Top AL Rookie Hitters

This week we’re taking a look at some of the top rookies in Major League Baseball in an attempt to ascertain who is the most deserving candidate for Rookie of the Year in both the American and National Leagues. Today, we’ll take a look at four position players in the American League (minimum 200 at-bats).

Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers

Andrus received a lot of hype early on in the season for his solid play, but that has quieted down a bit. The soon-to-be 21-year-old infielder had a slow June and July average-wise and the power he showed in May never reappeared. He hit two homers and had a total of eight extra-base hits that month, but has just six extra base hits since June 1 (157 at-bats). Overall, the youngster has a respectable line of .262/.326/.361 with 20 steals in 22 attempts. With Andrus, though, his defense must also be weighed heavily when discussing his value to the Rangers. He’s made 14 errors, but Andrus gets to balls no other shortstop can dream of reaching and his UZR of 7.8 is third in all of Major League Baseball behind Jack Wilson (Seattle/Pittsburgh) and J.J. Hardy (Milwaukee).

Gordon Beckham, 3B, Chicago White Sox

Beckham has not been in the Majors quite as long as the other three rookies, but he has arguably made the most noise over the past month. After a slow start (that oddly had some writers calling him a bust with a lousy swing), the infielder finished his first month in the Majors with a line of .267/.353/.387 in 75 at-bats. Since then, he’s been one of the club’s best hitters and now has an overall line of .302/.369/.483 with six homers in 205 at-bats. The 22-year-old also has 19 doubles, which is tops amongst rookies in the AL. Beckham also leads in average, on-base percentage, slugging and RBIs. He’s third in homers behind Reimold and teammate Jayson Nix. The former college and minor league shortstop has also been learning his new position on the fly at the hot corner.

Chris Getz, 2B, Chicago White Sox

A former fourth-round pick out of the University of Michigan, Getz just keeps plugging along. The middle infielder isn’t flashy but he’s put together a respectable first season in the Majors with a line of .268/.320/.368 in 310 at-bats. He has 18 steals in 20 attempts. Getz has also scored 43 runs. He doesn’t have much power (.100 ISO) but he has a healthy line drive rate at 19.7%. The 25-year-old has a solid strikeout rate at 13.9 K% but his walk rate is a little low at 6.1 BB%. Getz looks like a solid No. 2 hitter. He leads AL rookies in hits and is tied with Elvis Andrus in runs scored.

Nolan Reimold, LF, Baltimore Orioles

Reimold’s teammate (and the top prospect in baseball entering 2009) Matt Wieters is slowly picking up steam but he has yet to top 200 at-bats in the majors this season. As such, Reimold is currently the favorite amongst Baltimore’s rookies to win the AL Rookie of the Year. Reimold hit a few rough patches in the minors, which temporarily clouded his potential, but he entered pro ball with some hype as a second round draft pick out of Bowling Green University in 2005. The 25-year-old outfielder has a solid line of .272/.365/.444 with 10 homers in 239 at-bats. He also has an encouraging walk rate for a young player at 11.8 BB%, and a solid strikeout rate for a power-hitting prospect at 20.1 K%. Reimold leads rookies in the AL in homers, walks, and is second in RBI as well as OPS.

So, who do you think is most deserving amongst AL rookies for the year-end award? Will Wieters or another rookie hitter climb the charts in the final two months and steal the coveted title of best rookie hitter?

Tomorrow, we’ll look at some rookie pitchers in the American League.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


17 Responses to “Top AL Rookie Hitters”

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  1. Karl says:

    Gotta admit as a Braves fan seeing Elvis Andrus run all over the place hurts. How bad does that trade for Tex look now? I’m a little surprised at the lack of extra basehits. Really on six extra base hits since June 1? As the article points out, don’t be too concerned about the errors. Andrus has an absolute arm and his range is outstanding. Congratulations Rangers, you have a star SS for the next decade. As for us Braves… well, Tex was nice while we had him…

    Who do you guys like for AL Rookie Of The Year?

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  2. CH says:

    Can you find the link to the article calling Beckham a bust with a lousy swing? I’d love to cut and paste the entire article into an e-mail titled “FAIL” and send it to the original author.

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  3. Mike B. says:

    Gotta go with Beckham. He already looks fairly polished–not sure about any “lousy swing”. Can’t wait to see how he’ll do next season should he be play a full season at 3B.

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  4. Jerkface says:

    Brett Gardner is going to return from injury, lead the yankees to 100 wins with his centerfield platoon while spelling Damon down the line, and win ROY

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  5. Mike says:

    Sorry, Jerkface. Brett is not eligible for ROY, having played in 42 games in 2008 over a span longer than 45 days. Eligibility rules:

    Additional eligibility requirements were set forth in 1971 with a rookie formally defined as a player with less than 130 at-bats, a pitcher with less than 50 innings pitched, or anyone with less than 45 days on any Major League roster.

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  6. Brooksy Boy says:

    As they say on the internets, Reimold FTW!

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    • Davidceisen says:

      Reimold and Beckham have almost identical ISO and wOBA averages, but in the areas that ROY voters care about (BA, OPS, ect) Beckham is the clear winner. Factor in the division race, and Beckham has the upper hand.

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  7. Tim says:

    If Beckham keeps this up, hits about 300, could end up with 15-20 homers, 70ish rbi, there is no reason he should not be the ROY.

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  8. Chris says:

    Brad Bergesen or Jeff Niemann, anyone?

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  9. Chris says:

    Fuck I’m retarded.

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  10. Jerkface says:

    Baseball prospectus said he is a rookie. Most of his 2008 playing time came in september which if I recall does not count.

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  11. David says:

    I know you article is trying to drum up some interest but this is no contest. Elvis Andrus and what he brings to the table defensively can’t be underestimated to what he has meant to the Ranger pitchers, just compare the WAR and value figures.

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  12. Shush says:

    Elvis Andrus looks like a younger Ozzie Guillen. My vote goes to Beckham, who can rake. Folks who supposedly called him a bust after a surprising promotion and less than a year as a pro likely deserve to be banned from all communication devices.

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  13. Part-time Pariah says:

    i think it was steve rosenbloom over here in chicago, from the tribune, that said those awful, awful things about “bacon” (beckham…that’s what a lot of people over here are calling him).

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