Everyone’s taking a break except for the few disinterested chaps playing in the All-Star game, so let’s take stock of where we stand with our rookie player tracking project – Smells Like Pujols. Check out the featured players and their Similarity Scores in the right-hand sidebar.
So far this season, Hunter Pence has smelled
the most almost the most like Rookie Pujols. I don’t know why the Astros had this kid start the season in the minors, because he is definitely pro quality. Most SLP phenoms have a few good weeks and then their averages and power numbers fall off to human levels. Not Pence. He’s raking and blooping on a Pujolsian pace.
UPDATE: Why did I have to do the old mea culpa strikethrough in the paragraph above? Because I missed Ryan Braun, that’s why. The peerless Adam from Bugs & Cranks pointed out Brewer Braun’s incredible numbers, which rank him above Pence at a very Albertesque score of 988. I had Braun on my early season list, and forgot to add him back on when he made the big club. Poop.
The #2 place on the list will seem like kind of a stunt, and I guess it is. I wrote about Mike Fontenot of the Cubs just last week, at the request of Jack Cobra, and that coincided pretty neatly with Fontenot’s reaching the 100 AB plateau. Since Fontenot is playing out of his mind right now, he’s ranked pretty high, but he will most likely finish out of the running due to his late start on the season. Still. Hell of a fun player.
There’s a pretty significant dropoff after that. In the 800 point Similarity Scores range are Josh Hamilton, Dustin Pedroia, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Troy Tulowitzki, and Akinori Iwamura. I think I just sprained a couple of digits typing those names. Hamilton has bashed 14 homers, but his average keeps him humble. Pedroia started the season in a pit and worked his way out, so he’s on the rise. Salty (I’m not typing it again), hasn’t played all season, so his numbers are inflated by his low number of ABs, but he’s still playing well for a rook. Tulo is a defensive whiz and has played pretty consistently all year, hitting nine homers and crossing home plate 50 times in Coors. Finally, Akinori Iwamura started the season well, but missed time due to injury and is trying to catch up.
Of the guys in the 700 Club, only the Youngs are credible threats to rejoin the elite. Delmon (Tampa) has put together some amazing runs this year, but the relative weakness of the Devil Rays lineup is holding him back from his true potential. Chris B. Young (no relation) is displaying the vaunted five tools in a similar losing cause in Arizona. Either player is good enough to be mentioned in the ROY debate, however.
Kansas City has an overachiever in Tony Pena, Jr. and an underachiever in Alex Gordon, though Gordon at least has the excuse of being rushed to the majors to fall back on. Kouzmanoff and Montero are nice players who are developing well, but are unlikely to challenge the 2001 version of El Rey Pujols this season.
At some point, perhaps a month from now, I’ll have to cut this down to the true contenders. Some of these guys are fun to track, but have less than half as many at-bats as their fellows. The players who have been with their respective teams since day one are certainly more realistic avatars of Pujolsian virtue.
For now, though, these are your rookie phenoms. I will be interested to see if my little metric does a fairly accurate job of predicting the offensive ROY for each league.