MLB Rookie Report: Recapping the First Half
Every few weeks, the Rookie Report will keep you up to date on the latest comings and goings in the world of major league rookies. We aim to provide you with news and information about some of the first-time major league players who are making an impact in fantasy so far and break down the expectations for their future.
With the All-Star Break upon us, there is no better time than now to take a closer look at the top overall performers from the first half of the season.
Kris Bryant – 3B – CHC
As we hit the midway mark of the year, Bryant is the leading candidate for NL Rookie of the Year. The 23-year-old leads all rookies in runs scored, RBI, and OBP. The Cubs rookie also ranks in the top five of all rookies in virtually every other counting stat including home runs and stolen bases. An All-Star and a participant in the Home Run Derby, Bryant not only sits at the top of the list of first-timers, he is a burgeoning superstar. Despite being in the big leagues less than 90 days, he already is a top-five third baseman in all of fantasy. The hype is real, as Bryant figures to be a force in fantasy for years to come.
- 2015 stats: 286 AB, 47 R, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 8 SB, .269 AVG
Maikel Franco – 3B – PHI
In a year filled with disappointment in Philadelphia, Franco is one of the few bright spots for the Phillies’ season. Despite being called up in mid-May, the 22-year-old already ranks second on the club in batting average, runs, home runs, and RBI. The third baseman’s scorching play in June, he hit .352 with eight home runs, made it difficult for fantasy owners to keep Franco out of their lineups. His performance also showed off the massive upside that could make him an elite level corner infielder soon.
- 2015 stats: 218 AB, 31 R, 10 HR, 34 RBI, 1 SB, .284 AVG
Carlos Correa – SS – HOU
Debuting a little over a month ago, June 8, Correa has already shown all the tools necessary to be an elite fantasy shortstop for the foreseeable future. At only 20 years old, he displays great power potential highlighted by his 19.1 AB/HR rate and .507 slugging percentage, which leads all rookies. The Astros’ middle infielder is a solid five-tool player and a possible 20-20 candidate this season, despite spending the first two months in the minors. In short order, Correa has made his way close to the top of the fantasy shortstop rankings going forward for this season and beyond.
- 2015 stats: 134 AB, 18 R, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 5 SB, .276 AVG
Joc Pederson – OF – LAD
Neck and neck with Bryant for NL Rookie of the Year honors, Pederson has brought much excitement to L.A. with his tape-measure home runs. Even though he was the runner-up in the Home Run Derby and is leading all rookies with 20 home runs at the break, Pederson is much more than just a power hitter. The Dodgers’ centerfielder ranks in the top 20 of the NL in slugging, OPS, runs, and Wins over Replacement. His 58 walks not only tops the first-timers, it ranks him third in all of the National League, making him a no-brainer choice to start for the NL All-Star team at just 23 years old.
- 2015 stats: 300 AB, 46 R, 20 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB, .230 AVG
Billy Burns – OF – OAK
The rookie hit leader with 82 at the break, Burns has been a pleasant surprise in Oakland this season. Despite being a career .288 hitter in the minors, not many believed his skills would translate into a high-average hitter once he made the jump to the majors. Burns has not only proven critics wrong by being one of the more consistent rookie hitters, his .303 average ranks seventh in all of the American League. While the average is remarkable, Burns separates himself from the field in fantasy with his elite speed. The 25-year-old ranks second in the AL with 17 stolen bases, something desperately needed in 5×5 leagues.
- 2015 stats: 271 AB, 38 R, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 17 SB, .303 AVG
Yasmany Tomas – OF – ARI
Leading all rookies in batting average, Tomas has found his place as the Diamondbacks everyday right fielder. While the home run numbers are not there yet, the 24-year-old Cuban has flashed some speed as he is 5-for-7 in stolen base attempts through 70 games. Batting in the cleanup spot behind superstar Paul Goldschmidt, Tomas has cashed in on the many opportunities he has had to drive in runs, ranking fourth among all rookies in RBI. With his prime lineup spot and third base eligibility, Tomas will be a useful piece in fantasy for years to come.
- 2015 stats: 252 AB, 25 R, 5 HR, 35 RBI, 5 SB, .313 AVG
Noah Syndergaard – SP – NYM
As the top prospect in the Mets organization, Syndergaard faced lofty expectations when he arrived in the majors. After a rough four-walk debut, the 6’6″ right-hander has found his control, allowing only 10 free passes in the 60-plus innings he has pitched since May 12. It’s an incredible feat for a young hurler who is also striking out batters at a fantastic 9.8 K/9 rate. The marked improvement does not stop there. Over his last three starts, Syndergaard has been as good as advertised, as he has a 1.23 ERA and .145 batting average against over 22 innings. The 22-year-old is primed to be a fixture in the Mets rotation and fantasy lineups for the long haul.
- 2015 stats: 11 GS, 66.2 IP, 72 K, 4 Wins, 3.11 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
Lance McCullers – SP – HOU
Another one of the Astros’ emerging stars, McCullers had an unbelievable ERA of 2.16 and four wins through his first 10 starts. Buoyed by his high strikeout rate, 9.9 K/9, and low batting average against, .202, the 21-year-old has been one of the safest rookie pitchers for fantasy owners to play this season. Despite scuffling a bit in his last start, the Tampa native has been the surprising Astros No. 2 starter so far this season. If he can reign in his control, 18 walks over his last 33.1 innings, McCullers can become a dominant fantasy star for the rest of the decade.
- 2015 stats: 11 GS, 64.1 IP, 71 K, 4 Wins, 2.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
Chris Heston – SP – SF
Heston has been a starter in the Giants rotation since the beginning of the season due to Matt Cain‘s injury. The 27-year-old was poised to lose his spot when Cain returned, as he was mediocre at best, earning a 4.29 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in his first 11 starts of the season. But since tossing a no-hitter on June 9, Heston has blossomed into a valuable fantasy commodity. In his last seven starts, the right-hander owns a 2.12 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP and has locked in his spot as the Giants No. 3 starter for the remainder of the year.
- 2015 stats: 18 GS, 111.2 IP, 89 K, 9 Wins, 3.39 ERA, 1.20 WHIP