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2018's Top MLB Rookies

July 26, 2018
 Let’s interrupt your focus on the MLB Trade Deadline to take a look at some players who probably aren’t going anywhere – the top rookies in the majors in 2018.

Using our Total Runs stat, which combines Runs Created, Defensive Runs Saved and Pitching Runs, along with an adjustment for position and playing time, the top two rookies in each league are Angels designated hitter/pitcher Shohei Ohtani and Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres in the American League, and Marlins outfielder and third baseman Brian Anderson and Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader in the National League (we’ll explain why some of the better-known players in the NL aren't in the top two in a moment).

Total Runs Leaders- Rookies
Brian Anderson Marlins 74
Harrison Bader Cardinals 52
Christian Villanueva Padres 49
Jack Flaherty Cardinals 45
Scott Kingery Phillies 44
Juan Soto Nationals 43
Jorge Alfaro Phillies 42
Lewis Brinson Marlins 41
Shohei Ohtani Angels 59
Gleyber Torres Yankees 53
Miguel Andujar Yankees 52
Isiah Kiner-Falefa Rangers 49
Joey Wendle Rays 47
Niko Goodrum Tigers 47
Ryan Yarbrough Rays 43
Max Stassi Astros 42

That Ohtani still leads despite missing nearly a month due to injury is a tribute to how amazing he’s been this season. His runs are split almost evenly between his hitting and his pitching, and he was on target to be a top player in the sport before missing time. Torres just returned from an injury as well. He’s made the Yankees better at the plate with an .896 OPS, and in the field with 2 Defensive Runs Saved and performed well in the Yankees' shifts.

Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar and Rangers utility man Isiah Kiner-Falefa have also put up strong numbers in their rookie campaigns. If Andujar wasn’t struggling so much defensively (-13 Defensive Runs Saved), he’d be right with Ohtani for the top spot.

Kiner-Falefa rates this high because of his defense. He has saved eight runs spread out over four positions (second base, shortstop, third base and catcher).

In the National League, the surprise is that Anderson holds the top spot by a considerable margin. Given a chance to play because of the Marlins' dearth of veterans, Anderson has shown versatility and skill. His season batting average has been at least .280 every day for the last two months. He’s saved four runs in right field and cost his team two at third base.

You’re probably wondering where Nationals outfielder Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Braves stand.

Soto, who didn't debut until late May, has 43 Totals Runs in 56 games, a pace similar to that of Anderson. The 19-year-old Soto has posted incredible offensive numbers (his OPS was over 1.000 at the end of June and currently stands at .950), impressing with both his power and his discipline. He’s been held back a little bit statistically by his defensive performance.

His work in the outfield has cost his team six runs so far. His inexperience has shown, as he has 16 Defensive Misplays & Errors compared to two Good Fielding Plays.

Acuña was hindered by missing a month due to a knee injury. He too is basically a match for Anderson on a Total Runs per game basis. Acuña has room to grow his 2018 slashline (currently .270/.333/.476). In his last 20 games, he’s hitting .304/.369/.553.

He’ll also have the benefit of being in a pennant race the next two months, during which time the drama of the Rookie of the Year race will certainly heighten.


COMMENTS (6 Comments, most recent shown first)

(sorry, the "not" is supposed to be "nor")
12:30 PM Jul 30th
He didn't put it that way at all, not indicate that as the basis for stating it that way.
As it is, it's one of the unfortunately many items that sometimes makes the field look like it has little idea what it's doing -- just presenting numbers without an understanding of what they mean or don't mean.
12:29 PM Jul 30th
It’s actually reasonable to separate in that way - and he called out why. Torres missed a lot of games (he has over 100 less PAs) yet has basically the same number of a cumulative stat as Andujar.
2:59 AM Jul 28th
I was just being a little kind by restraint, even realizing that it can't be real kind when I'm saying it's innumerate. :-)
11:56 AM Jul 27th
It's not all that minor a point. The error bars, which are cited in every form of statistically based science except sabermetrics, are large enough that even a difference of three Total Runs is dubious.

IMO Total Runs is flawed by adding together three different categories of runs that are incompatible with each other. If there is anybody besides John Dewan and his employees who doubts that DRS has serious scaling issues, it has escaped my attention. More to the point, what is the basis for believing that a Run Created is the same as a Pitching Run or a DRS?

Brian Anderson (now the third major leaguer of that name) is having a nice rookie season, but, looking at his Fangraphs page, I don't see what puts him so far ahead of the rest of the field in both leagues. Could Mark or somebody else provide a breakdown?
5:20 AM Jul 27th
Minor point, it's a bit innumerate to highlight two players at the start as the top ranking A.L. rookies when the third guy is 1 run behind the second guy.

That's a tie.
2:50 PM Jul 26th
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