By Theo Asher
When discussing MLB’s best rookies, it is impossible not to mention Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge. The stats say it best: the 6’7” behemoth is leading the American League in slugging percentage (.767), OPS (1.160), home runs (10), has a .301 batting average and is third in the AL with a WAR of 1.8. He has stood out not only statistically from the rest of baseball, but also physically. Beyond his imposing stature and brawn, Judge is crushing the baseball harder than anyone else possibly could. During the Yankees’ epic comeback from down 9-1 last Friday, Judge blasted a home run at 119.38 mph, the single hardest hit home run in the MLB Statcast era.
Most rookies play supporting roles at most on their teams. They do what they can to improve with the playing time they’re given while the main stars do their thing. Judge is so far ahead of that standard. With the way he is performing, and how impactful his play has been on the success of the Yankees, you would be hard-pressed not to say he is
attaining baseball stardom.
Even though Judge is dominating the rookie scene, don’t sleep on Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger. The minor league journeyman is leading the AL in on-base percentage (.436) and is second in WAR (2.0). If the Mariners can pick it up and Haniger can increase his power numbers, the race for AL rookie of the year will be more competitive than it is now.
By Ian Beck
This season, I would say the best Rookie so far has been Andrew Benintendi of the Boston Red Sox.
Having played a lot in the minors last season, Benintendi has been proving why he was drafted 7th overall in 2015. So far this year he has 30 hits in 90 at bats, which is stellar for a rookie.
Overall he has hit .313 in the majors with an on base percentage of .374. Benintendi is not only a great hitter, but also a tremendous fielder. In 206 innings of play this year, he has put out 45 of 47 runners, with no errors.
During the most recent series with the Cubs, Cubs manager Joe Maddon, the baseball guru, referred to Benintendi as “Freddy Lynn reincarnated.” This is high praise given that Lynn hit .331 with 47 doubles, seven triples and 21 home runs in 145 games in his rookie season and eventually won the AL MVP and Rookie the Year at just 23.
Benintendi has also been compared to Carl Yastrzemski, the Red Sox legend and Hall of Famer who is one of the greatest to play the outfield. These are all big names to compare to Benintendi, but so far he is
With a smooth swing and great outfielding skills Benintendi is making the Red Sox outfield the best young outfield by far
in the league.
Look for Benintendi to make a major push for the AL Rookie of the Year.
By Rob Nightingale
With the physical traits of someone who belongs in the NBA rather than the MLB, Aaron Judge, in his official rookie season, is off to a blistering start in the Bronx.
The 6’7”, 282-pound Judge has smashed ten home runs through 22 games to lead the AL in both homers and slugging percentage. The Yankees have benefited significantly from Judge’s batting and currently sit alongside the Baltimore Orioles atop the AL East. Judge appeared in 27 games last season for the Yankees, only hitting four home runs in 84 at bats, while recording a .179 batting average. Clearly Judge partook in some off-season training, as he is now crushing the ball at a .303 clip.
It will be interesting to see if Judge can maintain this level of batting throughout the remainder of the season. Twenty-two games is a tiny sample size for the Yankees right fielder and each year the MLB has numerous players who get scorching hot over the course of a month or two, only to disappear into oblivion.
With the injury to hitting monster Gary Sanchez, the Yankees have been extremely fortunate in Judge’s meteoric rise through the first month of the season.
If Judge maintains this pace, and the Yankees bring back a fully healthy Gary Sanchez, the Bronx Bombers’ offense will be nearly impossible to stop.
Judge has been the most impressive rookie so far this season, but there are a couple names to watch out for, primarily Boston’s Andrew Benintendi.
Look for Judge and Benintendi to duel it out in the AL East over the course of the season, with the strong likelihood of AL Rookie of the Year honors on the line.