MLB Rookie of the Year Update: Week 6
Welcome, everyone, back to my little play pen where I pick players to win a season-long award less than one-fifth of the way through the season. Is it frivolous? Probably. But is it fun? Oh, yeah, sure, you betcha!
The thing about this little shin-dig is that players are starting to have a statistically significant number of plate appearances and batters faced. The frivolity-o-meter is going down, and we can actually see some players establishing themselves as legit stars-in-the-making. The list below contains five rookies that are pumping out juicy stats and making my mouth foam a little bit. It's definitely nothing to worry about.
1. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
nERD: 2.64 | wOBA: .386 | WAR: 1.1 | Last Ranking: 5th
If you scroll down a bit, you'll see that Abreu actually has a lower nERD score than Masahiro Tanaka and Yordano Ventura. The reason I'm putting Abreu ahead of them here is because he is so disgustingly much better in nERD rankings than any other rookie hitter.
Monday, I wrote more in-depth about Abreu and what we should expect from him from here on out. The main takeaway was that, although Abreu isn't going to keep the pace he's on for the entire year, he's going to hit yackjob after yackjob. Based on my (incredibly rudimentary) method of projection based on his strikeout rate, flyball rate, and a possible home run to flyball ratio, Abreu could still be on pace for 44 home runs after accounting for some regression. That's stupid. This man's the real deal.
2. Masahiro Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees
nERD: 2.94 | FIP: 3.35 | WAR: 0.9 | Last Ranking: 1st
Yes, my man crush on Tanaka still exists. Even though his K/9 is starting to normalize a bit and he walked four batters two starts ago, Tanaka is still an absurd talent.
After a pair of Earthly stars, Tanaka's K/9 is at 10.76 with his BB/9 all the way up to *gasp* 1.27. If that's Tanaka post-regression, the Yankees should be jumping-out-of-their-loins excited.
The problem with Tanaka is the question of where he goes from here. On the one hand, Tanaka has an unsustainably high strand rate of 90.1 percent. That will go down, and with it, his ERA will go up. On the other hand, his 21.9 home run to flyball ratio is about twice the league average. That will go down and is the reason his xFIP (2.19) is so much lower than his basic FIP (3.35). It's a bit of a mystery, but what's not a mystery is that this dude is rull good.
3. Yordano Ventura, SP, Kansas City Royals
nERD: 2.86 | FIP: 2.58 | WAR: 1.2 | Last Ranking: 2nd
Let's all just take a moment to marvel at Ventura's rate stats: 10.25 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, 2.00 ERA, 2.56 FIP, 2.99 xFIP. That's so much fun. Soak it in, ladies and gents.
What's even better than this? Looking at the velocity on his stuff. Ventura can blow you away with a 96.7-mile-per-hour heat piece. He can rock you to sleep with a 82.5-mile-per-hour Uncle Charlie. Or he can send you into full baseball-Michael-Jordan mode and make you look silly with a 86.9 MPH change up. (As an aside, that link is the only clip I could find of Jordan playing baseball in Space Jam on YouTube. It's in Italian. The lip dubs are amazing). If you haven't watched Ventura yet, do it. Brudduh's a rock.
4. Collin McHugh, SP, Houston Astros
nERD: 2.64 | FIP: 1.53 | WAR: 0.9 | Last Ranking: Not Ranked
A new face to the numberFire Rookie of the Year rankings! Welcome to the club, Collin McHugh. We don't have jackets...or benefits...or any real tangible coolness at all. You're just kind of here. Make yourself at home, I guess.
McHugh has only tossed 19.1 innings so far this season, but they have been 19.1 innings of awesomeness. He has posted a 10.71 K/9, 1.86 BB/9 and a 1.51 FIP in his first three starts to give him a 0.9 WAR already. Not too bad, rook.
The problem with McHugh? He's in his age-27 season. In 26.0 innings at the major league level last year, he had a 10.04 ERA. In 21.1 innings with the Mets in 2012, he had a 7.59 ERA. He's basically Yangervis Solarte Part II. We can appreciate his very impressive start, but we have to keep the knowledge in the back of our heads that it most likely won't last.
5. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
nERD: 1.17 | wOBA: .339 | WAR: 0.5 | Last Ranking: Not Ranked
The drop-off from the top four to the fifth spot is pretty significant this week. That's not to take away from what Bogaerts has done, but rather a testament to how dope the others are.
Bogaerts has basically done what he has needed to for Boston this year: he's drawing a ton of walks and getting himself on base at an impressive .379 clip. The power isn't quite there yet, but what can you expect from a 21-year-old middle infielder?
The downside to Bogaerts is that his .367 BABIP is super high and will probably come down. He's hitting a bunch of line drives (23.8 line-drive percentage) which should keep it elevated above league average, but anything about the .330 range is probably a bit ambitious. Boston fans have to be happy with what they've gotten out of him so far, though
As always, this list is anything but definitive. Feel free to let us know who you're jiving with by sending a tweet to @numberFire. While this list may be frivolous for now, the stats these guys are putting up are not.