New Fish tops latest Rookie Power Rankings

Detroit Tigers

Another new Rookie Power Rankings, another Marlin at the top of the list.

Miami left-hander Trevor Rogers climbed two places to take over the No. 1 spot in this latest edition of the RPR, replacing infielder and teammate Jazz Chisholm Jr. at the top. The most notable jumper might be one spot lower, however, in Rangers outfielder Adolis García, who continues to display some of the best power not only among rookies but among all Major Leaguers. With 16 homers as the calendar flips to June, García can no longer be ignored as a player with the capability to compete for a Rookie of the Year Award in 2021.

On that note, recall that the RPR is a ranking of the rookies most likely to win the Rookie of the Year Awards in 2021, based on both their current performance and projections for the rest of the way. All stats are through Tuesday’s games.

1. Trevor Rogers, LHP, Marlins (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 3

The Miami southpaw climbs into the top spot for the first time because of his steady nature on the bump. Rogers has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any of his 11 starts this season, and even then, he has only allowed three on one occasion. He owns a 1.87 ERA, sixth-best among all Major League qualifiers, and leads all rookies with 76 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings. Hitters at the top level are still finding it to difficult to adjust to Rogers’ three-pitch mix, and the deeper he gets into 2021, the more Rogers looks like a serious Rookie of the Year Award favorite.

2. Adolis García, OF, Rangers (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 7 (tied)

If the season ended today, García might actually leapfrog over Rogers for the top spot. The Texas outfielder ranks third in all of the Majors with 16 homers, entering Wednesday. (Only Ronald Acuña Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. have more with 17 each.) His .581 slugging percentage places eighth; Akil Baddoo (.509) is the only other qualified rookie above .500 in the category. A player who was designated for assignment only this past February has quickly become one of the most powerful and electric sluggers at the top level. But this is about projection, and there are some signs that García’s production won’t last the full summer. A staggering 16 of his 20 total extra-base hits have gone over the fence. He has struck out in 29.5 percent of his plate appearances and has posted just a .321 OBP. If pitchers can take advantage of García’s aggression — his chase rate is in just the fourth percentile so far — then the overall numbers could come down as the summer wears on. For now, García remains one of the Majors’ best home-run hitters.

3 (tie). Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 3

In a season that has been thus far disappointing in Atlanta, the club’s rookie right-hander has proved to be one of its most consistent performers. Anderson owns a 3.27 ERA in 55 innings and ranks third among rookie pitchers with 59 strikeouts in 55 innings. He has gone at least six frames in half of his 10 starts. His upper-80s changeup remains his most devastating pitch; opposing batters are whiffing on it 40.3 percent of the time and batting only .157 against it to this point.

3 (tie). Dylan Carlson, OF, Cardinals (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 2

Carlson continues to find himself a regular role in the Cardinals lineup as an above-average hitter who can play multiple outfield spots. The switch-hitter has produced a .274/.359/.419 line through 53 games that works out to a 119 wRC+. (A league average wRC+ is 100.) As the slugging portion of the slash would indicate, power has been an issue at times, but Carlson showed some spark in that department by going deep in back-to-back games on Sunday and Monday. The 22-year-old’s 0.9 fWAR ranks fifth among rookie position players at present, and if he can continue to grow to show some of the same power he exhibited in the Minor Leagues, his spot on that list should take a jump in June and beyond.

5. Randy Arozarena, OF, Rays (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 6

Arozarena continues to run hot and cold in his follow-up to last year’s record-setting postseason performance. There are times like May 19-20, when he combined for seven hits, three homers and eight RBIs over two games at Baltimore. Then, there are his most recent six games over which he is 3-for-24 (.125) with no extra-base hits and eight strikeouts. The Rays outfielder has a .259/.348/.408 slash line with seven homers and eight stolen bases through 52 games on the season. Because of his above-average outfield defense and good baserunning, Arozarena’s 1.2 fWAR is second to only García’s 2.0 among rookie position players. His power can surge at any time, as everyone saw in 2020, and that would only strengthen his case through the summer.

6. Yermín Mercedes, DH, White Sox (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 4

He is human. Mercedes enters Thursday 0-for-19 over his last six games and has batted just .125 with one extra-base hit (a homer) in the 14 games since the last Rookie Power Rankings. Cold stretches happen, especially for rookies with only one Major League plate appearance entering this season. Mercedes still leads rookie qualifiers with a .304 average and ranks third on that same list with an .828 OPS. Similarly, his seven homers are tied with Arozarena for third among rookies. With a 116.8 mph max exit velocity, the Chicago slugger has the potential to make extremely hard contact. The adjustments he makes to tap into that in the weeks ahead will determine whether this is a low point or his new normal.

7. Jazz Chisholm Jr., INF, Marlins (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: 1

They haven’t been an easy few weeks for the young Miami star. At the time of the last RPR, Chisholm was preparing to return from a hamstring injury that had kept him out for two weeks. Since then, he has gone just 10-for-40 (.250) with one homer, two steals and 18 strikeouts in nine games — a stretch that was interrupted by an ankle issue that kept him out from May 26-31. He is still slashing .275/.339/.468 with five homers and nine steals in 30 games, and his 1.1 fWAR ranks third among rookie position players. But a K rate that has climbed to 35.5 percent and questions about how the injuries will affect his power-speed combo have caused this drop.

8. Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: Unranked

This is more like the pitcher the Tigers thought they were getting at No. 1 overall in 2018. Mize has posted a 2.19 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 13 walks over his last six starts (37 innings), prompting his season ERA to drop from 5.23 to 3.28. His slider has been particularly difficult to touch thus far; opponents are hitting only .185 and slugging .296 against it while whiffing 29.9 percent of the time. No matter the pitch, Mize continues to solidify not only his place among the game’s best rookies but also Detroit’s long-term plans.

9. Luis García, RHP, Astros (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: Unranked

García jumps into the RPR for the first time on the strength of a four-start stretch in which he’s posted a 1.57 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 23 innings. His seven-inning, one-run performance against the Red Sox on Tuesday was the longest of his Major League career so far and a sign that this success could be sustainable. His 60 K’s rank second among rookies, and his 1.00 WHIP is even better than Rogers’ 1.10. García has the full five-pitch arsenal to keep this run going at a time when the Astros are still chasing the A’s in the AL West.

10. Dane Dunning, RHP, Rangers (graduated from Top 30)
Previous RPR: Unranked

Only two rookie pitchers have an fWAR above 1.0 at this stage of the season. Only one of them entered the season as a Top 100 prospect. Dunning (1.2, No. 91) is just the pitcher to fit the bill. It’s important to remember that fWAR is FIP-based, and that explains how Dunning can post a 4.67 ERA but still rank so highly. The Rangers right-hander has struck out 55, walked just 17 and allowed only four homers in 11 starts (52 innings), resulting in a much lower 3.00 FIP. If that ERA can normalize closer to the FIP, Dunning has every opportunity to be up there with the other pitchers ranked higher on this list.

Others receiving votes: Michael Kopech, Emmanuel Clase, Pavin Smith, Nick Madrigal, Tarik Skubal

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