MLB Rookie of the Year Race Update: Week 10
With yesterday being National Jose Abreu Day, my faith in baseball has been restored, and I no longer hate everything. Woot. These rankings just wouldn't have been the same without this dude crushing tankers like he did Monday, so life's good, homies.
We've been tracking these rankings throughout the season based on numberFire's nERD metric. If you're new, nERD is the bomb diggity. For batters, it measures how many runs above average a player is if they were to record all 27 plate appearances in a game. So, if Troy Tulowitzki has a 5.59 nERD (he does, which is absurd), that means 27 Troy Tulowitzki's would score 5.59 more runs per game than your average major leaguer.
For pitchers, nERD is the number of runs below average that player would allow if they faced all 27 batters in a game. For Felix Hernandez, that number is 2.88, meaning he would allow 2.88 runs per game less than an average player if he were to face all 27 batters. To read more on nERD (and all the rest of numberFire's dope metrics), you can click here.
Below, I'll also include a hitter's weighted on-base average (wOBA), which is basically what OPS wishes it were by assigning weights to things such as a walk, a hit, a triple, etc., that are actually reflective of how important that event is to scoring runs. Wins above replacement (WAR) is a measure of how many wins a player is worth above a replacement player at his specific position. Fielding-independent pitching (FIP) is a measure of a pitcher's effectiveness based on the number of home runs, walks and hit batters he allows and the number of strikeouts he records. It has a lower rate of fluctuation than ERA, so it is generally a better predictor of forward-looking success. Sound good? Cool, let's get to it.
1. Masahiro Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees
nERD: 2.60 | FIP: 2.52 | WAR: 2.4 | Previous Ranking: 1
In his most recent start against the Minnesota Twins, Tanaka walked multiple batters in a game for only the third time in 11 starts. His walks-per-nine-innings rate is all the way up to 1.37 now, so start the panic alarms. He's now only sixth in the league in that category.
Over his last four starts (which includes his first loss in the big leagues), Tanaka has thrown 29.2 innings and allowed only four earned runs, giving him an ERA of 1.21. He hasn't allowed a home run since May 3rd. All of this has combined to give him a 2.06 ERA and a 2.52 FIP through his first 78.2 innings with the Yankees.
As you walk into the batter's box to face Masahiro Tanaka, you are more likely to strikeout than reach base. His 88 strikeouts this year are more than his base-runners allowed (77 total - 63 hits, 12 walks, 2 hit batters) by a pretty decent margin.
The problem with Tanaka is still what teams will start doing once they are seeing him a second time around. He has only faced one team twice this year. That was the Cubs, who defeated him the second time around after plating four runs (three earned) against Tanaka. If the Yankees keep their rotation as it currently is, two of Tanaka's next three starts will be against the Oakland A's, the top team in numberFire's Power Rankings. If he can make it through his next three starts smelling like a rose, then we'll know a lot more about just how filthy this guy is.
2. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
nERD: 2.12 | wOBA: .383 | WAR: 1.4 | Previous Ranking: 2
This is quickly shaping up to be a two-horse race between Abreu and Tanaka. With Monday's yack-job showing that Abreu's ankle-injury shouldn't have any lasting effects, the game's back on, y'all.
According to Elias (although I saw this in a tweet from @ESPNDatos, the Spanish version of ESPN Stats & Info, aka the greatest thing ever), Abreu's 16 home runs in his first 45 games is the most since Wally Joyner had the same total in 1986. Abreu is only the third player (with Wally Berger being the other) since 1900 to have 16 home runs in his first 45 games. Yet he's still not at the top of this list. This is such a fun season
Another fun aspect of Abreu is to look at the pitchers off of whom he has hit homers. Last night, it was the defending N.L. Cy Young Award Winner, Clayton Kershaw. Previously, he had taken 2012 A.L. Cy Young David Price and 2011 A.L. Cy Young Justin Verlander deep. He has hitten a homer off of every Cy Young Award winner since 2011 except for R.A. Dickey and Max Scherzer. Who's the projected pitcher when the Tigers face the White Sox on Thursday, June 12th? Max Scherzer.
3. Dellin Betances, RP, New York Yankees
nERD: 2.58 | FIP: 0.86 | WAR: 1.3 | Previous Ranking: 5
When I was originally making these rankings Monday night, I had Betances sitting in the five-hole. Then, as I was perusing numberFire's Player Power Rankings, I saw that Betances has the highest nERD of any reliever and the ninth-highest nERD of all pitchers in the league. This man is silly-good right now.
Betances has gone four consecutive appearances (5.1 innings) without allowing a hit and six appearances (8.1 innings) without allowing a run. He faced only one batter over the minimum over that span. This brought his ERA down to 1.38, his FIP to 0.87, and his WHIP to 0.074. There's so much beautiful grossness in there.
Over those same 8.1 innings, I'll let you guess how many strikeouts he had. If you said eight, you're too low. If you said 10, you're too low. If you said 13 (!!!), you're too low. He has recorded 14 strikeouts over that time compared to zero walks. Oh, and the part that made me change my drawers is that his strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate went down to 15.43. Oh. My. Lawd.
4. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
nERD: 2.10 | wOBA: .371 | WAR: 1.9 | Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
On May 21st, the Red Sox announced they had re-signed Stephen Drew. Bogaerts, who would obviously be completely unaffected by the team re-signing the dude whose place he took, has responded by spewing silly-sauce out of his bat ever since.
Starting with May 21st, Bogaerts is batting .382/.443/.618 over his last 13 games with 2 home runs, 11 runs scored and 8 runs driven in. He has seven multi-hit games in that span and has only not scored a run in three games. There's your response, Ben Cherington.
All of this is a bit mis-leading because it implies that Bogaerts's success is confined to being just after the team re-signed Drew. That is not true in the slightest. Over his last 24 games, he's batting .341/.406/.549 to bring his slash on the season to .300/.391/.443. His .371 wOBA is actually 34 points higher than Drew's .337 mark last year. Yeah, I think those two will be a'ight on the left side of Boston's infield.
5. George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
nERD: 1.64 | wOBA: .370 | WAR: 0.9 | Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Dude, what in the heck happened to George Springer. One minute, people are dropping him from their fantasy teams like he's Lew Ford, the next he's hitting mammo's left and right with total disregard for the feelings of opposing pitchers. Thankfully, my team (Rich Homie Braun) never gave up faith on this little hunk of sunshine, and the man is bringing the pain.
Okay, let's show you how ill young brudduh has been recently. Springer has only been held out of the hit column two times in the Astros' last 14 games. Over that span, he has 11 extra-base hits, 10 of which have come in the last 10 games. In his first 19 games, Springer had zero home runs; in the 22 games since, he has hit 10. He's the only rookie besides Abreu with double-digit home runs. Yes, all of this has earned him an invite to chill in my hot tub (mostly because Dee Gordon continues to refuse my advances).
With the way Springer's hitting, he could easily push Abreu and Bogaerts for the top spot among rookie position players. He just has to keep this disgusting run going to show that it's not just a flash in the bucket, which I'd highly doubt. There's a reason he had a wOBA above .400 in each of his minor league stops above low-A ball. Springer can stroke it, and he's threatening to turn this rookie race into a full-on dumpster fire of awesomeness.
There's our list, but there were some freaking talented dudes left off of here (lookin' at you, Yordano Ventura). So, how would you switch these rankings around? Let us know in the comment section below or by tweeting @numberFire with your thoughts. No matter what you think about this class, though, you've got to be jacked about how talented this batch is. God bless America.