Rookie Leaders: Hitters

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With the first quarter of the season in the books, it’s time to check out which rookies are leading which statistical categories, and how this may impact their Rookie of the Year chances. We start off with the hitters.

Hitters: (NL and AL

Games:

NL: 37 (Pete Kozma, Cardinals, and Jedd Gyorko, Padres)

AL: 35 (Conor Gillaspie, White Sox)

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Kozma and Gyorko are the ironmen of the National League rookie class so far, having played 37 games for the Cardinals and Padres, while Gillaspie is only two games behind. The significance of this stat pertains to service time: In order to have a true rookie season, a baseball player must have played at least 45 games. Kozma, Gyorko, and Gillaspie are on their way to breaking that mark.

Interestingly, Kozma and Gillaspie have service time from previous seasons, as Gillaspie made his Major League debut five years ago for the Giants, a mere three months after being drafted out of Wichita State, while Kozma has been in the majors since 2011. Gyorko is the only rookie of the bunch that has no prior experience in the Majors.

At-Bats:

NL: 137 (Gyorko)

AL: 112 (Aaron Hicks, Twins)

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At-Bats also determine if a rookie’s eligibility is expired. 130 AB’s constitutes a rookie season, so there’s no going back for Gyorko. Hicks, on the other hand, could be sent down to the minors right now, and his eligibility would still be intact. And considering his Triple Crown line, especially his average, he might need all the seasoning he can get.

Runs:

NL: 18 (AJ Pollock, Diamondbacks)

AL: 16 (Hicks)

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These are all the times that the player has crossed the plate. Though Hicks has a low enough batting average to question how on earth he’s managed to score that often, we’ll leave it at that.

Hits:

AL: 36 (Gyorko)

NL: 29 (Gillaspie)

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Gyorko was forced into the offense when Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin went down, and in terms of being a solid hitter, he pretty much has nailed it. Gillaspie, who has been in the Majors before, and who has the added challenge of playing in the somewhat tougher junior circuit, has pulled his weight as well.

Doubles:

NL: 14 (Pollock)

AL: 4 (Robbie Grossman, Astros, and Gillaspie)

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There seems to be a common theme among the hitters: The NL Rookies are superior to the AL Rookies. That being said, AJ Pollock, who is known for his hustle, has more than double the doubles of Gillaspie and newcomer Robbie Grossman. Fun fact: Grossman, originally a Pirates minor leaguer, was dealt in the Wandy Rodriguez deal to the Astros.

Triples:

NL: 4 (Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins)

AL: 1 (Gillaspie and Hicks)

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Adeiny Hechavarria has already been compared to Hanley Ramirez, by Hanley himself no less. It’s no surprise that he’s actually there as a speedster.

Home Runs:

NL: 7 (Evan Gattis, Braves)

AL: 3 (Gillaspie and Hicks)

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For the record, I’m not a Gillaspie or a Hicks homer, they just happen to lead the American League Rookies in these stats. Gattis, on the other hand, had a remarkable April that culminated in him being named the Rookie of the Month. He has essentially put Brian McCann on borrowed time, so it will be interesting to see how far he can go.

RBI

NL: 20 (Gattis)

AL: 15 (Hicks)

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Gattis is no surprise, considering he blew away the competition last month en route to his Award-winning month. Hicks is the surprise, although his experience plays a definite role here.

Walks:

AL: 15 (Hicks)

NL: 13 (Gyorko)

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Strikeouts:

AL: 36 (Hicks)

NL: 34 (Gyorko)

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Patience is a virtue, and a harsh mistress, as evidenced by the leaders of the previous two stats.

Stolen Bases:

NL: 5 (Pollock)

AL: 3 (Hicks)

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It’s a little early to judge, but my guess is that these two could find themselves as leadoff men sometime in the future.

Caught Stealing:

AL: 4 (Grossman)

NL: 2 (Pollock)

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Tells you something about Grossman, Pollock, on the other hand, can be waved off.

Batting Average (More than 50 At-Bats)

NL: .348 (Didi Gregorius, Diamondbacks)

AL: .293 (Gillaspie)

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If Gregorius hadn’t gotten hurt to start the year, we’d be seeing more of him in this post.

On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, and OPS:

NL: .392/594/.986 (Gregorius)

AL: .355/.444/.799 (Gillaspie)

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Based on these quarterly marks, we can guess that in the NL, it’s a pretty open field in terms of the top hitting rookie, while in the AL, it’s Gillaspie or bust.

Stay tuned for the rookie pitching leaders, coming soon.

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