ROOKIE RANKINGS: Carroll is a star, AL still searching for its ROY

August 4, 2023

While the top rookie in Major League Baseball this season cooled off a bit in July, hitting .250/.341/.474 with a 118 wRC+ for the month, he is still the clear cut National League Rookie of the Year favorite.

The American League, however, lacks a candidate that has pulled away from the rest of the group. As the season pushes into the end of July, new prospects have gotten their opportunity to debut over the last few months. 

With August just under way, here are the top 10 rookies this year up to this point. (Stats through July)

1. Corbin Carroll, CF — Arizona Diamondbacks

The rookie outfielder who was drafted No. 16 overall in the 2019 MLB draft, ranks fourth in the NL among position players with a  fWAR at 4.2 ranked only behind Ronald Acuna Jr., Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. Comparatively, the second-ranked NL rookie position player ranks No. 22 at 2.8.

Barring significant injury, it’s hard to see the gap being closed enough for Carroll to lose his grasp on being the NL Rookie of the Year.

Heck, he may get MVP votes, too.

2. Tanner Bibee, RHP — Cleveland Guardians

The Guardians traded Aaron Civale to the Rays and Bibee is likely a big part of why they felt comfortable doing so. The rookie in 16 starts and 89.2 IP is sporting a 3.11 ERA with a 3.72 FIP and is limiting the long ball to the tune of 0.90 HR per nine innings pitched.

Opponents are hitting just .216 off the slider he throws 27% of the time and the changeup is getting a whiff rate to the tune of 41.4%. Opponents are hitting just .236 off that pitch.

Bibee should be in the thick of the AL rookie of the year race.

3. Matt McLain, SS — Cincinnati Reds

McLain, 23, is the rookie shortstop in Cincy nobody is paying attention to, thanks to a teammate of his — we’ll get to him in a second. McLain is slashing .300/.372/.522 and is carrying a 135 wRC+ into the month of August. He is crushing lefties and righties alike and looks the part defensively.

If you’re late on the former UCLA star, welcome to the party, pal.

4. Francisco Alvarez, C — New York Mets

Alvarez continues to be an elite defensive catcher with big-time power. At just 21 years old, Alvarez has 20 home runs in just 272 plate appearances. He is having the best month of his young career in July, batting .275/.351/.673 in 77 PA’s with eight of his 20 home runs coming this month. 

5. Eury Perez, RHP — Miami Marlins

The 6-foot-8, 20-year-old sensation has made just 11 starts but has looked like an ace. The fastball has been hit around some but is averaging 97.6 mph and is in the 100th percentile in spin rate. The slider is elite, throwing it 30% of the time and getting at 42.4% whiff rate, and opponents are hitting just .194 off the pitch. Perez was fastracked to the majors, starting just 38 games in the minors and throwing 188.1 innings. There is still room for massive improvement. 

6. Gunnar Henderson, 3B — Baltimore Orioles

Fielding the hot corner isn’t a simple task in the majors, much less for a 22-year-old, but Henderson makes it look easy. To go with it, he’s hitting .242/.334/.471 with a .344 xwOBA, suggesting he’s been more than a bit unlucky after contact. He is striking out at above league average rate at 27.6%, but at 22 he has plenty of time to improve that number, and is walking 11.6% of the time to combat it.

7. Kodai Senga, RHP — New York Mets

Despite Senga being 30-years-old, he still qualifies here and is having a prolific first year in the big leagues after coming over from Japan. For the year, he holds a 3.17 ERA with a 3.79 FIP. In July? Four starts. 1.93 ERA, 3.06 FIP and yielded just two long balls.

The lauded forkball he is throwing 23% of the time is garnering a whiff rate of 58.6%, and batters can’t figure it out, hitting just .118 when he throws it. Senga ranked second in fWAR among all rookie starters in the majors at 1.8 entering August.

8. Andrew Abbott, LHP — Cincinnati Reds

The 24-year-old lefty out of the University of Virginia has had an outstanding first 10 starts to his career. In 61.2 innings he holds a 2.35 ERA and 3.90 FIP and is in the 77th percentile in K%, striking out just under 10 per nine innings. The fastball averages 92.8 mph but the sweeper is sitting 83 mph and has 11 inches of break.

Abbott has a chance to be a solid mid-rotation option for the Reds, a team that needs pitching to build on its young group of position players.

9. Hunter Brown, RHP — Houston Astros

Brown started off the year well, but since June 19 in seven starts he has been clobbered, sporting a 5.75 ERA, 4.58 FIP and is giving up almost two home runs per nine innings. The Wayne State product is still getting good results out of his curveball, where opponents have an expected batting average of .205 on a pitch he throws 25% of the time. But the fastball and slider are getting hit at a .277 clip, and the four-seamer is getting hit with some slug, too (.468).

10. Elly De La Cruz, SS/3B — Cincinnati Reds

The third Reds player in the top 10 is none other than Elly De La Cruz. He’s a walking, talking highlight reel, but the reviews come a little more mixed than the videos on social media might suggest.

The good: Elly is an above-average defender with prolific arm strength from shortstop or third base. He shows big power with seven home runs in 202 plate appearances, and despite some inefficiencies (see below) ended July with a 104 wRC+.

The bad: A lot of strikeouts (32.2 K%) and not enough walks (5.9%). What’s more, his whiff rate on breaking balls is nearly 40%. Something Elly is going to have to figure out to realize his star potential at the plate.

Honorable Mention

Yennier Cano, RHP — Baltimore Orioles
Esteury Ruiz, OF — Oakland Athletics
Anthony Volpe, SS — New York Yankees
Masataka Yoshida, OF — Boston Red Sox
Luke Raley, OF – Tampa Bay Rays
Blake Sabol, C/OF — San Francisco Giants
Spencer Steer, 3B — Cincinnati Reds

Watch Out For…

Jordan Walker, OF — St. Louis Cardinals
Brett Baty, 3B — New York Mets
Bobby Miller, RHP — Los Angeles Dodgers
Edouard Julien, 2B — Minnesota Twins
Maikel Garcia, 3B — Kansas City Royals
Casey Schmitt, SS/3B — San Francisco Giants
Patrick Bailey, C — San Francico Giants

Casey Bellon

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