From Strasburg to Santana, impact rookies arriving in majors
Before you go skipping ahead trying to find out where I ranked
As a result, I'm surprised by how little the Rookie of the Year rankings have changed over the past three weeks. Just one new name appears in the top five in each league, and seven of the returning eight rookies are in the same spots they were
In the National League, Strasburg, Marlins right fielder
Still, though the lists below are designed to project the winners, I couldn't quite bring myself to include Strasburg or Santana, who have appeared in five major league games between them, this week. Three weeks from now, however, we could see this "second wave" of 2010 rookies begin to dent these lists.
Feliz is the only American League rookie to open the 2010 season on a major league roster and perform at an All-Star level consistently since. On pace for 40 saves, Feliz is the clear favorite for the AL Rookie of the Year award thanks in large part to a dearth of serious competition. Feliz's poor stats from the last three weeks stem from a combination of lack of use and one bad outing on Saturday, when he allowed two hits and two runs while getting just one out against the Brewers. Prior to that, he had allowed just one run and six hits in his last 17 appearances.
Though I ranked Boesch third three weeks ago, I cautioned that his walk rate was alarmingly low and suggested that the league would soon figure him out. Well, it seems Boesch might be smarter than the collected pitchers of the American League, as rather than letting his walk rate drag him down, he has brought his walk rate up and just kept on hitting. Boesch had just two unintentional walks in 98 plate appearances three weeks ago. Since then, he's drawn seven more walks in just 66 plate appearances, or one every 9.4 PA. Small sample warnings apply, and the overall result is a major league walk rate that's still poor and only a hair better than his minor league rate (majors: 18.2 PA/UIBB, minors: 19.4 PA/UIBB), but 41 games into his major league career, Boesch has shown no sign of slowing down and has drawn right up behind Feliz, whom he could ultimately pass if he keeps up his current pace as he has an outside shot at 30 home runs and 100 RBIs despite not making his debut until April 23.
Cleveland starter Talbot just missed making my initial list three weeks ago. Per the second stat line above, he has pitched better since then, but what tripped me up at the time were his miserable peripherals. Talbot actually had four more walks than strikeouts three weeks ago and the Indians had scored an average of 7.6 runs per game in his five wins, but three more strong starts, one coming against a powerful Yankees team, and the retreat of his competition has him comfortably mid-list this week.
The 26-year-old Talbot has had quite a journey to this point. Drafted out of high school by the Astros in 2002, he was flipped to the then-Devil Rays along with
Season Stats: .308/.352/.412, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 10 SB, 13.3 VORP
Last Three Weeks: .240/.250/.320, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 4 SB
Jackson has recovered from his frightening beaning on May 22, but he has not recovered from the slump that preceded that beaning by 12 days. Since May 10, a stretch of 124 plate appearances, Jackson has hit just .237/.274/.305. He is here purely on the strength of his performance through May 9, when he was hitting .371/.420/.508 after 143 PA. Even then, his league-leading strikeout total seemed worrisome, and though he's now three off the league lead, his high strikeout rate (now 67 in 60 games, a 179 K place) seems to be all that remains from his hot start. With Santana and company on the rise, Jackson, who left Sunday's game with lower back spasms, could be off the list three weeks from now.
Converted infielder Santos was something of a placeholder three weeks ago and, despite some struggles in the interim, remains in that role again this week. He's here more because of the disappointing showings from Orioles left-hander
Heyward hit a home run in his first major league at-bat and was hitting .298/.411/.617 two weeks into the season. He then fell into a nasty 1-for-20 slump that dropped his season line to .224/.358/.448, but that only lasted a week. From April 29 through May 30, Heyward hit .360/.468/.708 despite missing time due to groin and thumb injuries. Now he's slumping again. From May 31 to June 7, he went 3-for-32 with 12 strikeouts and no extra-base hits in eight games. He's perked up a bit since then, going 7-for-27 (.259) with just a pair of doubles among those hits and 10 more strikeouts in six games, giving him 20 Ks in his last 10 contests. Is that left thumb, which he hurt sliding on May 14, still bothering him, as his hitting coach claimed it was last week? Is he still banged up from his outfield collision with
Garcia fell off the
Last Three Weeks: 1-0, 2.19 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 4.7 K/9, 1.63 K/BB
Leake's first legitimately poor outing, which came last Thursday, broke a streak of eight quality starts during which the Reds' righty went 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA and 3.08 K/BB. Like Garcia, Leake has made 10 quality starts in twelve attempts, the difference being that Leake has allowed 10 runs and four homers in his two non-quality outings, while Garcia simply fell three outs short of the innings requirement each time. Leake's dud on Thursday marked the first time he failed to finish six innings in a major league start and was just the second start this season in which he allowed more than three runs, earned or otherwise. This from a 2009 first-round draft pick who has never appeared in a minor league game. Take that, Strasburg.
Sanchez takes the spot of fellow NL East first baseman
Freese has started just one game since June 5 due a fluke right ankle sprain that he suffered when making incidental contact with third base during a play elsewhere on the infield, but that lack of opportunity to lose this spot (he has made just 11 starts in the last three weeks) has resulted in his keeping it for one more turn through the awards. Freese has avoided the disabled list thus far, but he'll have to return to the lineup soon and successfully in order to keep Strasburg, Stanton, et al. at bay.