Baseball America Rookie Of The Year Watch: Week 7
Below is the seventh edition of our weekly Rookie of the Year stock watch. Please note this is not a re-ranking of the BA Top 100 prospects or BA's preseason rookie rankings, but rather a snapshot of where the Rookie of the Year races stand at various points in time throughout the season.
All statistics are through Sept. 9.
1. Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners
The Kyle Lewis vs. Luis Robert debate continues, with neither clearly separating himself from the other. Robert looked like he was starting to pull away but summarily began swinging at everything last week and lost that advantage (see below). Lewis has fallen back to earth some as well, but he’s still managed to reach base in five straight games and 18 of his last 21 overall. At this point, Lewis has a 42-point edge over Robert in batting average (.307 to .265), a 70-point edge in on-base percentage (.399 to .329) and a 33-point edge in OPS (.896 to .866). Those gaps are simply too large to ignore and have Lewis back in the lead for AL Rookie of the Year.
2. Luis Robert, OF, White Sox
Robert continues to do spectacular things, but on the whole he’s slowing down as pitchers take advantage of his aggressiveness. Robert has hit .223 with a .289 on-base percentage and a 34% strikeout rate since Aug. 6. He’s made big impact on contact in that time (9 HR, .534 slugging percentage), but he’s not making contact consistently enough to sustain his hot stretches. Robert is in one of his down streaks right now, going 4-for-30 with 13 strikeouts in his last eight games.
3. Cristian Javier, RHP, Astros
Javier rebounded from a minor rough patch with three consecutive solid starts for the Astros and now ranks among the leaders in most rookie pitching categories. Javier has the lowest ERA (3.38), WHIP (0.98) and opponent’s average (.174) among AL rookie starters and ranks second in innings pitched (42.2) and third in strikeouts (37). Athletics lefthander Jesus Luzardo is hot on his heels, but Javier currently has an ERA more than half a run lower. He also has thrown at least 20 more innings than any of the AL’s rookie relief standouts, led by the Indians’ James Karinchak, the Rangers’ Jonathan Hernandez, the Royals’ Josh Staumont and the Rays’ Pete Fairbanks.
Ryan Mountcastle, OF, Orioles
The reigning Triple-A International League MVP mashed in the minors and has done the same since his major league debut on Aug. 21. Mountcastle has 23 hits in 17 games since coming up, including a 4-for-4 effort against the Mets on Wednesday, and is now batting .383/.441/.633. Already, he ranks in the top 10 among all AL rookies in hits (tied for seventh), runs (tied for eighth), home runs (tied for sixth) and RBIs (sixth) despite not making his debut until nearly a month into the season. He's even showing he can play the outfield, as well, after spending nearly his entire minor league career in the infield.
Willi Castro, SS, Tigers
Castro went 3-for-4 in his major league debut Aug. 12 and hasn’t stopped hitting. The 23-year-old shortstop has a hit in 13 of his last 14 games, including the Tigers’ only two hits in their 19-0 shellacking at the hands of the Brewers on Wednesday. The Tigers No. 9 prospect entering the year, Castro is batting .377/.397/.594 in 20 games since his callup and shows no signs of slowing down—he has multiple hits in four of his last five games.
The Padres Blended Analytics, Scouting To Acquire Two Key Contributors
The trades to acquire Trent Grisham and Jake Cronenworth were consummated in late November/early December, but the process began much earlier.
1. Jake Cronenworth, 2B, Padres
While the race between Lewis and Robert is drawing national attention in the AL, Cronenworth has outperformed both of them. Cronenworth slowed down some last week but still has the highest batting average (.323) and OPS (.930) of any qualified rookie in the major leagues, Lewis and Robert included. He leads all MLB rookies in both doubles (11) and triples (three) and continues to play standout defense whether the Padres put him at second base, first base or shortstop.
2. Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers
May hasn’t been particularly flashy since his early-season exploits against Manny Machado, but the 23-year-old righthander just keeps delivering quality outing after quality outing. May has allowed two earned runs or less in all eight of his starts this season. His 2.88 ERA remains the lowest among all rookie starters with at least 26 innings pitched.
3. Andres Gimenez, INF, Mets
Gimenez cooled off for a bit, but he’s rediscovered his hitting stroke for the Mets while continuing to play outstanding defense at both middle infield spots. The 22-year-old is riding a six-game hitting streak and hit the game-tying home run in the Mets’ comeback victory over the Orioles on Wednesday. His .292 batting average and .767 OPS are second behind only Cronenworth among NL rookies with at least 95 plate appearances, just ahead of Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm (.291, .762).
Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Dodgers
The Ross Stripling trade opened up a consistent rotation spot for Gonsolin, and the 26-year-old righthander is seizing it. Gonsolin has a 0.76 ERA through five starts and leads all qualified rookies in WHIP (0.72) and opponent average (.150). He’s only pitched 23.2 innings because the Dodgers kept moving him up and down from the alternate site camp, but now that he’s firmly in their rotation, he’s in position to get enough innings to push himself up into the top tier of NL rookies.
Tejay Antone, RHP, Reds
Antone has worked his way into the Reds starting rotation after a dominant showing in relief to begin the year. The 26-year-old righthander has a 2.49 ERA, has held opponents to a .151 average and ranks third among NL rookies with 33 strikeouts. Now that Antone is starting, he has a chance to stand out even more in the final weeks of the season and add to his gaudy numbers.