MLB: Wilson Ramos and the 2011 All-Rookie Team
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Have you ever noticed that Major League Baseball is the only big four sport that doesn't have an all-rookie team that is voted on by the writers? When making this article I figured out why. There aren't enough good rookies in baseball to really form a decent team.
Sometimes you even wind up with a terrible Rookie of the Year, making putting together an entire team almost impossible.
Nevertheless, I already researched this, so here is my Major League Baseball all-rookie team.
Catcher: Wilson Ramos
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Ramos took over the catching job from Ivan Rodriguez and never looked back. So far this season he has posted a .253/.329/.415 slash line and has played solid defense behind the plate. He also showed a good arm, throwing out 35 percent of attempted base stealers (league average is 28 percent).
Expect Ramos to improve with the bat and to throw out even more runners in the future. He still needs to improve his game calling, but Ivan Rodriguez may be able to help with that.
First Base: Freddie Freeman
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In his first full year Freddie Freeman is already showing how good of a hitter is. He already has 15 home runs and 26 doubles. His .364 on-base percentage tops rookies with at least 200 plate appearances and his .477 slugging is second in the same group. If he can keep improving at the plate he could become an elite hitter.
Despite being projected as a good fielder, he hasn't been able to play well at first this year and will need to improve in that area. His baserunning could also use some improvement, he only takes an extra base 23 percent of the time.
Second Base: Danny Espinosa
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Despite only hitting .223 this year, Danny Espinosa has been quietly putting up a legitimate Rookie of the Year campaign. He gets on base at a respectable pace and has shown plus power. If he can cut down on hit 23.8 percent strikeout rate, he could become an even more fearsome hitter. He already has 17 homers and 12 steals, and may become a 20/20 guy next year.
His greatest trait, however, is his glove. He easily is good enough to be a shortstop, and he may move back over because of Ian Desmond's struggles and prospects Stephen Lombardozzi and Anthony Rendon, who can both play second but not short.
Third Base: Daniel Descalso
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Descalso already shows good plate discipline, with above average walk and strikeout rates. This gives him a good on-base percentage of .342, despite a mediocre .263 average and a sub-par .359 slugging percentage.
There isn't really much depth in this years rookie third baseman class, but Descalso is the best of the bunch.
He has good versatility and may wind up being more of a utility infielder, but for now he is the best rookie third baseman in the league.
Shortstop: Elliot Johnson
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Yes, I am picking a .188 hitter to the all-rookie team. The only rookie shortstop this year who has even been decent at the plate is Eduardo Nunez, and he has been so terrible in the field the he more than cancelled that out.
Nunez has committed 10 errors at shortstop for a .907 fielding percentage. He also has shown poor range and isn't turning enough double plays. Johnson however has only made one error and is turning the double play well, even if his range is a little below average.
At the plate he strikes out 32 percent of the time and only has 25 hits, but he's the best of a bad lot.
Left Field: Allen Craig
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Allen Craig hasn't played since a June 7 knee fracture, but he played well enough before that to still hang on to the spot in left field. Craig showed very good plate discipline, especially when drawing walks, and sports a .336/.404/.523 slash line.
He is an average fielder, and is a decent baserunner who will probably be a 15-20 steal guy if the fracture doesn't affect him long term.
Center Field: John Mayberry
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In 65 games Mayberry has been hitting very well. He is only hitting .256, but 21 of his 41 hits are for extra bases, which makes his slugging percentage a much more impressive .488. He is a decent fielder with an average arm.
He is likely to become just OK as a hitter, fielder and runner, making him an ideal backup, which is the role he has been serving.
Right Field: Josh Reddick
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In only 43 games Josh Reddick has shined with a good glove and a hot bat. He has a .338/.384/.569 slashline and 17 extra-base hits. His plate discipline has been about average, he strikes out a little more than average, but his walks are exactly on par with the league. He has good enough range to play center field, but the Red Sox have Jacoby Ellsbury, so he will most likely see more time in right.
With J.D. Drew's awful contract expiring at the end of the year, Reddick could find himself a starter next year, or later in the year when Drew's lack of production becomes intolerable during a pennant race.
Starting Pitcher: Michael Pineda
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Note: I used the fangraphs website to do my research for this project, which incorrectly lists Alexi Ogando as a rookie, despite losing rookie status last year. I have fixed this inaccuracy and apologize for not double checking my sources.
Michael Pineda won the final rotation spot out of spring training and never looked back. In 130 innings Pineda has posted a 3.53 ERA. He has 9.21 strikeouts per nine innings compared to only 2.98 walks.
With Pineda and Felix Hernandez being only 22 and 25 respectively, they could anchor the Seattle rotation for years to come.
Relief Pitcher: Craig Kimbrel
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I'm going to finish with a bold statement: Not only has Craig Kimbrel been the best rookie reliever this year, but the best reliever in all of Major League Baseball.
He may not have the best ERA (2.00), but he has an absolutely dominant 14.33 strikeouts per nine innings, while only giving up 3.50 walks per nine innings.
When a hitter is lucky enough to hit the ball it goes on the ground 42.9 percent of the time and has a very low 14.3 percent line drive rate. The only pitcher who has pitched as well as Kimbrel has done so in two-thirds as many innings.