The MLB Rookie Mid-Season All-Star Team
Today, chillens, we take a break from the usual Rookie of the Year Race Update column to look at these pups on a more macro level. It's time to unveil the 2014 Rookie All-Star Team.
In order to settle this score, we'll only be looking at each player's offensive stats (or pitching stats) because defense is for wussies. Not really, but these standings are based on numberFire's nERD stat, and that doesn't track defense. So, sorry, Billy Hamilton. You tried.
If you're new to numberFire, here's a crash course on what nERD is (outside of an accurate description of most of the numberFire authors). For a batter, it's a measure of the number of runs below or above average they would score if they recorded 27 plate appearances in a game compared to an average hitter. For a pitcher, it's the number of runs below or above average they would allow if they were to face 27 batters. In both cases, a positive number is good. If you want to read more, you can click here.
Another stat I'll be referencing is weighted on-base average (wOBA). It's similar to OPS in that it combines on-base percentage and slugging, but it does so in a way that reflects the expected number of runs scored associated with each event. I'll also talk about a pitcher's fielding-independent pitching (FIP). That measures a pitcher's effectiveness based on the number of home runs, walks and hit batters they allow and the strikeouts they record. Without further ado, let's crank this baby.
Robinson Chirinos, Texas Rangers
nERD: -0.33 | wOBA: .302 | WAR: 1.5
To say that the pickings were slim at catcher would be one of the largest understatements known to man-kind. Of the four catchers with at least 100 plate appearances, Josmil Pinto is the only one with a positive nERD. And he has been in the minor leagues since June 8th. Because of that, Chirinos gets the nod.
One big argument in favor of of Chirinos is the improvement he has shown over the last month and half. Since May 25th, he is slugging .539 with a .346 wOBA. The only problem? When the Rangers resume play on Friday, it'll be the two-month anniversary of Chirinos's last walk. He has gone 116 plate appearances without a base on balls, which is capping his value right now. But, considering the competition, he takes the cake here.
Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
nERD: 3.08 | wOBA: .409 | WAR: 3.2
Not only is Abreu the top first basemen, he's been the best rookie in all of baseball this year based on nERD. He has the 10th highest nERD of all position players this year and is one of only 12 batters above 3.00. He's all right.
If you are a degenerate that watched the entirety of the Home Run Derby last night, you saw a lot of bros that can slug baseballs a decent distance. Of those guys, Giancarlo Stanton has the highest home-run-to-fly-ball rate of 21.0 percent. Abreu beats all of them with a jaw-dropping 34.9 percent. George Springer is the only other big-leaguer above 24.0 percent (more on him later). Abreu's power is, simply put, gross, and he earned his spot on this list.
Tommy La Stella, Atlanta Braves
nERD: 0.24 | wOBA: .326 | WAR: 0.9
Unlike Chirinos, La Stella is a friend of the coveted fourth ball. He has used a 10.8 walk percentage and 11.4 strikeout percentage to compile a .371 on-base percentage on the season. The issue here is that he has only nine extra-base hits in 176 plate appearances, plopping his slugging percentage at .357. Usually when your slugging is lower than your on-base, something is not quite up to snuff. But, his slugging percentage has gotten better each month (.333 in May to .364 in July), so I'm cool with bumping with him here.
Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks
nERD: 0.75 | wOBA: .336 | WAR: 1.9
Technically, Danny Santana trumps Owings with his 0.78 nERD, but that's in 111 fewer plate appearances, so I made the executive decision to give Owings the hardware. Twins fans are going to start thinking that I have a vendetta against their players. My bee, doe.
Owings' biggest asset this year has been his propensity for extra bags. He has the fourth highest slugging percentage among all rookies with at least 200 plate appearances. He was just starting to really crank things up when he went down with a shoulder injury in late June. In the 18 games prior to the injury, he was hitting .339/.355/.678 with a .437 wOBA. The disabled list is a murderer of love.
Brock Holt, Boston Red Sox
nERD: 1.57 | wOBA: .366 | WAR: 2.2
Holt has played every position except pitcher and catcher this year, but he came up as a third baseman, so we'll slot him in here. Also, the rest of the competition at third is icky, so Holt is an obvious choice.
Holt has been a spectacular surprise for the Red Sox this year. His .366 wOBA trails only Mike Napoli for the team lead. He also ranks second among rookies with 200 plate appearances behind only Abreu in the stat. He has been a legit offensive threat this year, and I can't imagine many Red Sox fans expected to be saying that at the beginning of the season.
Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
nERD: 1.35 | wOBA: .398 | WAR: 2.8
I don't care if he has only 170 plate appearances or 1,700: Kiermaier is a bona fide stud. He and Abreu are the only two rooks with at least 100 plate appearances and a slugging percentage north of .500, and Kiermaier's at .576. He has had an extra-base hit in 12.9 percent of his plate appearances, which isn't too shabby.
Unfortunately for Kiermaier, he can't hit lefties. Like, at all. Only two of his 20 extra-base hits have come against south-paws. Against righties, he has a .442 wOBA; against lefties, that's at a sad-face-esque .260. Once he figures out how to hit those guys, though, look out. He'll be special then.
George Springer, Houston Astros
nERD: 1.23 | wOBA: .351 | WAR: 1.2
Springer trails only Abreu with 19 home runs among rookies. The only other guy with double digits is Mike Olt with 12. Since May 8th (the date of Springer's first dinger), Springer actually has more home runs than Abreu (19 to 17). Sure, Abreu spent 15 days on the DL in there, but let this stat live, brother.
Springer has been a true three-outcome guy this year. Of his 337 plate appearances, 50.1 percent have been either a walk, a strikeout or a home run. Sure, the strikeouts occupy a jolly good little portion of that (33.2 percent), but he does draw a lot of walks and hit a lot of bombs. Springer's an exciting guy to watch, and that'll only increase as he gains more experience.
Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
nERD: 0.55 | wOBA: .325 | WAR: 3.2
Just kidding, Billy! You made it! Gold stars and confetti for you!
If this list were to include defense, Hamilton would be even more solidly in. His 3.2 WAR is tied with Abreu for the highest total among rookies because Hamilton is pretty good at running down flyballs. Who knew speed helped you do that?
It's not all defense for Hamilton. The offense is improving quickly, too. The 38 steals are nice, but the man has been absolutely raking since the beginning of June. In his 173 plate appearances since then, he's hitting a tasty .321/.351/.512 with a .374 wOBA, 20 extra-base hits and 18 steals. Those are superb numbers. If he can pick up where he left off after the break, he is a lock for the N.L. Rookie of the Year award.
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
nERD: 2.20 | ERA: 2.51 | WAR: 3.2
I was going to make this section just a long string of sad faces, but not even that could quantify how heart-broken I am about Tanaka's injury. Sure, he may not need Tommy John yet, but the mere presence of that word makes me have violent flashbacks to losing my main boo, Jose Fernandez.
Before the injury, Tanaka was dirty-dealing a plate of icky sauce. He averaged 9.39 strikeouts and 1.32 walks per nine and didn't allow more than four earned runs in a start until July. His 27.5 percent whiff rate was second in the league behind only Tyson Ross. I really hope this guy is able to come back this year because he is unfathomably fun to watch.
nERD: 1.70 | ERA: 1.46 | WAR: 2.1
If there were an award for utter silliness on the mound, Betances would be the winner. On top of his 1.46 ERA, he has 13.66 strikeouts per nine innings. That's a bad, bad man.
In his 40 appearances this year, Betances has faced the minimum 18 times. He has allowed an earned run only eight times, and he has allowed multiple earned runs only once. In addition, he has only not had multiple strikeouts in nine of his appearances, and that includes three appearances in which he faced less than two batters. That's a decent year if you ask me.