectable for a 23 year old on a terrible team.

           31: Josh VanMeter, 2B, Cincinnati Reds
VanMeter has been up and down for the Reds this year, but in 52 games, he has four homers, four stolen bases, 12 RBIs, a .277 average, and a .851 OPS. Nothing here that will blow you away, but nothing bad. The OPS helped him the most. With the team claiming Freddy Galvis off waivers, VanMeter will probably see a drop in play.
       
           30: Nate Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays
Lowe and the next guy on this list don't have many games played, but have impressive numbers, so I included them on the list, along with two other teammates. Yep, that's right. The Rays have four rookies on this list. Lowe has a .294 average with five homers and 13 RBIs in 30 games. He has a .875 OPS and 130 OPS+. He has 46 homers over the last two seasons, including minors and majors.

           29: Mike Brosseau, 3B/2B, Tampa Bay Rays
The other half of the Rays young duo with impressive numbers in just about 30 games, the undrafted Brosseau has less at-bats than Lowe, despite playing in one more game, but also has five homers. He also has 14 RBIs, a .302 average, .864 OPS and 125 OPS+.

           28: Marcus Walden, RHP, Boston Red Sox
This starts the run of relievers, with the next four players (including Walden) coming out of the pen. The oldest player on the list, the 30-year-old Walden has helped a Boston bullpen that has been in shambles this season. In 60 innings, he has a 3.30 ERA with 62 strikeouts, plus a pair of saves. He also has an impressive 1.050 WHIP.

           27: Jacob Webb, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Like Walden, Webb has been a surprise reliever for a contender that desperately needs bullpen help. Webb has a very impressive 1.39 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 32.1 innings this year. A 4.30 FIP has him falling a little bit, but it doesn't deny how good Webb has been.

           26: Yoan Lopez, RHP, Arizona Diamonbacks
The Diamondbacks lost their closer, Brad Boxberger in the offseason, and just released the struggling Greg Holland. Yoshi Hirano has been inconsistent, and the same could be said for Archie Bradley. With that said, Lopez has probably been Arizona's best reliever this year. He has been very consistent, though he had a rough week in July. He has a 2.54 ERA in 46 innings, but he has just 32 strikeouts which hurts his FIP. On July 21st, he had a 2.79 ERA, the highest he has had all year.

           25: Nick Anderson, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
The only player on the list to play for two teams this year, Anderson has spent most of his time in Miami before the trade deadline deal to Tampa. The 29-year-old has allowed one hit with 11 strikeouts in five innings with Tampa. Overall, he has a 3.51 ERA with 80 strikeouts in just 48.2 innings. He likely would have been the Miami closer if not traded.

           24: Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White SoxA top five prospect entering 2019, Jimenez has been inconsistent in his freshman season, with 19 home runs, but a .237 average, a .747 OPS and a 94 OPS+. His -8.5 DEF is fourth lowest among rookies, and second lowest on this list.

           23: Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals
None of the players mentioned up to this point were supposed to have a big impact this season. After what teammate Juan Soto did last year, expectations were high for Robles, the 22 year old listed as the Nats' top prospect. He has come through defensively, with a 4.1 DEF. Offensively, he has just a .733 OPS with an 85 OPS+. He does have 15 homers and 17 stolen bases, but the he also leads the league being caught stealing seven times.

           22: Kevin Newman, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
Newman struggled offensively late in 2018, his first taste of major league baseball. He has adjusted, with a .304 batting average, seven homers, 41 RBIs, 10 stolen bases (he has been caught a third of the time), a .767 OPS and 101 OPS+.

            21: Dakota Hudson, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Hudson had success out of the bullpen last year, but as a starter in 2019, he has a 4.01 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 121.1 innings. Don't worry about the strikeouts, he isn't a strikeout pitcher. Only twice has he allowed more than three earned runs in a game. He also has 12 quality starts.

            20: Spencer Turnbull, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Turnbull came out of nowhere to become the second best pitcher in the Tigers' rotation this season, behind Matt Boyd. Despite two recent IL trips, he has been very consistent, with a 3.68 ERA in 107.2 innings, with 98 strikeouts. That's about as high as his ERA has been this year, excluding three bad starts to open the year. The highest was 3.72, just before his latest start.

             19: Zach Plesac, RHP, Cleveland Indians
In a year that the Indians have lost their top two starters to a fractured arm and leukemia, Plesac has stepped up big, with a 3.27 ERA in 14 starts (77 innings). His FIP is pretty high (5.04) due to a low 6.5 K/9. With Trevor Bauer now traded, Plesac has an even bigger role. The Indians are flying, and Plesac has only had three bad starts this year, but got the win in one of them.

             18: Oscar Mercado, CF, Cleveland Indians
Mercado has fulfilled the center field position for the Indians, and while he is having a good season, none of his numbers are eye-popping. He has nine home runs and stolen bases, which are both decent. He has a .272 average and .755 OPS, which are both decent. He has a 1.0 WAR, which is just decent. Nothing bad, but nothing good.

             17: Nick Senzel, CF, Cincinnati Reds
The 2nd overall pick in 2016 finally got his call to the bigs this year, and like Mercado, has been good, but nothing special. He has a .273 batting average, with nine homers, 10 stolen bases and a .776 OPS. It isn't amazing, but it is slightly better than Mercado.

             16: Michael Chavis, 1B/2B, Boston Red Sox
The injuries to Steve Pearce, Mitch Moreland and Dustin Pedrioa, plus the release of Eduardo Nunez gave Chavis two places to play, and while he started off hot, he has cooled down since. He has 18 homers and 58 RBIs, but the batting average is down to .254, and the OPS is down to .766. Chavis is also out for the next 3-4 weeks with a sprained left AC joint.

             15: Mike Yastrzemski, OF, San Francisco Giants
The grandson of hall of famer Carl Yastrzemski, Mike has a .266 average, with 12 home runs, 38 RBIs and a .821 OPS. He also has a 114 OPS+. He has given help to a Giants outfield that desperately needed it.

             14: Austin Riley, LF/3B, Atlanta Braves
Riley slugged in the minors, and was red hot to start his MLB career. He has slowed down since, with a .242 average, a .798 OPS and 98 OPS+. He does have 17 homers and 45 RBIs in just 66 games, which is an impressive feat. We may not see Riley again until 2020. He is out indefinitely with a partial tear of the LCL in his knee.

             13: Luis Arraez, 2B, Minnesota Twins
Arraez has only played in 52 games, and has just two home runs and 15 RBIs, but he has been so impressive for the struggling Twins. He has a .350 batting average, with a .421 OBP, a .867 OPS and a 131 OPS+. His power numbers aren't good, and he may start to slump, but Arraez has been a big sleeper in the American League this year.

             12: Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
Hiura has only played in 55 games, but he has been amazing in them. He has hit 14 home runs, with 32 RBIs and seven stolen bases, plus a .299 batting average, a .955 OPS and a 141 OPS+. The lack of games played does hurt him a little bit.

             11: John Means, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
Means has been one of the very few bright spots on the lowly Orioles this year. He was their only all-star, and has lead their rotation with a 3.36 ERA in 101.2 innings. He also has a good 1.161 WHIP. Means came out of virtually nowhere, and has been the best story on his team.
 
             10: Chris Paddack, RHP, San Diego Padres
Paddack looked like a finalist for the rookie of the year award back in May, when he had a 1.93 ERA on May 20, but a minor league trip and some recent struggles have lowered his chances. He has a still impressive 3.26 ERA with 115 strikeouts in 110.1 innings with a .934 FIP.

              9: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
The top prospect in the MLB up until his call up, Guerrero Jr. has been smoking balls, hitting some of the hardest hit balls in all of baseball this year. He has a .276 average, 13 homers, 52 RBIs and a .812 OPS this year, while stealing the show at the home run derby. But, everything can't all be positives. Guerrero Jr. has a -10.5 DEF, which is the worst among all rookies.

               8: Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Verdugo was always a top prospect, but also had been blocked in the Dodgers system, and still was, even after the team traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp in the offseason. But an injury to AJ Pollock opened up a spot in center for Verdugo. In 106 games, he has a .294 average, with 12 homers, 44 RBIs and four stolen bases.
 
               7: Christian Walker, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Walker qualifies as a rookie, despite debuting with the Orioles in 2014. He has replaced Paul Goldschmidt at first, which was a tough task. Walker has a .263 average, with 20 home runs, 53 RBIs, seven stolen bases and a .829 OPS. There is no doubt that Walker hasn't been great.

               6: Brandon Lowe, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays
The other Lowe on the Rays, B.Lowe has been hurt since the all-star game with a right shin contusion. He was named to the all-star game, with a .276 average, 16 home runs and 49 RBIs, plus five stolen bases, and a .862 OPS. There is no doubt in my mind Lowe would hit 30 homers this year if not hurt, and maybe 100 RBIs too. The injury shouldn't deny how good Lowe has been. He should be activated very soon.

               5: Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta Braves
The top pitcher on this list, Soroka has been dominant all year, with a 10-2 record, a 2.32 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 128 innings. His season ERA has never been above 2.46. With Mike Foltynewicz and Dallas Keuchel struggling, Soroka has been monumental for the Braves at age 22.

               4: Bryan Reynolds
Reynolds has been the most underrated rookie this season, by far. Acquired for Andrew McCutchen, Reynolds has a .333 average, with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs, plus a .935 OPS and 143 OPS+. If the season ended today, Soroka would likely finish third in the National League in Rookie of the Year voting, but my pick would be Reynolds.

               HONORABLE MENTIONS
It is normal to do honorable mentions on a list before the number one spot. But the top three players are on another level then the previous players, so it seemed right to put them in now. These three players have been amazing this year, but it didn't seem right to put them on the list because of their limited games played.

               Will Smith, C, Los Angeles Dodgers
Smith has played in just 22 games this year, but has hit seven home runs in them, with 23 RBIs, a .313 average, a 1.106 OPS and 181 OPS+. With how good he's been, I'm surprised they didn't trade top catching prospect Keibert Ruiz at the deadline, potentially for closer Felipe Vazquez.

                Aristides Aquino, OF, Cincinnati Reds
"The Punisher" has played in just 11 games, but has given us both the most homers hit by a player in their first 10 MLB games, plus the best nickname in the league. He has hit eight home runs, though the previously mentioned record is seven. He has 16 RBIs, and a 1.617 OPS.

                Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
The son of former Rockie Dante Bichette, Bo has a .394 average with a 1.187 OPS, with four homers, eight RBIs and two stolen bases in just 15 games. He is the third member of the Blue Jays' young infield on this list (Danny Jansen and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are the others. Cavan Biggio and Rowdy Tellez didn't make the list).

                 3: Yordan Alvarez, DH, Houston Astros
Back to the regular list, Alvarez's 51 RBIs in his first 45 MLB games is an MLB record. He also has hit .355, with 17 home runs, a 201 OPS+ and a 1.164 OPS. He should be the runaway choice for AL Rookie of the Year.

                 2: Fernando Tatis, Jr., SS, San Diego Padres
Tatis really could be at the top of this list. The top player (who you all know by now) and Tatis will both battle for NL Rookie of the Year, and Tatis is a worthy selection. He is just 20, and has hit 22 home runs, with 53 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, a .315 average, a .591 slugging percentage and a .969 OPS. All of those numbers are impressive in general, but are even better when the player can't have a beer in the U.S.A.

                 1: Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets
Alonso will likely break Aaron Judge's rookie home run record, just two years later. With a month and a half remaining in the season, Alonso has hit 38 home runs, with 85 RBIs, a .258 average, a .955 OPS and a .592 slugging percentage. The close slugging percentage and OPS show how neck and neck Alonso and Tatis Jr. are.

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