Baseball’s brilliant rookie class

Cody Bellinger
Cody Bellinger

The 2017 Major League Baseball season is entering its home stretch. Contenders are getting their rosters together for a playoff run while non-contenders are starting to look ahead to next season. Once the minor league seasons wind down, the big-league teams will call up players from their farm squads and we’ll get a peek at next year’s potential rookies. For now baseball has some extremely productive rookies having big seasons and making significant contributions to their teams.

Of course, it starts with New York Yankees rookie right-fielder Aaron Judge, who in just a few short months has become a household name. At the All-Star break, Judge was leading the Majors in home runs and was among the league leaders in both batting average and RBIs, and thus has triple crown potential along with being a candidate not only for the Rookie of the Year, but the league MVP.

Joining Judge in the outfield is rookie Clint Frazier, who was called up by the Yankees in July. Frazier was acquired with other prospects from the Cleveland Indians in a 2016 mid-season trade for pitcher Andrew Miller. That deal looks genius now, and will look even more so if Frazier remains with the club and continues to contribute as the Yankees and Red Sox battle for the AL East.

 Cody Bellinger
Cody Bellinger

Over in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers run in the West can be credited somewhat to rookie left fielder Cody Bellinger, who trails only Judge in both RBIs and home runs among rookies. Who knows what Bellinger’s numbers would be, had he started the season with the Dodgers rather than being called up in late April?

If the Dodgers are to be challenged in the West by the Colorado Rockies, their surge this season could be partially attributed to a pair of rookie starting pitchers who are turning in quality outings. At the All-Star break, both Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela were tops among MLB rookies, with 9-7 and 9-3 records respectively. The Rockies have also called up rookie starter Jeff Hoffman this season, who was 5-1 at the All-Star break.

The Washington Nationals are running away with the NL East, but early in the season were still trying to figure out their bullpen, primarily the closer role. Although he’s been injured, that job went to Koda Glover, who pitched for the Nats last season but is still of rookie status this year. If he heals up, Koda could find himself in some tight situations come October.

Some other notable rookies likely headed to the post season include Boston Red Sox center fielder Andrew Benintendi and Houston Astros third baseman Yuli Gurriel, who help make the 2017 rookie class as good as we’ve seen in some time.

Dan Ladd

Dan Ladd is a freelance sports writer who works out of Gracenote’s Queensbury, NY office.

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