Emerging contenders make Rookie Power Rankings push

July 25th, 2023

Welcome to the July 2023 edition of the MLB Pipeline Rookie Power Rankings. Every month, Pipeline’s experts vote on who we believe are the likeliest Rookie of the Year winners at the end of the season.

Please make sure you read that last part, because it’s essential: “at the end of the season.” We’re not trying to determine who would win if the awards were handed out today. Of course we consider performance to date, but we also balance it with our expectations for the rest of the year. And obviously as the year goes on, players’ actual stats will weigh more heavily, and projections will wash out of the rankings.

The top of the rankings look quite a bit like they did last month, but there’s a good bit of movement farther down in the top 10. Here’s the list:

1. Corbin Carroll, OF, D-Backs (previous rank: 1)
Carroll has definitely scuffled a bit in July, but his overall numbers are unassailable, and everything in his past suggests that that performance is legit. He’s at 21 homers and 29 steals (in just 32 attempts!), making him a very real threat for the second 30-30 season ever by a rookie (Mike Trout, 2012), and the first in the National League. His case is also helped by the fact that unlike Henderson, he’s not being pushed quite as hard by contenders in his own league.

2. Gunnar Henderson, 3B, Orioles (previous rank: 2)
Henderson’s overall numbers (a .244/.340/.472 slash line, 16 homers) don’t wow you on first glance the way that Carroll’s do, but those stats don’t tell the whole story. Henderson was slow to catch fire, hitting .189 before May. He’s raking over the past couple of months, and like Carroll, we have no reason to think he can’t or won’t keep it up.

3. Masataka Yoshida, OF, Red Sox (previous rank: 7)
If you caught last week’s Rookie Hot List, you won’t be surprised to see Yoshida as the week’s biggest climber. He’s been brilliant in July, bringing his overall line up to .315/.376/.494. He’s not delivering the defensive value that Henderson does, and Henderson gets a boost for playing for a first-place team. But if the vote were taken today, Yoshida would have a real chance to win AL Rookie of the Year honors.

4. Josh Jung, 3B, Rangers (previous rank: 3)
Jung hasn’t fallen off so much as Yoshida just got hot and passed him. He’s still producing regularly for a first-place team. And actually, his July numbers (.276/.321/.474) are almost identical to his year-long showing (.275/.326/.490). He’s at 20 homers, giving him a very real shot to hit 30 at year’s end, and he’s playing a steady third base on top of it.

5. Kodai Senga, RHP, Mets (previous rank: 8T)
Senga’s last start, at Fenway, was a bit rough. But it followed a string of very nice outings, and he just keeps amassing a solid year-long stat line. He has 125 Ks in 99 innings and a very nice 3.27 ERA. As long as he keeps performing, the fact that he’s been piling up numbers all year will help keep him in the race.

6. Matt McLain, SS, Reds (previous rank: 8T)
Here’s the first player on the list who hasn’t been in the big leagues all year, and you can be sure that if he had 40 more games played, he’d be very, very high on this list. McLain has been outstanding, arguably the Reds’ most valuable player over the course of the season. He’s hitting for average and power while playing a quality shortstop for a surprise contender.

7. Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros (previous rank: 5)
Brown’s performance has tailed off a bit, and that’s reflected in his spot in the rankings. He’s allowed 21 earned runs in his last 30 innings. Still, his overall numbers are credible (4.19 ERA, 122 Ks and 35 walks in 105 1/3 innings) and he remains a valuable rotation member for a team very much in the hunt. The opportunity certainly exists for him to work his way back up the list.

8. Francisco Alvarez, C, Mets (previously unranked)
Look out: Alvarez is hot again. He slumped badly in June, but his July numbers have been spectacular. Even now, he’s not playing every day (no surprise for a catcher), so it will be tough for him to compile the counting stats to win Rookie honors. But if he keeps hitting like this, he’s a sure thing to appear on some ballots.

9. Elly De La Cruz, 3B, Reds (previous rank: 4)
De La Cruz started his Major League career so late in the season that it was always going to be very tough for him to crack the top of the list. Add in that he’s been in a deep slump for the past two weeks or so, and it’s only natural that he’s tumbled to the bottom half of the rankings. Don’t worry: we still love watching him play, and we still love his long-term prospects. But he’ll have a hard time really pushing for the award.

10 (tie). Tanner Bibee, RHP, Guardians (previously unranked)
A scorching month has gotten Bibee onto the list. He’s allowed four earned runs over his last five starts, with Cleveland going 3-1 in that span. He still only has 83 innings on the year, but as his strikeout total climbs and his ERA dips, he at least becomes likely to draw some votes at year’s end.

10 (tie). Andrew Abbott, LHP, Reds (previously unranked)
An even more extreme case than Bibee, Abbott is racking up some tremendous numbers but his very low innings total means it will be a challenge for him to make a real run at Rookie honors. Still, he has a 2.10 ERA in nine starts, and in his last outing he pitched eight one-hit shutout innings. He’s certainly someone to keep an eye on.