MLB Rookie Rankings: Corbin Carroll the clear NL ROY favorite, AL wide open

Over the last month, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll has looked the part of a star. Not a future star, a present one.

The rookie batted .267/.379/.500 with a 136 wRC+ in May, which was essentially more of the same from the previous month from the 22-year-old.

Carroll, the club’s first-round pick in 2019, raced through the minors, reaching The Show after just 657 plate appearances, and despite an injury that cut short his 2021 season — which was set to be his first full year as a pro. That year, Carroll played just seven games due to a shoulder injury.

It’s not common for players drafted oit of high school to reach the majors inside of three years, and it’s less common for them to do so in under 700 plate appearances. That’s Bryce Harper territory. Even Mike Trout needed over 1,000 PAs before he was ready for the big time. Joey Votto, perhaps a future Hall of Famer, needed over 3,000.

That’s not to comp Carroll to Harper and Trout, or even Votto, but he’s a special talent with no true weaknesses in his game. His performance in 2023 is a growing sample of evidence.

Carroll sits atop the Rookie Rankings entering June.

1Corbin CarrollCFDiamondbacks

Carroll is hitting for average (.290), getting on base (.376) and hitting for power (.519 SLG, 9 HR), while adding speed (16 SB) and above-average defense at all three spots in the outfield.

The left-handed hitter is performing versus lefties (121 wRC+) as well as righties (149), and owns well above-average walk (10.9%) and strikeout (19.9%) rates

Carroll ranks No. 10 in all of baseball with a .734 slugging percentage versus four-seam and two-seam fastballs. He’s hitting .392 off them.

2Hunter BrownRHPAstros

Brown has stepped up huge for the Astros. throwing more strikes than ever, and doing so with a plus fastball (96.1 mph) and curveball. and a slider that’s helped him versus left-handed batters (.222 BAA).

Houston lost Justin Verlander to free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. has missed the season thus far, and the end of his IL stay in not yet in sight. The Astros probably need to add a starting pitcher, still, but without Brown stepping up to this level of impact they migth need two, and one of them of the frontline ilk.

3Josh Jung3BRangers

Jung had a very good April and a great May. The third baseman batted .318/.357/.561 in 26 games in May, hitting six more homers — up to 12 on the year now — and cut his strikeout rate from 32.4% to 24.3%.

The 25-year-old’s 151 wRC+ for the month ranked 15th in the American League, easily the top mark for rookies.

4Francisco AlvarezCMets

Alvarez has played in just 34 games, but has been as good as any catcher in baseball since the calendar turned to May (.292/.363/.667, 179 wRC+, 7 HR), and has been a key cog in the Mets’ turning the corner the last few weeks (9 of 13 to finish the month).

5Bryce MillerRHPMariners

Miller has made just six starts, but the first five was record-setting, and if he continues to command his plus-plus fastball the rest of the way and avoid the walk he’ll be among the American League favorites all year.

Early on, the league it batting just .165 off Miller’s four-seamer (95.1 mph), a high-spin pitch with carry through the hitting area. It’s nearly unhittable up in the zone.

Miller’s secondaries are still works-in-progress, but his changeup is underrated and there’s upside to both breaking balls.

Despite the limited opportunites, Miller is No. 3 among AL rookie pitchers in fWAR (1.3) and xERA (3.41), and is just scratching the surface.

6Masataka YoshidaOFRed Sox

For me, the spirit of the Rookie of the Year does not include 29-year-old long-time big-leaguers from Japan, but Yoshia is eligible, and is raking like no other rookie in the game right now.

Yoshida batted .354/.410/.552 in May (162 wRC+), showing a double-plus hit tool driven by ridiculous plate skills leading to high contact rates for the season (10.1% K), plenty of walks (9.7%), and power (.508 SLG, 7 HR).

He’s a below-average fielder and merely an average baserunner, and I do believe voters will favor the more traditional candidate, so Yoshida will have to leave no doubt to win it, and he’ll have to do it with his bat.

7Taj BradleyRHPRays

Bradley made three strong starts in April for the Rays, then was shopped back to Triple-A. He’s been back since May 18, striking out 19 batters in 14.2 innings of work.

Last time out, Bradley held the Chicago Cubs to an unearned run for 5.2 innings, walking just one batter and piling up eight strikeouts. He’s up to 34.4% strikeouts for the year, and has issued just five walks in 30 innings (4.1%).

If he stays up, he’s a factor in the AL ROY race.

8Yennier CanoRHPOrioles

Cano is the lone reliever here, but hes No. 2 in fWAR among all rookie pitchers (1.5) and sports a 30-1 K/BB ratio in 29 games.

Beyond that, he’s gone beyond one inning in nine of his 23 appearances, and right-handed batters have not figured him out at all (.094 BAA, 34.5% K).

It’s a three-pitch mix for Cano, starting with a nasty, 94-98 mph sinker running in on righties, a big-time hard changeup he turns over with no effort, and a slider he rarely throws but has generated 40% whiff for the year.

9Tanner BibeeOFGuardians

Bibee is the latest product of the Cleveland Pitching Factory. He pounds the strike zone with above-average raw stuff, including a mid-90s fastball and two distinct breakers.

He didn’t debut until April 26, but has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his six outings and most recently fanned nine St. Louis Cardinals over six innings, allowing a run on two hits and a walk. His work is cut out for him in the AL, but keep an eye on the former fifth-round pick.

10Logan AllenRHPGuardians

Allen doesn’t light up radar guns (90-94 mph), but he will throw a lot of strikes and keep hitters off his average velocity with an average slider and a plus changeup that misses bats (41% whiff).

Honorable Mention

James Outman, OF — Los Angeles Dodgers
Esteury Ruiz, OF — Oakland Athletics
Ryan Noda, 1B — Oakland Athletics
Kodai Senga, RHP — New York Mets
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
Matt McLain, SS — Cincinnati Reds
Eury Perez, RHP — Miami Marlins
Gunnar Henderson, 3B — Baltimore Orioles
Casey Schmitt, SS/3B — San Francisco Giants
Patrick Bailey, C — San Francico Giants

Jason A. Churchill
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