Impact rookie ball players are always a fascinating part of any MLB season. A year ago, the Philadelphia Phillies began their rebuilding program by introducing 3rd baseman Maikel Franco for his first full campaign, and starting pitchers Aaron Nolaand Jerad Eickhoff as rookies on the mound.
A year ago there was a fascinating finish in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, with a near photo finish between a pair of talented shortstops with very different player profiles.
The award went to Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, who delivered a .279/.345/.512 slash line with 22 homers, 68 RBI, and 14 stolen bases in just 387 at-bats across 99 games following his call-up to the big leagues on June 8th.
The runner-up was Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor. He produced a .313/.353/..482 slash line with a dozen homers, 51 RBI, 50 runs scored, and a dozen stolen bases in 390 at-bats across the same 99 games following his own promotion on June 14th.
While Correa had more of an offensive profile and Lindor a top-notch defensive reputation, each proved to be a more than capable performer in all aspects of the game during their freshman campaigns.
Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sanobanged out 18 homers and drove in 52 runs with a .269/.385/.530 slash line over 279 at-bats in just 80 games.
He finished in third place a year ago. For the coming season, it’s a teammate of Sano who has been made our staff choice as the AL Rookie of the Year favorite.
Byron Buxton has been a known commodity for the last 3-4 years in baseball circles. He was considered the top prospect in the game by Baseball America and a number of other evaluation sources during both the 2014 and 2015 seasons, but his big league arrival has been derailed by a series of injuries.
While some of the lustre has come off the Buxton shine for some evaluators due to those injuries and a poor showing during his debut a year ago, the Twins center fielder remained among the top prospects on every list prior to this 2016 season.
Buxton came to the Majors twice last season, first making his debut on June 14th and staying up for most of June.
Returned to the minor leagues, he then came up for good on August 20th. He produced just a .209/.250/.326 slash line with 16 runs scored and two stolen bases over 138 plate appearances in 46 games.
The 22-year old only recorded 129 official at-bats with the Twins, one short of the MLB rookie eligibility limit.
Thanks to that single at-bat, Buxton remains an official candidate for the Rookie of the Year Award this season.
Our staff gave the talented 5-tooler half of our eight votes to become the cumulative favorite. However, four other players each received a single vote, and each has to be considered a legitimate candidate as well.
Those receiving votes included Texas Rangers slugging 3rd baseman/outfielder Joey Gallo, who is beginning the season in the minor leagues.
Also receiving votes and starting the year in the minors are Houston Astros 1st baseman A.J. Reed and Minnesota pitcher Jose Berrios.
A spring surprise who won a starting job in MLB and who has received the vote from our Ryan Gerstel was infielder/DH Tyler White of the Houston Astros.
The 25-year old White hit for a .325/.442/.496 slash line with 14 homers and 99 RBI in a 2015 season split between AA and AAA in the Astros’ minor league system.
White won a surprise role with one of the American League’s top teams with an outstanding spring in which he hit for a .353/.443/.588 slash line in the Grapefruit League, with three homers and a dozen RBI down in Florida.
If he keeps hitting like that, he will certainly keep his job and remain a contender for the rookie award.