Welcome to the July edition of MLB Pipeline’s Rookie Hot List. The Hot List is our monthly look at the rookies on a roll around the Major Leagues, and there are quite a few new names on a roll this month.
One friendly reminder from us to you: as always, this list is not about the best prospect. It’s not about the rookie having the best season or who’s going to win Rookie of the Year. Those factors can be tiebreakers when it’s very close, but the rankings here are based purely on performance over the past 30 days (stats are through Monday’s games).
There’s something of a bias toward playing time, so a player with twice as many at-bats or innings (or appearances, for a reliever) will get the nod over one with a slightly better slugging percentage or ERA in fewer opportunities. And there can be something of a bias toward defensive value among hitters. But really, it’s about who’s hot.
Honorable mentions for July include: Spencer Steer, J.P. France, Francisco Alvarez, Triston Casas and Edouard Julien.
On with the list!
1. Masataka Yoshida, OF, Red Sox (previous rank: 5)
Yoshida has been steadily effective for much of the season, but his recent streak pushes him to the top of the list. He’s at .333/.364/.548 over the past 30 days, with across the board numbers: four homers, 14 RBIs, 16 runs scored. And it doesn’t hurt his cause that he’s been especially torrid in the past three weeks as the Red Sox have surged into contention.
2. Kodai Senga, RHP, Mets (previous rank: 8)
Here’s another player who’s been on the list before, but not quite so high in the rankings. Senga may finally be reining in the walks, so perhaps it’s no coincidence that he’s given up two earned runs or fewer in four straight starts. He has 35 K's against eight walks over that time with a 2.22 ERA. The Mets have some concerns in their rotation, but Senga is not one of them.
3. Elly De La Cruz, 3B/SS, Reds (previously unranked)
If we meant “hot” in just a slightly different sense, than De La Cruz would obviously lead the list. His Q Rating is unmatched by just about anybody in baseball these days, or at least any mere mortal who is limited to hitting or pitching but not both. As it is, he still ranks pretty highly thanks to his .304/.314/.480 line, his 19 runs scored and his 10 steals in 12 attempts, all within the last 30 days.
4. Tanner Bibee, RHP, Guardians (previously unranked)
These next two names could probably just have been listed as a tie. Bibee has one more out over the same number of starts and a few more strikeouts (though also a few more walks). They both rank behind Senga due to fewer innings and K's, but they’ve both been excellent. Bibee’s line since June 24: 2-0, 1.59 ERA, 26 K's and 11 walks in 22 2/3 innings.
5. Bryan Woo, RHP, Mariners (previously unranked)
Here’s how close it was -- Woo’s ERA over the same span is 1.61, thanks to having 22 1/3 innings pitched. He has three fewer strikeouts and four fewer walks than Bibee, and the best WHIP among rookie starters over the past month. If you’re a Mariners fan, this probably annoys you but they’ve both been great. Call it a tie if you want to.
6. Matt McLain, SS, Reds (previously unranked)
His teammate to the right of him on the diamond has been more spectacular, but McLain has probably been the Reds’ most valuable player this year. He’s put up numbers while holding down shortstop, helping make this surprise team go. He has a very solid .260/.343/.510 line in 96 at-bats over the past month.
7. Gunnar Henderson, 3B, Orioles (previous rank: 10)
This was another extremely close one, with McLain getting the edge for positional value and for a bit of an OBP advantage. But Henderson has kept up his surge, slashing .265/.333/.506 on the month as the young and entertaining O’s have challenged the Rays for the division lead.
8. Reese Olson, RHP, Tigers (previously unranked)
Now here’s one we didn’t exactly see coming. Olson was not a Top 10 prospect in the organization at the time of his callup. He’s not an especially big guy and he doesn’t have blow-you-away velocity. And yet! All he’s done is get outs. Olson has a 2.84 ERA in four starts and two relief appearances over the last month, with 29 K's against just four walks in 25 1/3 innings.
9. Andrew Abbott, LHP, Reds (previously unranked)
Yes, another Red on the list. They’re an awfully fun team these days. Abbott has been inconsistent lately, but the overall body of work in the last month is still pretty stout. He leads rookies in K's (39) and innings pitched (30) in that time, and his 3.90 ERA may not be eye-popping but it’s perfectly solid. Still, here at the Rookie Hot List, we value availability, and Abbott’s innings and counting stats help push him onto the list.
10. Josh Jung, 3B, Rangers (previous rank: 3)
Speaking of playing regularly, Jung’s numbers the past month haven’t been quite as good as earlier this year, but they’ve been plenty good and he remains a constant presence for the surprising Rangers. He’s at .262/.290/.466 over the month, with five homers and 16 RBIs to tie for the rookie lead in both categories. Jung just keeps hitting and the Rangers just keep winning.