New No. 1 leads Rookie Power Rankings

September 14th, 2020

Luis Robert and Kyle Lewis have been fixtures in MLB Pipeline’s Rookie Power Ranking series this season, so it’s only appropriate that the two outfielders remain in fierce competition for 2020 American League Rookie of the Year Award honors as the regular season winds down.

Jake Cronenworth seemingly faces less opposition in the National League and has moved into the No. 1 spot on this week’s Top 10, ending Lewis’ season-long reign atop the rankings. The arrivals and strong performances by Top 100 prospects Sixto Sánchez, Ian Anderson and Alec Bohm have thrust all three players into the Rookie Power Rankings for the first time this season, where they are joined by fellow newcomer Cristian Javier.

1. Jake Cronenworth, INF, Padres (graduated from Top 30)
Previous Rookie Power Ranking: 2
Cronenworth has been a staple in San Diego’s lineup this season thanks to his consistent left-handed bat and defensive versatility. The 26-year-old is batting .323/.385/.549 through 42 games and ranks third among all rookies in runs scored (24), hits (43) and total bases (73), as well as fourth in average even though he’s batted .219 (.618 OPS) in 11 games this month. Cronenworth’s defense at second base also has been excellent, as he respectively ranks fourth and sixth in the Majors in Outs Above Average (5) and Runs Prevented (4).

2. Luis Robert, OF, White Sox (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 3
Robert has cooled off offensively for the AL Central-leading White Sox during the final month of the regular season, slashing .135/.233/.216 in 10 September games. He’s still batting .259/.320/.519 on the season, though, and leads all rookies in home runs (11), total bases (82) and RBIs (28). But even when he’s not swinging the bat well, Robert’s defense has been a true separator for him compared to other rookies, as he leads the Major Leagues in Outs Above Average (7) and Runs Prevented (6), as well as Baseball Reference’s Defensive WAR (1.3)

3. Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 1
Much like Robert and Cronenworth, Lewis’ red-hot performance from July and August has slowed down to a .133/.229/.233 batting line in nine games this month. Of course, those recent struggles don’t detract from the totality of the 25-year-old outfielder’s overall production as a rookie, as he’s still batting .292/.383/.472 with vastly improved strikeout and walk rates this year after posting a .268/.293/.592 line over 18 games in 2019. He leads all rookies in hits (47), runs scored (33) and walks (25) and ranks second in both home runs (9) and RBIs (24).

4. Sixto Sánchez, RHP, Marlins (No. 1/MLB No. 22)
Previous RPR: NR
Sánchez has been every bit as advertised during the first month of his career, going 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 29/5 K/BB in 32 innings (five starts). He tossed a complete game against the Phillies on Sunday, limiting his former organization to one run on three hits over seven innings in Game 1 of a doubleheader. The 22-year-old righty picked up his fourth and final strikeout when he blew a 100.4 mph fastball by Alec Bohm for the first out in the seventh inning. That one pitch put Sánchez in elite company, as he became just the 11th starting pitcher since 2008 to record a strikeout on a 100-plus mph pitch in the seventh inning or later.

5. Devin Williams, RHP, Brewers (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 8

Williams’ changeup continues to be the best in the Majors, and a case can even be made that it is the best individual pitch in all of baseball this season. Hitters have gone 0-for-44 with 30 strikeouts and a 62.8 percent whiff rate against Williams’ changeup -- a pitch that features such an unprecedented combination of horizontal movement and high spin rate that it effectively operates like a screwball. The sheer dominance of the pitch, which the right-hander pairs with an explosive mid-to-upper-90s fastball, has enabled him to dominate to the tune of a 0.47 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, .078 BAA and 18.5 K/9 over 19 innings out of Milwaukee’s bullpen.

6. Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Dodgers (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 5

Gonsolin didn’t come with much fanfare when the Dodgers signed him for $2,500 as a ninth-round pick in 2016 following his senior year at St. Mary’s, but the former collegiate two-way player has quickly transformed himself into a valuable Major League starter and has been especially sharp for the Dodgers in 2020, posting a 1.57 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 28/6 K/BB in 28 2/3 innings over six outings (five starts).

7. Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves (No. 3/MLB No. 38)
Previous RPR: NR
The 2016 first-round pick (No. 3 overall) has been a revelation since he joined Atlanta’s rotation on Aug. 26, going 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA, .130 BAA and 27/10 K/BB across his first four starts. Anderson became the first Braves pitcher this season to complete seven innings when he fired seven scoreless frames of one-hit ball against the Nationals on Saturday. In the process, the 22-year-old righty also become the second pitcher in the last 120 years to give up one hit or fewer and complete at least six innings in two of his first four career appearances.

8. Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 6

May hasn’t missed as many bats as expected this season for a starter who currently ranks in the top 10 percent of the league in fastball velocity, fastball spin and curveball spin. But the 23-year-old right-hander has still been plenty effective, posting a 2.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP while completing at least five innings in five of nine starts.

9. Alec Bohm, 3B, Phillies (No. 1/MLB No. 28)
Previous RPR: NR
The former No. 3 overall pick (2018) is batting .330/.381/.500 with three homers, nine doubles and 19 RBIs through his first 30 games in the Majors and has been especially hot of late, batting .500 (1.395 OPS) with five extra-base hits during his current six-game hitting streak. The Phillies, meanwhile, have won 18 of 30 games with Bohm in the lineup since his debut on Aug. 13.

10. Cristian Javier, RHP, Astros (No. 4)
Previous RPR: NR
After pitching to mixed results in August, Javier, 23, has bounced back to post a 1.98 ERA and .130 BAA in 13 2/3 innings this month, appearing in two games as a starter and another in relief. For the season, the right-hander has worked to a 3.22 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and .173 BAA over 10 appearances (8 starts), during which he’s compiled a 42/16 K/BB in 44 2/3 frames.