Latest Rookie Power Rankings show holds tightening at the top

September 19th, 2023

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

Please make sure you don’t miss that last part: “at the end of the season.” We’re not trying to determine who would win if the awards were handed out today. Of course, with only two weeks left in the season, there’s not much projection left. But still: Things can change.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top of the list is pretty static these days. We’ve had a good idea of the top of the leaderboards for several weeks now. However, the bottom half features an unusual amount of movement, with three names who did not appear on last month's list.

1. Corbin Carroll, OF, D-backs (previous rank: 1)
Carroll’s power has waned a bit in the second half of the season, but his overall numbers are indisputable. He’s an all-around contributor with a solid bat who steals bases and can go get it in the outfield. He’s no longer a fringe MVP candidate, as he seemed to be early in the year, but he’s a heavy favorite for NL Rookie honors.

2. Gunnar Henderson, 3B, Orioles (previous rank: 2)
Much like Carroll, Henderson pretty much checks every box you would want for a Rookie of the Year favorite. He’s been in the Majors all year long, enabling him to rack up some big numbers. His rate stats are also strong, and he’s played strong defense at a key position -- all for a team in the postseason hunt. There’s just about nothing else you can ask for.

3. Kodai Senga, RHP, Mets (previous rank: 3)
Senga’s brilliant stretch run has made the NL Rookie conversation a little more interesting than it might otherwise have been. Over his last four starts, he has 37 strikeouts and a 1.75 ERA, and he’s closing in on 200 K's for the season. Senga still walks a few more hitters than you’d like, but he’s been everything the Mets could have wanted and it’s hard to imagine he won’t be a finalist for the BBWAA Rookie award.

4. Matt McLain, SS, Reds (previous rank: 4)
About the only thing McLain is missing is playing time. His .290/.357/.507 line is stellar, and he’s been a quality shortstop for a surprising Reds team. If he’d debuted on Opening Day or had he not gone on the injured list three weeks ago, he might very well be mounting a serious challenge to Carroll as the National League’s top rookie.

5. Tanner Bibee, RHP, Guardians (previous rank: 6)
At this point, Bibee’s hot streak is more like a hot half-season. He has not allowed more than three runs in a start since June, a stretch of 16 consecutive outings. During that time, he has a 2.50 ERA, 96 strikeouts in 93 2/3 innings and 31 walks. Unfortunately, he’s on the injured list and is probably done for the year, so it’s hard to see him closing the gap on Henderson, but he’ll be a factor in year-end voting.

6. Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox (previous rank: 5)
Sadly, Casas is yet another name on the injured list at the end of an excellent season. It’s about the only blemish on him, however, as Casas offered the kind of power and on-base ability that the Red Sox had long hoped for from him. He doesn’t provide quite the defense or all-around game of someone like Henderson, but purely for offensive production, he’s been as good as anyone in the American League.

7. Masataka Yoshida, OF, Red Sox (previous rank: 8)
Masataka surged in July and has faded since then, but his body of work remains strong. He has been eclipsed by his teammate thanks to a .240/.268/.375 second-half line, but it’s still a very nice first full season in the big leagues. And like Casas, Yoshida is sure to show up on some ballots when AL Rookie voting is revealed.

8. Royce Lewis, 3B, Twins (previously unranked)
When Lewis has played, he’s been absolutely brilliant. He just hasn’t played enough. His batting line for the season, a very nice .310/.372/.543, may well land him on some ballots even if he falls short of 300 plate appearances. Lewis has dealt so extensively with injuries already, here’s hoping he can finally get a long run of staying healthy so we can see what he can do on an everyday basis.

9. Elly De La Cruz, 3B/SS, Reds (previously unranked)
And he’s back on the list! De La Cruz has slumped significantly in the second half, but periodically he still shows flashes of what he can do. He’s also moved over to shortstop to cover for the injured McLain, and he certainly deserves some credit for that. De La Cruz is not a finished product, but he’s exciting nonetheless, and he’s been a net benefit to the Reds this year.

10. James Outman, OF, Dodgers (previously unranked)
We were a little slow to warm to Outman earlier in the year, figuring he would slow down as the season went on. And he did -- then he came on again in the second half. As we reach the end of his rookie year, it’s hard to ignore 21 homers, 15 steals in 17 tries, a .354 on-base percentage and more than 500 plate appearances for a division champion. That’s a nice year that merits some award consideration.