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Wild Card: Rookie All-Stars
The All-Star voting, which ends at midnight on Wednesday, gives fans an opportunity to pick their favorite established stars, but what about the stars of tomorrow? The following is my All-Star team of the top rookies thus far in 2007.
1B: James Loney, Dodgers, 23 This is not the best way to start, but first base and catcher are the thinnest positions in the 2007 rookie class. There are a fair number of first-sackers playing their first full seasons -- the Braves' Scott Thorman, the Royals' Ryan Shealy, the Indians' Ryan Garko, and, at long last, the Angels' Casey Kotchman, the last of whom is hitting a fantastic .333/.411/.556 after missing most of last year with mononucleosis -- but all of them lost their rookie status last year or before. That leaves Loney, who, despite Nomar Garciaparra's struggles, has started a grand total of three games at first base for the Dodgers, though all of them have been in the past week and a half. The Reds have Joey Votto tearing up the International League, but Scott Hatteberg is holding his own for the big club, so Loney is likely the majors' best hope for the second half.
2B: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, 23 There were doubters when the Red Sox announced over the winter that they were going to give the diminutive Pedroia the job. There were doubters when Pedroia was hitting just .172/.294/.224 on May 1. Since then, Pedroia has hit .382/.441/.550. Anyone heard from those doubters?
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, 22 Tulowitzki's supposed to be the next big thing at shortstop. Thus far he's been a gold glove-quality defender and a decent on-base man, but Colorado's still waiting on his power. It will come, and not just because he plays his home games in Denver.
3B: Ryan Braun, Brewers, 23 The Brewers needlessly ran Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino out to the hot corner throughout April and most of May before finally relenting and giving the job to Braun, who was slugging .701 (!) with Triple-A Nashville. Since then, he's hit .305/.346/.537. Incidentally, third base is the deepest rookie position this year. Twenty-eight-year-old Japanese import Akinori Iwamura is hitting .323/.426/.476 for the Devil Rays. Twenty-three-year-old Mark Reynolds has hit .284/.352/.505 for the Diamondbacks and appears to be pushing Chad Tracy back to first base, if not off the team entirely. After hitting just .108 through May 10, the Padres' Kevin Kouzmanoff, 25, has hit .333/.400/.559 since. After an even more notorious slow start, überprospect Alex Gordon, 23, has hit .404/.424/.614 over the last 14 games. Finally, Joe Crede's back injury forced the White Sox to promote their top prospect, 24-year-old Josh Fields. Since picking up his first major league hit in his fourth game, Fields has hit .342/.390/.579 over the last two weeks.
C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Braves, 22 Carlos Ruiz is actually starting in Philadelphia, while Saltalamacchia is merely backing up Brian McCann in Atlanta, but Salty has made the most of his opportunities, hitting .319/.365/.464. Sooner or later the Braves will have to choose between McCann, who made the All-Star team and won the Silver Slugger award last year at 22, and Saltalamacchia, who's a year younger and every bit as good, if not better. That, or they could move Salty to first base.
RF: Travis Buck, A's, 23 Buck wasn't even supposed to make the A's out of spring training, but injuries to Mark Kotsay and Dan Johnson opened the door and Buck burst through. Since May 1, he's hit .333/.405/.543 and has played right field so well that, with both Kotsay and Johnson back in action, the A's just designated their intended right fielder, the oft-injured Milton Bradley, for assignment.
CF: Hunter Pence, Astros, 24 There was concern over Pence's ability to play center field, but his defense has been solid thus far. Chris Burke lost the Astros' center-field job after hitting .219/.329/.329 through April 27. Pence took over the next day and hasn't looked back, crushing the ball to a .351/.373/.598 tune, which makes him the most productive center fielder in baseball thus far this year, though he’s still a bit shy of qualifying for the batting title.
LF: Reggie Willits, Angels, 26 Garret Anderson has been no better than a league average hitter for the past three years, but the Angels remained convinced that he was one of their team's stars. That is until Anderson tore a hip flexor in early May and they got an extended look at Willits, who excels at the one thing Anderson struggles with the most: getting on base. Willits has installed himself as the Angels leadoff hitter and leftfielder by hitting .337 with a .435 on-base percentage, playing tremendous defense, and stealing 18 bases in 20 attempts. Anderson, who just went back on the DL last weekend, may have a hard time getting his job back.
Starting Rotation: The true future stars can be found here, but the most successful rookie starters thus far have been:
Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles, 28: The Indians' 2002 first-round pick out of Stanford, Guthrie was plucked off waivers by Baltimore in January, joined the rotation in early May following injuries to Adam Loewen and Jaret Wright, and has a 1.63 ERA and nine quality starts in as many tries since.
Justin Germano, Padres, 24: The Padres drafted Germano in 2000, traded him for Joe Randa at the deadline in 2005, and claimed him off waivers from the Phillies in the middle of spring training this year. Echoing Guthrie, Germano replaced the injured Clay Hensley in the rotation in early May and has turned in seven quality starts in eight tries, going 5-1 along the way.
Chris Sampson, Astros, 29: Sampson has nine quality starts in 13 tries, but his low strikeout rate and inconsistent ground-ball tendencies don’t paint a rosy picture going forward.
Brian Bannister, Royals, 26: Dealt to K.C. from the Mets for Ambiorix Burgos in December, Floyd's kid took Zack Greinke's spot in the Royals' rotation at the end of April, and at the beginning of June he allowed just one unearned run in 22 innings over three starts.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox, 26: He's not quite an ace, but he does lead the Sox in strikeouts.
CL: Joakim Soria, Royals, 23 Soria, a Rule 5 pick from the Padres, has actually lost his closer job due to switching DL places with Octavio Dotel, but one assumes that the Royals will flip Dotel by the deadline and reinstall Soria, who was 10 for 13 in save chances and hasn't allowed a home run in nearly 30 innings on the season.
RP: Hideki Okajima, Red Sox, 31: The veteran Japanese lefty has been practically unhittable for the Red Sox, posting a 1.01 ERA and a 0.813 WHIP due to a mere 19 hits allowed in 35 2/3 innings and just one home run, which was hit by the first batter he faced in the major leagues, John Buck of the Royals. Curiously, of his four runs allowed on the season (which have come in four separate appearances), two of them, and his only blown save, have come against the rival Yankees.
Labels: Wild Card
posted by SI.com | View comments |
you just forget about Josh Hamilton
What about Shawn Marcum for the Blue Jays?
also john danks, his w-l isn't that great, but he's been a bright spot for the white sox
Where is Hamilton, who should be rookie of the year. And the entire Devil Ray OF
Wheres Josh Hamilton and Felix Pie I mean come on i could understand if Pie gets left out but Hanilton. You must be insane not to put Josh Hamilton there.
no love for pence still...josh hamilton was actually leading him on the poll on the homepage...if somebody actually looked up the numbers they'd vote pence 100 percent of the time
How about Felix Pie in the outfield? The average is down, but the Cubs are considerably better with him in the lineup and he definitely strengthens the defense.
Fausto Carmona is 8-3 for a contending team in the toughest division is baseball
cant forget about Joe Smith
willy harris for the braves has been one of the outstanding out fielders for the braves! hes batting almost .400!
Those outfielders over Josh
Hamilton and his daily web gems
and 13 home runs despite not
starting for 3 weeks and being
out for 3 weeks with an intestinal
Marcum isn't a rookie, Ryan. Anyway, I'm happy Pedroia, Matsuzaka and Okajima there.
What about Delmon Young? One of the best arms in all of baseball, rookie or not. Better than average defense and solid offensive numbers as a starter all year long. Oh yeah, you only consider OPS.
what about anthony reyes??? he's been on fire lately!!! man that boy sure is good
Hamilton's played well but he's definitely doesn't belong here in place of Hunter Pence.
How can you leave Hamilton out? He could easily become the NL Rookie of the year!
Marcum may not still have rookie status after last season. Dustin McGowan sure does and after today's near no-hitter, surely deserves a spot on that list.
When this year is all said and done Corey Hart will be one of the best young outfielders in the leaugue
Cliff Corcoran knows his stuff--and he has a great last name too.
how could you forget Prince Fielder 1B for the brewers, he is leading the NL in homers and is the cornerstone that is powering the brew crew to a 5 game lead in the NL central
What about Josh Hamilton?, you moron!!!!!
Felix Pie is making his mark for the Cubs and should be noted
what about the diamondbacks...best record in the NL and half their roster is rookies yet only mark reynolds is mentioned?
Hamilton absolutely should NOT be on that list, the others are better, come on.
Felix Pie and Delmon Young have no place being mentioned as options, they have great talent, but are not showing it, this is a current all-star team, they have no place.
Carmona is worthy of serious consideration, or he would be were he a rookie? 38games 74innings last year I think would rule him out.
Prince Fielder came up? why not Pujols?.. ROOKIES.
fielder and hart both lost rookie status last year, along with fausto carmona i believe...
i agree with the list, hamilton/pence is a toss up...
yovani gallardo will be on the starting rotation of this list very shortly....
Prince Fielder hasn't been a rookie for about 3 years. Come on guys .. it's ROOKIE all stars.
Ok, Hamilton could go in RF, but Pence has been the best Rookie CF this year. Pie has no place in that discussion, he is noted as a light hitting CF who's not as good as Pence or Hamilton. Willie Harris is not a rookie, nor is Prince Fielder nor is Fausto Carmona nor is Corey Hart so you four posters either don't know what a rookie is or have reading comprehension issues. While Harris and Carmona were both called up this year from the minors, they spent significant time in the majors in previous seasons.
As a D'backs fan, I have to point out that, for a team that now has the best record in the NL, (knock on wood) Micah Owings has started most of the year and is 5-1 with a 4.06 ERA. Also CF Chris B. Young has been an above-average defender in the outfield and despite hitting .246, is 3rd on the team with 27 RBIs, 2nd with 8 stolen bags and 2nd with 10 home runs. Of those 10 homers, 3 have been game winners or walkoffs. Both players, at the very least, should have earned a mention.
How are you going to pick Loney who hardly has played!!!!!! Over Casey Kotchman? Who i think along with Ryan Garko should play 1st base in the All-Star Game not a DH Who only plays 1st base twice a year!!!!!
That's because Kotchman, and Garko are NOT rookies you mow-ron. Read what he wrote, they are ineligible.
Willy Harris? Nice comment. He is having a nice season. But he's about as close to being a rookie as Roger Clemens. I just looked up journeyman utility player in the dictionary and found a picture of Willy Harris.
Andrew Miller??? Hello!
If he stays, Yiovana Gallarda will be at the top of the rotation of these rookies.
This is rookie all-stars, not honorable mentions. Should Josh Hamilton be mentioned?? yes...but this isnt a column to mention the best 2 or 3 rookies at each position. Its who the best is and plain and simple Hunter Pence has been outstanding and more consistent than Hamilton. As long as Pence stays consistent throughout the year he deserves rookie of the year honors easily over Hamilton
Regarding Hunter Pence, and acknowledging that ROY is the only thing in Houston to root for post 3k Biggio, how come he is not on the stats page of SI.com? He has more ABs than some on the list and would currently be 2nd in AVG by two points. I want a trophy of some kind and it would help if his name was up there. Any explanation?
Prince Fielder? LOL.
I vote for Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux.
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