2016 Rookies Reign Supreme in Opening Week

The first complete week of games for the 2016 MLB season has brought some surprising occurrences. Plenty of players have gotten off to fast starts, but few compare to what Trevor Story and many of the other 2016 rookies have done after just one week of baseball. The Colorado Rockies shortstop has hit seven home runs in the first six games of his big league career, putting up stats the likes of which have never been seen before.

With his home run on Sunday, Story became the first player in history to homer seven times in the first six games of the season. Larry Walker, Mike Schmidt, and Willie Mays all hit six home runs in six games. Story is also the first player to average at least one long ball per game for the season’s first week in nineteen years. Although there is no official index of Rookie of the Year standing as the season progresses, it would be obvious to call Trevor Story the leader in the National League after the season’s first week.

In the American League, a new contender has entered the equation this week: Nomar Mazara. He might very well be the most exciting piece of the Texas Rangers position-player stash. After a strong spring showing, all he needed was an opportunity. That opportunity arrived in the form of Shin-Soo Choo’s strained calf, which will keep Choo out four to six weeks. Mazara made his big league debut against the Angels on Sunday at 20-years-old, making him the youngest player in the majors right now.

Rangers manager Jeff Bannister batted Mazara second in his debut, a testament to the organization’s belief in his ability. He did not disappoint, and responded with a three-hit day, which included a solo-homer off Jered Weaver. The Rangers moved him aggressively through their minor league system and then straight to the bigs, seeming more concerned about his advanced approach in the the lineup rather than his time served in Double-A or Triple-A. Mazara has very quick hands, a sharp eye, and decent power. He’s also a good defender. It will be interesting to see what he does with this sudden shot in the everyday lineup.

Let’s not forget this outstanding rookie: Tyler White. The Houston Astros first basemen went 2-for-4 with a single and double in Houston’s 8-2 win over Kansas City on Monday. Lost in the awe-inspiring spectacle of home runs that was Trevor Story’s first week in the majors, White also had a fairy-tale debut, joining Story in winning Player of the Week honors as they became the first pair of rookies to win the award in the season’s opening week.

What’s even more impressive is that White has actually out-hit Story so far. White is hitting .545/.577/1.091, compared to Story’s .333/.357/1.111 line. He hit .311 in the minors with more walks than strikeouts. In spring training, he beat out A.J. Reed, Jon Singleton and Matt Duffy to win the job vacated by Chris Carter’s departure. White has shown some good patience for a rookie, not being too aggressive or expanding the strike zone. The biggest thing is his ability to get the ball in the air, which explains why six of his twelve hits have been for extra bases. The MLB average for ground ball percentage stands at 43.3%, while White’s average is a staggering 26.3%. Tyler White is another young face that has many fans and analyst begging the question, “who is this guy?”

The newest pool of rookie talent is starting to intrigue analysts and casual fans alike. Players like Bryce Harper, who won the NL Rookie of the Year Award (2012), and Carlos Correa, who won the AL Rookie of the Year Award (2015), have shown an exciting trend in baseball. Young talent is blossoming at the Major League level, something that the game of baseball benefits from greatly. Each season fosters a chance to unveil the newest crop of superstars on the national stage.

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