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2015 MLB Almanac: Rookie Position Players by the Numbers

MLB rookies


On Monday, Major League Baseball announced their American and National League Rookies of the Year. Many appear to not be surprised by the results. So the question at this point is, “how did these rookies break down from a statistical standpoint?”

For the answer, we utilize Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short), which evaluates players based solely on a few, select advanced statistics. The counting stats (i.e. home runs, RBI, etc.) do not tell us the complete story. Advance stats offer a better explanation to a player’s performance.

FUBAR evaluates players by the following criteria:

  1. Offensive Production
  2. Plate Discipline
  3. Base Running
  4. Fielding

A total of nine stats are used in this exercise. A points’ system is utilized to award players for ranking in the top 20 of each category. The higher the ranking, the more points are awarded.

FIELDING

FUBAR uses two stats to compute for defense: Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). For further explanation on both of these stats, please read our more detailed look on defense.

Chicago Cubs’ blue chip prospect, Addison Russell did a magnificent job playing two positions (second and shortstop) this season. There is no doubt Russell also helped the Cubs’ pitching staff by solidifying the middle infield positions and his range definitely robbed opposing hitters of would-be-base-hits.

When adding both his defensive metrics at second and short, Russell would finish second in DRS and first in UZR among all rookie position players.

For his efforts, Russell is awarded the Ultimate Defensive Rookie of the Year.

National League RepNick Ahmed, shortstop, Arizona Diamondbacks

American League RepRusney Castillo, outfielder, Boston Red Sox

HITTING

We use two stats to measure hitting prowess: Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA–basically, not all hits are created equal) and Isolated Power (ISO–a stat that measures power).

The Minnesota Twins’ Miguel Sano had been a highly anticipated prospect throughout his young career. However, excitement waned after it was announced he would require Tommy John surgery, ending his 2014 season before it can even begin. Nevertheless, 2015 proved that he was fully healthy and did not disappoint once the Twinkies called him up.

Sano finished first in wOBA and second in ISO among all qualified rookies (minimum 220 plate appearances). It’s no surprise that he ended up hitting 18 home runs and driving in 52 RBI in just 335 plate appearances. And despite the high strikeout rate, Sano would finish with a slash line of .269/.385/.530.

Sano is your 2015 Ultimate Hitting Rookie of the Year.

National League RepRandal Grichuk, outfielder, St. Louis Cardinals

American League RepCarlos Correa, shortstop, Houston Astros

PLATE DISCIPLINE

FUBAR uses three stats to measure discipline at the plate: Walk Percentage (BB%), Strikeout Percentage (K%), and Walk:Strikeout (BB:K), as we attempt to reward those players who have shown the ability to take walks and limit their strikeouts–even if we’re living in a world which yields high amounts of strikeouts.

A feel-good-story of the year was the Washington Nationals’ Clint Robinson. Riddled with injuries, the Nats required the services of the 30 year-old and former 25th round pick (2007 draft, 756th overall!) to fill spots in the outfield and at first base.

To his credit, Robinson took full advantage of his opportunities and his advanced approach should have been unsurprising as he has consistently hit the 10 percent Walk Rate mark since being called up to Double-A in 2010.

Robinson parlayed his great batting eye for a high on-base percentage (.358) and wOBA (.340).

For his well-crafted batting eye, Robinson gets recognized as the 2015 Most Disciplined Rookie of the Year.

National League RepJoc Pederson, outfielder, Los Angeles Dodgers

American League RepKetel Marte, shortstop, Seattle Mariners

BASE RUNNING

We use two stats to measure base running: Ultimate Base Running (UBR—a way to quantify the value of a player’s base running skills) and Weighted Stolen Base Runs (wSB–basically, how many runs did a player contribute by stealing runs). For a more detail look at these two stats, click here.

Matt Duffy of the San Francisco Giants is probably not the first player people think of when they ponder about this category. But to Duffy’s credit, he did steal 12 bases this season without getting caught. Of the base runners to steal 10 or more bases, Duffy is the only player to not get caught stealing.

Duffy also scored 77 runs, placing him third among all qualified rookies. You do not have to be fast to be considered a good, efficient base runner.

Because of his consistency and smarts on the base paths, Duffy is awarded the 2015 Ultimate Base Running Rookie of the Year.

National League RepKris Bryant, superstud, Chicago Cubs

American League RepDelino Deshields Jr., outfielder, Texas Rangers

BEST ALL-OFFENSIVE PLAYERS

Combining hitting, plate discipline, and base running, here are the top five best offensive rookies of 2015:

  1. Miguel Sano
  2. Kris Bryant–the Cubs’ prodigy lived up to all the hype bestowed upon him. The writers unanimously voted him the NL Rookie of the Year as his stats along with helping carry Chicago to a playoff appearance helped him win the official award.
  3. Carlos Correa–speaking of prodigies, Correa is one of the most entertaining players to watch. The writers voted him the AL Rookie of the Year as he helped the Houston Astros reach the postseason despite many baseball experts not giving the team a real chance in the offseason.
  4. Randal Grichuk–The Cards do-everything outfielder is one of the most underrated young players in baseball, but whenever St. Louis had to plug a hole in their lineup, Grichuk admirably filled in for the team and is a major reason as to why the Red Birds remained competitive despite the injuries.
  5. Kyle Schwarber–yet another Cubs’ player making this list of rookies, Schwarber’s at bats have become must-see television events. The powerful lefty has hit some legendary home runs of mammoth proportions in only his rookie season.

When accounting for defense, there’s really not much difference on the list above except that Grichuk is ranked third and Correa fourth.

Regardless, FUBAR likes Sano as the top rookie of 2015, with Kris Bryant justifying his unanimous vote in the National League. Meanwhile, there’s a bit of controversy as Correa took the rookie hardware despite ranking fourth in the overall rankings.

Here’s how the top 15 rookie standings of 2015 broke down:

  1. Miguel Sano–2210.00 points
  2. Kris Bryant–2065.00
  3. Randal Grichuk–1905.00
  4. Carlos Correa–1871.67
  5. Kyle Schwarber–1755.00
  6. Matt Duffy–1619.17
  7. Francisco Lindor–1470.00
  8. Maikel Franco–1376.67
  9. Devon Travis–1143.33
  10. Nick Ahmed–1130.00
  11. Delino Deshields Jr–1066.67
  12. Billy Burns–988.33
  13. Addison Russell–919.17
  14. Michael Taylor–887.50
  15. Clint Robinson–881.67

FINAL NOTES

  • The Washington Nationals have two rookies representing them in these rankings (Robinson and Taylor).
  • The Cubs have three of their top prospects make the top 15 rookies list (Bryant, Schwarber, and Russell).
  • Deshields Jr. impressed with his plate discipline, but just like his father, he is a speed burner on the base paths.
  • Four shortstops made the top 15 rookies of 2015.
  • A lot of these rookies were asked to play multiple positions for their teams in 2015. Even Kris Bryant, a third baseman, would be asked to play in center field on occasion.
  • Pirates’ Jung-ho Kang finished 21st in these rankings. The writers voted him as the third best rookie of 2015 in the NL.
  • Cuban import, Rusney Castillo, finished 20th.
  • The Cardinals’ other, highly-touted prospect, Stephen Piscotty, would finished 25th overall.
  • Home run derby darling, Joc Pederson finished a disappointing 17th after getting off to a torrid start to the 2015 campaign. With his combination of power and discipline, a bounce-back year in 2016 is almost imminent.

Featured Image Credit: By EricEnfermero (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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