True story: I had MLB Network on at the house as I was getting ready Thursday morning, and it showed another highlight of another great game by Blue Jays rookie Bo Bichette.
That sparked a thought, and that thought sparked a poll idea. Bichette, as you know, is just one of several famous sons succeeding in a big way in the majors this season. I wondered what baseball Twitter people thought of those three — Bichette, Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. — in terms of who would have the best career. So I put those three guys in a poll and added Pete Alonso because Twitter gives four options (but only four options, which is important to this story).
And then I drove to the office. By the time I’d gotten there, it seemed that most of Milwaukee was in an uproar, and fans in Houston and Pittsburgh and other places were perturbed, too. How in the world could I leave Keston Hiura, Yordan Alvarez, Bryan Reynolds and about a dozen rookies off that poll? Had I ever even watched baseball?
I tried to respond to the angries with the truth. Twitter only has four poll spots, I wasn’t saying these were the only four good rookies or even the four best rookies, etc. With the damage somewhat mitigated, I put up another poll, this time with Hiura, Alvarez, Reynolds and Eloy Jimenez. Thing is, even that one didn’t satiate the masses.
Still waiting for Oscar Mercado— Brian Baker (@Bizake13) August 8, 2019
Sheesh, right? But here’s the thing: The fact that so many fan bases can be agitated by a single Twitter poll about rookie baseballers speaks volumes about the quality of rookie baseballers this season.
Truth is, it’s pretty incredible, and I wasn’t the only one to have that moment of clarity.
Seriously though, you ain’t lying. 2019 really does have an absolutely stacked rookie class. Never realized how insanely deep it really is.— Tommy Malecki (@tmalecki15) August 8, 2019
We are watching a special season from the youngsters, folks.
With more than a month-and-a-half left in the season, Tatis and Alonso already have bWAR numbers of at least 4.0. Reynolds and Alex Verdugo are above 3.0. Alvarez, Brandon Lowe and Victor Robles are north of 2.0. Eleven more rookies have bWAR numbers of at least 1.0, again, with seven weeks remaining in the 2019 season.
Before we go any further, let’s look at the results of those two polls. Here’s the first one (Tatis was always leading, but the numbers were a little closer before San Diego fans got a hold of it in the evening hours on the West Coast).
Ten years from now, which standout 2019 rookie hitter will have had the best career?— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) August 8, 2019
And here’s the second poll.
Sheesh. Few things get baseball twitter people more upset that a perceived slight of their favorite rookie.— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) August 8, 2019
So here’s Poll No. 2: Ten years from now, which of these rookie hitters will have had a better career?
Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned the rookie pitchers. Mike Soroka has a 4.0 bWAR in Atlanta and John “Bright Spot” Means has a 3.5 bWAR in Baltimore. And then you have rookies like Chris Paddack, Spencer Turnbull, Zach Plesac, Zac Gallen, Cal Quantrill and, oh yeah, Marlins rookie Sandy Alcantarra made the NL All-Star team before struggling a bit.
But we’re just talking about the batters today.
We’ve mentioned Bichette, Guerrerro Jr., Tatis Jr., Alonso, Hiura, Verdugo, Alvarez, Reynolds, Jimenez, Lowe and Robles (and I can almost guarantee you somebody just got mad at the perceived slight in the order I listed these guys). The list of rookie hitters worth a mention is just as long, if not longer.
Here’s a quick rundown:
Oscar Mercado, Indians: Traded by St. Louis to Cleveland for two players still in the minors, Mercado has provided much-needed outfield offense in his 300 PAs, racking up nine homers, nine stolen bases, 47 runs scored, a 1.5 bWAR and .781 OPS.
Kevin Newman, Pirates: He’s played mostly shortstop and second base and been a consistent source of offense in 86 games, rolling up a .304 average, 10 stolen bases and 40 RBIs.
Christian Walker, Diamondbacks: OK, he technically qualifies because he hadn’t eclipsed rookie requirements heading into this season, even though this is the FIFTH year he’s worn a big-league uniform (his MLB debut was 2014!). All that aside, he’s been excellent, with 20 homers and an .829 OPS in his first real, extended shot in the bigs.
Mike Yastrzemski, Giants: Carl’s grandson has been great for the Giants, with 11 homers, 37 RBIs and an .815 OPS in 64 games.
Cavan Biggo, Blue Jays: Yep, another legacy big-leaguer. Craig’s son’s average isn’t great, but he has 10 homers and a .341 on-base percentage in 60 games.
Austin Riley, Braves: Atlanta fans clamored for his promotion for a long time, and he immediately rewarded that fandom, collecting nine homers and 25 RBIs in his first 18 MLB games. He’s slowed down since then, but he has 17 homers in the bigs.
Aristides Aquino, Reds: I know, I know. He JUST got called up, but he has three homers and eight RBIs in his first seven games, and he did this yesterday …
Just checked the top exit velocities for yesterday....— Daren Willman (@darenw) August 9, 2019
Aristides Aquino 👀👀👀 pic.twitter.com/1wHu6t4r5D
Luis Arraez, Twins: He’s the only batter in Minnesota not slugging home runs at a record pace, but he’s batting .353 in 190 PAs, which ain’t too shabby.
Will Smith, Dodgers: All the rookie catcher does, it seems, is slug clutch late-inning home runs to help the Dodgers win baseball games.
Michael Chavis, Red Sox: Here’s how good the other 2019 rookies are: A RED SOX ROOKIE has 18 homers already and you’ve probably only heard of him in passing.
Tommy Edman, Cardinals: He’s in a bit of a funk lately, but Edman had an .814 OPS through 29 games and had worked his way to the leadoff spot in the St. Louis order.
Nick Senzel, Reds: He’s had his ups and downs, but I feel pretty confident saying this: When we look back at the rookie class of 2019 in five or 10 years, Senzel will be much more prominently featured in the retrospective.
Nate Lowe, Rays: The other Lowe rookie on Tampa Bay’s roster (same spelling, different pronunciations), Nate has an .875 OPS in 30 games.