MLB Rookie of the Year Race: Week 20
The further we get into this season, the more obvious the following becomes: Jose Abreu can hit a baseball farther than you. I know that may be shocking, but I'm starting to think it just may be a factual statement.
That doesn't make this tracking of the 2014 rookie class any less fun. There are some bonafide studs on the pitching side of things that at least promise to make things interesting. In our most recent rookie standings, there were four hurlers; this time, there are four. And, if the baseball gods have any more good graces left, they will let Abreu follow in teammate Adam Dunn's footsteps and bring that number up to five. If only.
In order to rank these diaper dandies, we'll use numberFire's nERD stat. For hitters, this is a measure of the number of runs above average that hitter would score if they were given 27 plate appearances. For a pitcher, it's the number of runs below average they would allow if they faced 27 batters. To read more on that, you can click here.
If you want to provide your own rankings, feel free to do so in the comments section below. There's plenty of room for debate with spots two through five, so let's get this puppy rumbling. But, for now, here's what numberFire has to say about this year's rookie class.
1. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
nERD: 3.29 | wOBA: .411 | WAR: 4.1 | Previous Ranking: 1
According to our nERD data, only six batters in all of baseball are better than Abreu right now. You might recognize these names: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Troy Tulowitzki, Michael Brantley, Giancarlo Stanton, and Jose Bautista. Do you think Abreu's in some good company, or nah?
He has kind of taking a dump on the dreams of all other rookie position players. The second-highest rookie hitter right now is my current main squeeze (I rotate this honor on a regular basis because I have a problem), Danny Santana, who currently has a 1.17 nERD. Abreu is only 2.81 times better than that. He got that swoon power, y'all.
Right now, Abreu leads the American League in two of the three triple crown categories. His batting average is still 32 points lower than Jose Altuve's. However, Abreu is hitting .353 since July. I'm not saying duder is going to end up pulling a Miguel Cabrera, but he's going to come a lot closer than your average first-year player.
2. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
nERD: 1.78 | ERA: 3.89 | WAR: 2.1 | Previous Ranking: 3
Y'all know how bonkers my man-crush on Masahiro Tanaka is. I'm not saying that my adoration of Jake Odorizzi and his saucy strikeouts-per-nine-innings is on that level yet, but, brudduh, the man is making a push.
Two starts ago, Odorizzi got pretty roughed up. He allowed five runs on eight hits through just three innings against the Angels. That could have been the death blow for homie's confidence. Instead, he went out and struck out nine guys in six innings while allowing only three hits Saturday. Sure, it was against the Cubs, but there is no room for your logic in this argument.
Over his last 11 starts (including the fuddy duddy against the Angels), Odorizzi has a 2.63 ERA, a 9.42 strikeouts-per-nine mark, and he has cut his walks-per-nine down to 2.77. If he can sustain what he has done this year, Odorizzi would easily become the biggest part of the James Shields/Wil Myers trade... and the biggest swoon-papa of my heart.
3. Masahiro Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees
nERD: 1.74 | ERA: 2.51 | WAR: 3.1 | Previous Ranking: 2
Yeah, still eternal sadness. But less eternal sadness! Our valiant hero and protagonist is now throwing long-toss!
He would have thrown longer than 90 feet, but Man-Ram is healthy now and felt the need to cut off Tanaka's throws. So I'm going to just assume Tanaka is playing coy with us all and ready to dominate y'all's cabezas sometime in the very near future. Sure, Brian Cashman is saying it won't be until September, but don't kill my vibe! Let the good delusions roll!
4. Yordano Ventura, SP, Kansas City Royals
nERD: 1.67 | ERA: 3.45 | WAR: 1.9 | Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Yordano Ventura has had a bit of an odd year to say the least. He was great in April (1.50 ERA), BLECH in May (5.60 ERA), better in June (2.90 ERA), wishy-washy in July (4.13 ERA), and now he has been all right in his first two starts of August (four runs in 12 innings).
The same has been true with his strikeout rates. If you exclude the 31 innings he threw in June, he's averaging 8.65 strikeouts per nine innings; in June, that was just 4.94. I really don't get it.
The thing about Ventura that I do get, though, is that brudduh can deal. In seven of his 21 starts, he has allowed less than two runs. He has had only two "blow-up" starts where he has allowed five or more earned runs, and one of those starts was due to an elbow problem. This has helped give the Royals the fourth-best starter's ERA in the A.L. behind only the Mariners, A's and Rays. Oh, and they're in first place after Ventura held those same A's to two runs over six innings last night. It's a fun year to be a Royals fan. I'm so glad I can type that sentence in August and not March for once.
5. Collin McHugh, SP, Houston Astros
nERD: 1.49 | ERA: 3.18 | WAR: 2.0 | Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
In his two starts this month, he has limited the Blue Jays and the Phillies to two runs on ten hits over 13.1 innings with 13 strikeouts to just one walk. The biggest part of that is definitely the one walk.
In McHugh's first 14 starts this season, he walked multiple batters 11 times. That included seven consecutive starts from May to July before he ended up on the disabled list with a finger issue. Since returning from the D.L., McHugh has made three starts and walked multiple batters in exactly zero of them. Tonight, McHugh gets the Josh-Willingham-less, Kendrys-Morales-less, Sam-Fuld-less Twins, so this baby's August should only get prettier as we go along.