2005 All-Rookie Team
Selected by the staff of Baseball America; Text by John Manuel
• Rookies Play Big Role In Penant Races
• Ryan Howard Clears His Own Path
• Gomes Is Pleasant Surprise In Tampa
• Huston Street Shows No Fear As Rookie Closer
While 2005 didn’t provide a monster rookie whose performance made history, such as Mark McGwire in 1987 or Mark Fidrych in 1976, this rookie class did provide amazing depth and variety. The Braves and Athletics were among the teams that relied on such players in the pennant race, while rookies like Jonny Gomes (Devil Rays) and J.J. Hardy and Rickie Weeks (Brewers) helped ignite second-half surges for their clubs. The depth and variety were such that we went two deep with our All-Rookie Team this year.
Catcher: Brian McCann, Braves
Johnny Estrada’s injury opened the door for McCann to jump from Double-A Mississippi to the big league club. He makes the first team with roommate Jeff Francoeur due to both his solid bat and his ability to handle the Braves’ pitching staff. When veteran John Smoltz makes a rookie his personal catcher, it’s a hint the rookie can catch.
SECOND TEAM: Ryan Doumit, Pirates
First Base: Ryan Howard, Phillies
Some dismissed Howard’s amazing 2004 season, when he hit 50 homers between three levels. Others thought it was immaterial because he was blocked by Jim Thome in Philadelphia. But in 2005, Howard hit more like Thome than Thome. Good luck to the Phillies figuring out what to do with a pair of true lefthanded sluggers both limited to first base.
SECOND TEAM Mike Jacobs, Mets
Second Base: Robinson Cano, Yankees
Even though most members of the organization thought Cano was ready for prime time, the Yankees still signed Tony Womack in the offseason to play second base. Cano helped jump-start the team when recalled in May, and while he played somewhat erratic defense, Cano led all rookies in doubles and batting, among those who qualified for the batting title.
SECOND TEAM Tadahito Iguchi, White Sox
Third Base: Garrett Atkins, Rockies
As former UCLA teammate Chase Utley flourished in Philadelphia, Atkins finally got his shot in Colorado after two seasons in Triple-A. As with most Rockies hitters, he was much better at Coors Field (.339 vs. .239 on the road). Still, he played solid defense at third and led all rookies (as well as the Rockies) in RBIs.
SECOND TEAM Wilson Betemit, Braves
Shortstop: J.J. Hardy, Brewers
While Rockies rookie Clint Barmes got off to a huge start, he stumbled in his return after a broken collarbone. Hardy, on the other hand, steadily improved after getting off to a horrendous start as he came back from a shoulder injury, and he's a better defender. Hardy batted .297 with eight homers after the all-star break to help the Brewers reach .500 for the first time since 1992.
SECOND TEAM Clint Barmes, Rockies
Outfield: Jeff Francoeur, Braves
Perhaps this year's most interesting rookie, Francoeur hit a three-run homer against the Cubs in his July 7 debut and stayed scorching hot for two months. He didn’t draw his first walk (Aug. 21 against the Padres) until he had already hit 10 home runs, and while he inevitably cooled off, his bat and defense (13 assists) helped the Braves to their 14th consecutive division title.
SECOND TEAM Ryan Church, Nationals
Outfield: Jonny Gomes, Devil Rays
An 18th-round draft pick in 2001, he batted just .266 in the minors and was 3-for-29 in the majors entering 2005. His stint in Mexico last winter helped him better recognize breaking balls, however, and his improved selectivity and brute power helped him tie Nick Swisher for most home runs by an American League rookie. His bat and swagger helped turn a club with a 28-61 record at the all-star break into a winning team (39-34) in the second half.
SECOND TEAM Ryan Langerhans, Braves
Outfield: Willy Taveras, Astros
Following Carlos Beltran isn’t an easy task for any player, not to mention a rookie jumping from Double-A. Taveras, acquired from the Indians before the 2004 season, handled both tasks. He played a dynamic center field, freeing Craig Biggio for a return to the infield, and led all rookies in hits and steals. He needs to walk more and improve his baserunning savvy to maximize his speed.
SECOND TEAM Nick Swisher, Athletics
Designated Hitter: Dan Johnson, Athletics
Johnson fits the profile for a first baseman—he hits for power and controls the strike zone. He walked nearly as often as he struck out while providing Oakland’s lineup with needed punch. While the A’s surge from a 17-32 start to the brink of the playoffs fell short, a full year of Johnson should provide even more of a jolt to next season’s lineup.
SECOND TEAM Rickie Weeks, Brewers
Starting Pitcher: Joe Blanton, Athletics
The second of Oakland’s two first-round picks in the overhyped “Moneyball” draft in 2002, Blanton was one of the American League’s best pitchers in the second half, with a 2.63 ERA in 15 starts. He handled lefthanded hitters (.226 average), and his overall ERA ranked 23rd in the major leagues and was tops among rookies who qualified for the ERA title.
SECOND TEAM Zach Duke, Pirates
Starting Pitcher: Gustavo Chacin, Blue Jays
After languishing in Double-A for parts of four seasons, Chacin broke out in 2004, winning 20 games including the Eastern League playoffs. He proved last season was no fluke with a consistent rookie effort, tying for first on the Jays in wins and ranking second innings pitched.
SECOND TEAM Jeff Francis, Rockies
Starting Pitcher: Scott Kazmir, Devil Rays
Kazmir’s season is about more than strikeouts, though he led all rookies in the category and ranked ninth among all big league starters with 8.42 per nine innings, edging Randy Johnson. Like Johnson in his younger days, Kazmir still struggles with command--his 100 walks led the majors--and like Johnson, he has electric stuff. Like Johnson, he should become an ace.
SECOND TEAM Felix Hernandez, Mariners
Starting Pitcher: Chris Young, Rangers
If Ameriquest Field in Arlington is the American League’s answer to Coors Field, don’t tell Young—he was equally solid at home (4.35 ERA) and on the road (4.17). The 6-foot-10 righthander and Dallas native put his basketball career firmly in his past by being the Rangers’ No. 2 starter behind Kenny Rogers.
SECOND TEAM Ervin Santana, Angels
Relief Pitcher: Huston Street, Athletics – Baseball America’s Rookie of the Year
The third A’s rookie to make the first team was the best one of all. While his father James Street was a college football and baseball hero in Texas, Huston has built his own story. The 2002 College World Series Most Outstanding Player earned the nod as Rookie of the Year in 2005 with numbers almost identical to those of Mariano Rivera.
SECOND TEAM Jesse Crain, Twins