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MLB Rookie Power Rankings: Who takes top spot one month in?
Major League Baseball

MLB Rookie Power Rankings: Who takes top spot one month in?

Updated May. 1, 2024 2:37 p.m. ET

How are your preseason Rookie of the Year picks looking? 

After a full month of play, we can begin to assess which young players are making the most significant impact. 

Below are FOX Sports' first rookie power rankings of the season, which we'll continue to update after each month. 

Honorable mention: Andy Pages (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)


Pages' power has changed the look of the bottom of a Dodgers lineup that desperately needed the boost. He has earned a regular role in the outfield since his debut on April 16 by amassing a top-five slugging percentage and OPS among all rookies with at least 50 at-bats. His smaller sample size compared to other rookies on this list is really the only reason he sits outside the top 10, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him move up the charts quickly if he continues to make this kind of impact. 

10. Jacob Young (OF, Washington Nationals)

Young flies under the radar on a Nationals team teeming with top outfield prospects, but his 12 steals in 22 games this year (and 25 steals without being caught stealing since his debut last year) should start to put him on the map. Young is hitting .377 over his last 15 starts and went 8-for-16 with six steals during the Nats' four-game sweep of the Marlins this past weekend. The impact of his speed has been profound — after that sweep, Young ranked in the top three among all rookie position players in both Baseball-Reference's and FanGraphs' version of WAR — and it'll be interesting to see what the Nats do once Victor Robles is back. 

9. Jackson Merrill (OF, San Diego Padres

Merrill entered this year as one of the top shortstop prospects in baseball, but the Padres needed outfield help, so the 20-year-old debuted in center field — a position he had never played professionally after getting selected in the first round in 2021 — and joined Ken Griffey Jr. and Andruw Jones as the only players in the past 50 years to start on Opening Day in center field before turning 21. Despite playing above Double-A for the first time in his career, Merrill hasn't looked out of place on defense or at the plate, where he's consistently hitting the ball hard, rarely whiffing and is tied for the lead in hits among all rookies. While he hasn't looked quite the same since dealing with groin tightness last week, he demonstrated with a .333 batting average over his first 20 career games that he belongs. 

8. Evan Carter (OF, Texas Rangers)   

Carter's extraordinary debut last year didnt seem sustainable — he had a 1.058 OPS and MLB's lowest chase rate in 23 regular-season games, then reached base in a record 17 straight games to begin his postseason career — and the start to his follow-up campaign has been more solid than spectacular. Carter is still mashing righties this year (.869 OPS, five homers), but he's not getting on base or walking as often, and his small-sample struggles against lefties (1-for-24 with 12 strikeouts and two walks since debuting last year) have continued, which have led to him platooning. Still, there should be better days ahead for rookies Carter and Wyatt Langford in Texas. 

7. Masyn Winn (SS, St. Louis Cardinals

While Winn and his 80-grade arm make it easy to project him becoming an above-average defensive shortstop, it's his offense that has been the most pleasant surprise to begin the 2024 season. The power Wynn flashed last year at Triple-A hasn't yet carried over, but his .304 batting average and .785 OPS are a massive step forward from the .172 average and .467 OPS he had in 37 games last year. Once on base, he becomes an instant threat with his speed. Winn entered Tuesday tied for the lead in bWAR among all rookies. 

6. Michael Busch (1B, Chicago Cubs

Busch leads all Cubs players with six homers — he recorded a home run in five straight games from April 10-15 — and is tied for the lead among all rookies in the category. After jumping out to a 1.002 OPS through his first 20 games of the year, however, an elevated strikeout rate has brought him back down to earth over the past 10 days. But his ability to slug brought a crucial element to a Cubs club that desperately needed more corner infield pop, and his exceptional start alone is worthy of placement on this top 10. 

5. Wilyer Abreu (OF, Boston Red Sox

When former Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom traded catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros at the deadline in 2022 for Abreu and infielder Enmanuel Valdez, it was the latter who was the more highly regarded of the two prospects. But both of them are now up with the big-league club, and Abreu is demonstrating it's not always the elite prospects who make the greatest impacts. Abreu ranks in the top three among all rookie position players in both bWAR and fWAR. He was sensational in 28 games with the Red Sox last year (132 OPS+), and has looked just as terrific early this year (135 OPS+), hitting for both contact and power, playing strong defense in the corner outfield, stealing bases and establishing his place in the heart of the Boston order. 

4. Yoshinobu Yamamoto (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers) 

Things could only trend up for Yamamoto after his abysmal debut — and they have. Since allowing five runs in one inning against the Padres in Korea, Yamamoto has a 2.00 ERA, 35 strikeouts and five walks over his past five starts. The lack of command with his four-seamer and the amount of hard contact he has allowed have been surprising, but his ability to miss bats with his secondaries is evident. His splitter in particular has been almost untouchable, and he appears to be turning a corner. 

3. Colton Cowser (OF, Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles possess such an embarrassment of riches among their upper levels that it felt inevitable at least one of their rookies would make a significant leap forward. Cowser is taking that jump behind a more aggressive approach in the zone. Baltimore can stomach his 33.7% strikeout rate when he's running a 52.2% hard-hit rate and leading all qualified rookies in slugging, OPS and RBIs (and is also tied for the lead in homers and doubles). Cowser ranks eighth overall in OPS among all players with at least 70 plate appearances this year, though his hot start has cooled off some. 

2. Jared Jones (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

It's not a surprise that a Pirates pitcher is among the best rookies in baseball this year. It is a surprise that it's not Paul Skenes (at least not yet, as we eagerly await his arrival). Jones has drawn comparisons to Spencer Strider for a fastball/slider combo that has flummoxed opponents. He fills the zone with his high velocity, which can make him prone to homers and hard contact, but man, that Statcast page is RED. Jones has 42 strikeouts and only five walks over his first six starts, good for the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of any rookie starter, and has logged the highest whiff rate among all qualified starters this year. 

1. Shota Imanaga (SP, Chicago Cubs) 

The numbers speak for themselves. Forget just rookies: Among all MLB starters who've thrown at least 20 innings this year, Imanaga ranks first in ERA (0.98) and third in strikeout-to-walk ratio (9.33) and WHIP (0.80). Though he has allowed a homer in each of his past two starts — which was an issue at times for him in Japan — he has thus far done an excellent job limiting damage. He didn't allow a run in his first three starts, and he is the first starter since Dave Ferriss in 1945 to go 4-0 or better with a sub-1.00 ERA over his first five career games. 

Also considered: Keaton Winn (SP, San Francisco Giants), Blaze Alexander (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks), Mitchell Parker (SP, Washington Nationals), Ben Brown (SP, Chicago Cubs), Justin Slaten (RP, Boston Red Sox), Jung Hoo Lee (OF, San Francisco Giants), Max Meyer (SP, Miami Marlins), Bryan Hudson (RP, Milwaukee Brewers), Joey Ortiz (INF, Milwaukee Brewers), Jackson Chourio (OF, Milwaukee Brewers), José Buttó (SP, New York Mets), Davis Schneider (INF/OF, Toronto Blue Jays

Rowan Kavner is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the L.A. Dodgers, LA Clippers and Dallas Cowboys. An LSU grad, Rowan was born in California, grew up in Texas, then moved back to the West Coast in 2014. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner.


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