MLB Rookie of the Year Update: Week 24

Four rookie starting pitchers have emerged as up-and-comers this year. Where do they slot in our rankings?

Roster expansion. It's the best of Major League's the worst of Major League Baseball. All these young pups making their debuts make for some great stories, but they also make for some atrocious baseball-viewing for those of us not lucky enough to root for a contender. For Exhibit A, you can click here. Warning: if you enjoy baseball and don't want to hate it forever and/or gouge out your eyeballs, do not click. Thanks.

Fortunately, not all rookies make you wretch at the site of their stats. There are those few, bright beacons of hope that make all the non-sense worth it. We have been tracking said glimmering stars the entire season using our nERD statistic. You can read more about nERD by clicking here, but it's basically runs above/below average if that player takes all at-bats or faces all batters in a given game. It's dope. And it's showing how yummy these select rooks are. Let's get to the list.

1. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox

nERD: 3.54 | wOBA: .413 | WAR: 4.9 | Previous Ranking: 1

Mike Trout. Andrew McCutchen. Jose Abreu. Those are the top three position players in terms of nERD this year. You think Abreu is good? Good is an insult at this point.

Abreu currently sits third in the league in isolated power, fifth in batting average, tenth in on-base percentage, first in slugging, first in wOBA, fourth in home runs. He's not the best rookie in the league; he's one of the best players in the league.

The strange thing about Abreu is how different his second half has been than his first. In the first half, Abreu hit .292/.342/.630 with 29 home runs; since then, he's hitting .376/.453/.533 with four home runs. Both are grotesque, but for very different reasons. It makes him hard to project when it comes to 2015, but either way, dude is going to eat.

2. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

nERD: 1.76 | ERA: 3.84 | WAR: 2.3 | Previous Ranking: 3

Two weeks ago when we released these rankings, Jake Odorizzi was coming off a dumpster fire of a start in which he allowed eight runs on 11 hits over four innings. I cried a little. Since then, it has been opposing batters that have done the crying.

Over 14.1 innings, Odorizzi has allowed seven base-runners. Not a gosh durn one of them has scored. Only four hits allowed compared to 10 strikeouts is usually a good ratio. These were the sixth and seventh starts this year in which Odorizzi has gone at least five innings and allowed zero earned runs. He has an additional four starts in which he allowed just one.

Odorizzi has found his success this year relying heavily on his change-up. He has gone to the change on 24.2 percent of his pitches this year, the seventh most among qualified starters in the league. This has made his fastball more effective, despite only clocking in at 90.2 miles per hour. His 6.0 fastball runs above average is 29th in the league, which isn't too shabby for a guy a hair above 90.

3. Yordano Ventura, SP, Kansas City Royals

nERD: 1.70 | ERA: 3.25 | WAR: 2.3 | Previous Ranking: 2

Yordano Ventura is just about as confusing as Odorizzi. Odorizzi has that low-90's fastball, but he strikes dude out at a 9.66-per-nine rate. Ventura averages a modest 97 miles per hour, but his strikeouts-per-nine rate is at 7.63. Because that makes sense.

Ventura, although he may not get all of the whiffs, does have all of the consistency. Take a look at the opponent batting lines against him over the last few months.


Uh, can we buy a base-runner, Pat? No? Okay. Not only that, but the .267 slugging percentage against in August is dripping with filth. Ventura is electric, a joy to watch, and he's only getting better.

4. Collin McHugh, SP, Houston Astros

nERD: 1.53 | ERA: 2.89 | WAR: 2.9 | Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

"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 ... 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."

Wow, what idiot wrote that? Bet he feels like a dumby and wishes he had administrative powers to delete that.

Obviously, that was me. I'm an idiot. You win, Collin McHugh. I bow down to thee. Granted, I wrote it on May 6th, and it really didn't seem likely that this would happen, he still proved me wrong.

If McHugh had a larger body of work, he may be right up there with Odorizzi and Ventura. He has six fewer starts than Odorizzi and four fewer than Ventura, but his rate stats are comparable across the board. If McHugh can sustain this into next year, he'll be a huge find for the Astros.

5. Masahiro Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees

nERD: 1.45 | ERA: 2.51 | WAR: 3.0 | Previous Ranking: 4

He is getting stronger. We can rebuild him. We can make him new again. We can let this dream live on!

In reality, it seems so ridiculously far-fetched that Tanaka could pitch again this year. Why risk the arm of your talented young pitcher if you have a 1.9 percent chance at making the playoffs?

As far as these rankings, Tanaka barely edged my homie Danny Santana and his 1.44 nERD. Next time around, either he or Matt Shoemaker should overtake Tanaka, thus ending my excuse to write about this stupidly good hurler.