2019 MLB All-Rookie Team
With each passing year, another rookie record falls.
In 2019, it was Pete Alonso’s turn.
The Mets' first baseman hit a rookie-record 53 home runs to lead another banner season for rookies. Alonso shined brightest in a season where baseball’s top three prospects—Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eloy Jimenez—debuted and showed flashes of why they are considered future franchise players.
In addition to Alonso’s record-setting season, Will Smith tied a rookie record for most home runs to start a career, Bryan Reynolds made a run at becoming the first National League rookie to even win a batting title and Yordan Alvarez broke Albert Pujols’ record for most RBIs in the first 30 games of a player’s career.
Rookies stood out at every position across the diamond, pushing many worthy players off the All-Rookie team. Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman, Nationals outfielder Victor Robles, D-backs first baseman Christian Walker and Indians outfielder Oscar Mercado all made big impacts for their respective teams but were pushed off by the sheer depth of this year’s rookie class.
Players must be eligible for the American and National League Rookie of the Year awards to make the All-Rookie team.
C Will Smith, Dodgers
The latest of the Dodgers’ impact rookies, Smith made his major league debut in late May and took over as primary catcher by the end of July. The 2016 first-round pick from Louisville tied Rhys Hoskins' major league record with 12 home runs in his first 28 games and finished the season with 15 homers and a .571 slugging percentage, both highest among rookie catchers. Behind the plate, Smith allowed just two passed balls in 46 games and graded above-average in various pitch-framing metrics, living up to his reputation as a potentially premium defensive catcher.
1B Pete Alonso, Mets
Alonso hit a rookie-record 53 home runs in a mesmerizing season, surpassing Aaron Judge’s previous record of 52 and leading the majors. The 2016 first-rounder from Florida also led the National League with 85 extra-base hits, just shy of the rookie record of 89 set by Hal Trosky in 1934. Overall, Alonso finished in the top 10 in the National League in total bases (second), RBIs (third), slugging percentage (sixth), OPS (seventh) and runs (ninth), in addition to leading in homers and extra-base hits, guiding the Mets to their first winning season in three years and posting one of the loudest rookie seasons of all time.
2B Keston Hiura, Brewers
Hiura debuted in May and became the Brewers’ starting second baseman by the All-Star break. The 2017 first-rounder from UC Irvine spent more than two months of the season in the minors and missed two weeks late in the year with a hamstring strain, but he still led all rookie second basemen with 23 doubles and 19 home runs. Long lauded for his bat, Hiura delivered a .938 OPS that ranked fourth among rookies who played at least 81 games, trailing only Pete Alonso, Yordan Alvarez and Fernando Tatis Jr.
3B Tommy Edman, Cardinals
Productive but unheralded throughout his career, Edman debuted in mid-June and became the Cardinals’ primary third baseman by the end of the month. The 2016 sixth-rounder out of Stanford proved to be a spark plug and table-setter at the top of St. Louis’ lineup, batting .304 with an .850 OPS—seventh highest among rookies who played at least 81 games—while hitting mostly in either the No. 1 or 2 spots in the order. He also stole 15 bases in 16 attempts. Edman’s mix of contact, basestealing acumen and surprising power earned him the bulk of the starts at third base ahead of Matt Carpenter after his callup, but he also capably played second base and right field and appeared in center field and left field, as well.
SS Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
Tatis’ season was limited by a hamstring strain that knocked him out for five weeks and a stress reaction in his back that ended his season in August, but he thrilled when he was healthy. Tatis finished with 22 home runs and 16 stolen bases despite playing just 84 games, and his feats of baserunning and defense became a nightly staple of highlight reels. Consistent as well as flashy, Tatis’ .317 batting average and .969 OPS were both second highest among rookies who played at least half of the season.
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox
Jimenez went on the injured list twice and still hit 31 home runs, second most among rookies behind only Pete Alonso. The bruising, powerful 22-year-old showed what he was really capable of unencumbered by injuries. From July on, he hit. 284/.327/.541. Expect more offensive fireworks from Jimenez in the future. According to MLB Statcast data, he ranked top 30 in the majors in hard-hit rate and average exit velocity on fly balls.
OF Bryan Reynolds, Pirates
Reynolds opened his career with an 11-game hitting streak and never stopped, making a run at becoming the first National League rookie to ever win a batting title before coming up short in the season’s final month. He settled for finishing in the top 10 in the league in both batting average (.314) and doubles (37) and finished just outside the top 10 in on-base percentage (.377). The 2016 second-rounder from Vanderbilt also displayed valuable defensive versatility, playing all three outfield spots for the Pirates.
OF Yordan Alvarez, Astros
Alvarez homered in his major league debut on June 9, a harbinger of the destruction he was about to inflict on the American League. The 22-year-old hit .314 with 27 home runs and 78 RBIs in just 87 games—the third-most home runs by a rookie—and his 1.067 OPS ranked fifth in the majors from the date of his debut. Primarily a DH, Alvarez saw time in left field as well, but it was his bat that defined him regardless of position.
DH Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
The No. 1 prospect entering the year made his long-awaited debut on April 26 and hit a double in the top of the ninth inning to put the eventual winning run in scoring position. While a 6-for-41 start weighed down his overall numbers, Vlad Jr. was still one of just five rookies this season with at least 125 hits and 15 home runs, and he was the youngest of them to do it at only 20 years old.
Fantasy: A Dozen Late Surgers You Might Have Missed
Targeting these hitters and pitchers who excelled in August and September could make you look smart in 2020.
SP Mike Soroka, Braves
After a shoulder injury cut short his debut season a year ago, Soroka got another try as a rookie in 2019 and emerged as one of the majors’ top starters the year he turned 22. Soroka’s 2.68 ERA led all rookies and ranked fifth in the major leagues, and he did it while holding up over 174.2 innings, tied for third most among rookies. He proved especially adept at keeping the ball in the park. His home run rate of 0.72 per nine innings was second lowest in the majors.
SP Dakota Hudson, Cardinals
Hudson got off to an inauspicious start, then surged to give the Cardinals a second young ace to pair with Jack Flaherty. After posting a 5.79 ERA in his first five starts, the 2016 first-rounder from Mississippi State logged a 2.99 ERA the rest of the way to help the Cardinals win their first division title since 2015. While the sinker-baller missed a below-average number of bats and led the majors with 86 walks, he proved extremely difficult to square up. Hudson limited batters to a .230/.327/.368 slash line from May through the end of the season, and his 56.9 percent ground ball rate was the highest in the major leagues.
SP Chris Paddack, Padres
Paddack jumped straight from Double-A to the Padres’ Opening Day roster and experienced both highs and lows in his rookie season. The 2015 eighth-rounder got off to a brilliant start (1.93 ERA in his first nine starts), struggled through a rocky middle (5.32 ERA in his next 13 starts) and rebounded for a strong finish (0.77 ERA in his final four starts). Altogether, Paddack ranked second among rookie starters (min. 100 IP) with a 3.33 ERA and 153 strikeouts, solidifying himself as a key component of the Padres’ rebuild.
SP John Means, Orioles
Means emerged from relative obscurity to become a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for the Orioles. The 2014 11th-rounder from West Virginia remade himself during offseason workouts and came back with a few extra ticks of fastball velocity and a devastating changeup that placed third best in the American League in Best Tools balloting. As a result, he ranked fourth among rookie starters (min. 100 innings) in wins (12) and ERA (3.60) and was Baltimore’s lone All-Star Game representative.
SP Sandy Alcantara, Marlins
Alcantara got little run support but emerged as a workhorse the rebuilding Marlins could count on. The 24-year-old led all rookies with 197.1 innings and was one of just three pitchers in the majors to throw two complete game shutouts this season, along with Lucas Giolito and Shane Bieber. Alcantara finished with a 3.88 ERA, seventh among rookies with at least 100 innings, and earned his first All-Star selection.
RP Nick Anderson, Marlins/Rays
A product of NAIA Mayville in North Dakota who pitched three seasons of independent ball, Anderson emerged as an unlikely relief ace this year with the Marlins and then the Rays after a midseason trade. The 28-year-old righthander struck out 41.7 percent of the batters he faced this season, second highest in the majors behind only Josh Hader among pitchers who threw at least 60 innings. He was at his best in the heat of the pennant race. After joining the Rays at the trade deadline, he struck out 41 of the 78 batters he faced.