MLB Rookie of the Year Race Update: Week 26
In these, our penultimate rookie rankings, we can celebrate those teams that suck. Generally, the teams listed below haven't inspired a boat ton of enthusiasm over the last few months. Welcome to the world of a Twins fan.
Even though their teams are, for the most part, pushing daisies, the following stud-muffins have bucked the status quo of the rest of their teammates and made for some very watchable baseball. And bless them for that.
Now, it's our job to rank them based on numberFire's nERD stat. For hitters, that measures the number of runs they would score above or below an average player over the span of 27 at-bats. For a pitcher, it's the number of runs they would prevent in comparison to an average player. You can get more info on nERD in our glossary. With that, let's get it crackilating, y'all.
1. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
nERD: 3.61 | wOBA: .414 | WAR: 5.3 | Previous Ranking: 1
Seahawks over Broncos, XLVIII. The Spurs over the Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals. Jose Abreu over the mortals in this year's rookie race. Don't tell me this man is human.
Abreu isn't just the Rookie of the Year. He's one of the best rookies ever. Since 1960, only two rookies have ever had a higher wOBA than Abreu's .414 with a minimum of 500 plate appearances. One of them, Fred Lynn, won the MVP Award that year. The other is a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer: Albert Pujols. I don't care if you consider him a "real rookie" or not; that's other-worldly.
Among that same group, Abreu ranks third in slugging percentage as well behind Pujols and Mark McGwire. He's tied for sixth in home runs at 35, but could still conceivably finish second with four more bombs in the last few days. McGwire's mark of 52, though, is very much out of reach.
Even though the White Sox are vomit-worthy this season, they have built a solid nucleus of good, young players. They're going to make noise next year if they have a bullpen with an ERA south of ∞ (no guarantee on that one), and Abreu will be the centerpiece of it all.
2. Yordano Ventura, SP, Kansas City Royals
nERD: 1.69 | ERA: 3.19 | WAR: 2.6 | Previous Ranking: 2
Yordano Ventura's Royals are the only exception to the poopy teams rule on this list. They're a game out in the A.L. Central and have a two-game cushion for the second Wild Card spot, largely thanks to what Ventura has done this season.
For Ventura, the work is not yet done. He is scheduled to start two more games prior to the end of the regular season. One of those starts is the final game of the season, so if the Royals were to lock down a playoff spot, they could push him back to open up the post-season. No pressure, little homie! But it's certainly a task that Ventura would be up for.
On the season, Ventura has the third highest WAR of the starters on the Royals' staff behind James Shields and Jason Vargas. That should be enough to keep him in the rotation for a playoff series, but can you imagine how sick he'd be in the bullpen? If dude throws 98-mile-per-hour gas as a starter, he may hit 110 in relief. Turnt.
3. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
nERD: 1.68 | ERA: 3.98 | WAR: 2.2 | Previous Ranking: 3
New strategy for Jake Odorizzi: house arrest. Never let this man pitch outside of Tampa. It only leads to awful, ugly, regrettable things.
At home, Odorizzi is the best pitcher on this list. In 99.2 innings, Odorizzi has a 2.62 ERA and allows 0.36 home runs per nine innings. On the road, he goes full Exorcist mode to the tune of a 6.06 ERA while allowing 2.07 bombs per nine. Opponents hit just .194/.263/.279 with a .247 wOBA against him at Tropicana and .287/.354/.515 with a .379 wOBA on the road. That's the difference between Zack Cozart and Adrian Beltre.
Overall, this has been a successful rookie campaign for Odorizzi. If he can figure out a way to his fly-ball percentage (48.8 percent), his high-strikeout numbers will make him a complete stud. That would certainly help with the road woes, but brudduh needs to get his stuff together to be a consistent option outside of the Trop.
4. Collin McHugh, SP, Houston Astros
nERD: 1.56 | ERA: 2.73 | WAR: 3.3 | Previous Ranking: 4
There are three things that have made me question the higher baseball deities this year. The first was Jose Fernandez's injury (I still get night sweats about that). The second was Masahiro Tanaka going down for the time he was out. That was flat out cruel. The third is that Collin McHugh isn't on a contending team. With the way he's pitching right now, this man needs to be in the national spotlight.
Since August 1st, McHugh has made 10 starts. Usually, I consider wins to be a worthless stat because they are. But this absolutely blew me away, so I'll just throw it out there: McHugh is 7-0 in those starts. He plays for the Houston Astros. How has a Donny-Darko-esque wormhole not engulfed the entirety of Texas and catapulted it into oblivion?
This stat isn't as surprising when you look at the real stats McHugh has posted over this span. His 1.77 ERA whets your whistle while the 0.95 walks-per-nine pleases the palate. Can you imagine how much expose McHugh would be getting if he were on the Yankees during a pennant race? He would already have a monument and three separate clothing lines. Get this man a supporting cast, por favor.
5. Danny Santana, SS/CF, Minnesota Twins
nERD: 1.52 | wOBA: .362 | WAR: 2.7 | Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Hello, friend. Welcome back. I missed you.
To say that I have a crush on Danny Santana would be a slight understatement. I say only slight because I'd prefer if he didn't file for a restraining order. Fortunately, Santana's stats this year make this creepy adoration justified.
Among rookies with at least 200 plate appearances, Santana is second in batting average (behind Abreu), second in on-base percentage (behind Abreu), third in slugging percentage (behind Abreu and Santana's teammate, Kennys Vargas) and second in wOBA. I'll let you guess who he trails in that category. The fun part about this is that Santana weighs 95 pounds less than Abreu at his 160 mark. Abreu could bench press Santana one-armed with malaria. Baseball's awesome sometimes.
6. Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets
nERD: 1.47 | ERA: 2.63 | WAR: 3.1 | Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Usually, we only list five players on this countdown. However, with how ign'nt Jacob deGrom has been recently, it seemed cruel to not have him on the list. There also has not been a National League player here the entire year (huh???), so time to get young duder some dap.
The only reason deGrom hadn't been on this list previously was his late entrance into the rendezvous. But I think we've seen enough of him now to say that dude has the perfect combination of flow and filth.
deGrom's season-long numbers are good enough that I don't need to say "over his last X starts blah blah blah," but I will anyway. Since June 21st, a 15-start stretch, deGrom has a 1.90 ERA and a 1.96 FIP. He has averaged 9.97 strikeouts per nine over that span while inducing groundballs at a 49.4 percent clip. He is the prototype for a pitcher with sustainable dominance. Next year, deGrom plus Matt Harvey makes the Mets an intriguing team that could push for a Wild Card spot in the N.L.