Being a rookie in Major League Baseball is alot different than any other sport. You’re called a “rookie” but you have been playing professionally for a few years, especially if you’re an international prospect, where the level of competition is even greater.
With that being said, it is still a different kind of animal when it comes to playing in the majors. Players are faster and stronger. Pitchers are much smarter.
This is why it is so impressive to see a guy like Mike Trout just dominate from the minute he stepped onto the field. He set the bar so high that now whenever a top prospect comes up, we expect that player to contribute in a big way…right away.
It does not always work that way.
Realistically, there are a few rookie standouts each year. This year, it seems to have doubled. Every week, it seems like some new top prospect is being called up to the majors, and we watch and analyze his every at-bat like he is Barry Bonds going for the home run record.
There is no “Rookies vs. Sophomores” game during the All-Star break like the NBA has, but there are enough rookies around the league to field an entire team, and be very competitive.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the nine-man team that I’ve selected. If you disagree with any of MY selections, feel free to comment your opinion below.
Pitcher – Chris Heston – San Francisco Giants
Like alot of positions, there were a couple of guys that I could have went with here, like for instance Los Angeles Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney, who currently has a 3-0 record with a 1.32 ERA, or Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Nathan Karns, who leads all rookies in strikeouts with 99, but I figured the safest pick was to go with the guy who leads all rookie pitchers in innings pitched (111 2/3), wins (9), complete games (2) and the only rookie with a no-hitter on his resume this season.
Catcher – James McCann – Detroit Tigers
McCann was thrust into more duty than even he was probably expecting, but with Alex Avila‘s injury, he was asked to step up. He has.
First baseman – Justin Bour – Miami Marlins
This was a toss-up. It could have gone either way between Bour or Oakland Athletics 1B/LF Mark Cahna.
Cahna had a great start to the season, most notably a great first six games, when he had a .367 batting average and 7 RBIs. For awhile, he was the only one at the position making any kind of noise.
Then came Bour. He’s getting a chance to play, and he will have even more RBI opportunities with Giancarlo Stanton out, and he has surpassed Cahna.
Although Cahna has more RBIs than Bour (33 to 28), Bour has had a hot streak to start July (1.053 OPS and 13 RBIs) and his hot streak is more impressive than Cahna’s April stretch.
Second baseman – Devon Travis – Toronto Blue Jays
Travis was an early rookie of the year candidate, when he posted a 1.018 OPS during April. A left shoulder injury and a .217 batting average during May and June set him back a little bit but the rookie wall is even more brutal than the normal mid-season slump. If his July batting average of .405 is any indication, I would say that he is just fine.
Third baseman – Kris Bryant – Chicago Cubs
This was maybe the hardest decision. But it was the easiest. If that makes sense. The position is crowded, but realistically it HAD to be Bryant.
The hype was, and still is there. I don’t think we have seen so much hype for a guy since Bryce Harper made his debut.
He has contributed in a big way. He currently leads all rookies in RBIs (51) and I believe he has an outside shot at 100. He is GOOD.
Shortstop – Carlos Correa – Houston Astros
I went with Correa because, who am I kidding? It was the hype. That is not all though, he has shown that he can play in this league for the surprising Astros, both with the bat and with the glove.
He has posted a very impressive .507 slugging percentage and he is only 20 years old.
Left fielder – Alex Guerrero – Los Angeles Dodgers
I wanted to do it differently than the MLB All-Star game, where they just take three outfielders, regardless of position, and just throw them in the outfield. I wanted to actually go BY position.
Technically, Guerrero is listed as a third baseman, but he has appeared in only nine games at third. Meanwhile, he’s made 28 appearances as a left fielder, so that’s the position I will put him in as. He is one of the SIX Dodgers with at least ten homers and he has driven in 30 runs. His .494 slugging percentage ranks fifth among rookies. He hasn’t been playing as much lately, because of the crowded Dodgers outfield (yes, again) and his numbers have suffered, as he is 0 for his last 15.
Center fielder – Joc Pederson – Los Angeles Dodgers
When you trade away your former franchise player (Matt Kemp) to make room for a prospect, the prospect BETTER be good. Pederson has been as good as advertised, although his .230 batting average will have to improve in the future. The power is there now though.
He became the first rookie since Albert Pujols in 2001 to reach 20 HR’s before July 1st.
Right fielder – Yasmany Tomas – Arizona Diamondbacks
Tomas has just been Mr. Consistent. Nothing too flashy and the hype was not as big as it was for other international prospects like Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes, but he has been great.
The D’Backs tried him at third base initially, but now they have him exclusively at right field. He’s posted an average of at least .300 every single month since joining the big league team in April. Like I said, Mr. Consistent.
As always, there are guys that were left off of the list. In sports, we call them “snubs”. It is hard to fit every single person onto one team/list so I just figured that I would take the liberty of showing some guys that I felt really deserved at least some sort of mention.
Billy Burns (OAK), Nick Ahmed (ARZ), Steven Souza Jr. (TB), Matt Duffy (SF), Lance McCullers (HOU), J.T. Realmuto (MIA), Nathan Karns (TB), Maikel Franco (PHI)
– Khristian Peel