Since I was basing this set on a non-Topps set, I was unsure whether to include a Rookie All Star Team. However, with my penchant for rookie cups, I just had to include a team. I'll be brief and just get right to the team. Much like A.J. Pollock last season, these choices are mine alone and have nothing to do with whatever players to whom Topps gives the honor.
Let's check out the best rookies from 2014.
D'Arnaud was a huge prospect but didn't really live up to his lofty expectations. Even with a slightly disappointing season, he was still the best rookie in a class that included Robinson Chirinos and Caleb Joseph. I'm sure Mets fans are hopeful that he turns in a better career than Gil who was never able to replicate his good rookie year.
Abreu was a no doubt selection. Not only was he the best rookie of all positions, but this if you take away Abreu this was the weakest position as well. Jon Singleton and C.J. Cron were the best of the rest and they both had terrible years. Even with his huge contract if Abreu continues to resemble Prince Fielder, he was a major bargain.
Second base had a lot of rookies, but none of them had really outstanding rookie years. Wong did manage to stand out a bit above the likes of Jonathan Schoop and Rougned Odor. Even though I collect rookie cups, I had never heard of Jake Wood before research this post. He was very similar to Wong, but became a utility guy after a good rookie year.
This was probably the closest battle between the slightly disappointing Castellanos, Red Sox do everything guy Brock Holt, and Yangervis Solarte of the Yankees and Padres. A late season Holt slump allowed Castellanos to pull slightly ahead in my mind in the end. Like Castellanos, Jacoby also had a slight disappointing rookie year, but became one of the better hitters of the 1980s.
Shortstop was another close battle and very similar to the third base battle in fact. In this battle you had multiple position guy Santana against disappointing top prospect Xander Bogaerts. Despite playing more time in center field than at shortstop, I felt Santana just had a better year. I was puzzled with a similar season to Santana because there hasn't been anyone completely similar to his good offense, poor defense, position change type season, but I went with Julio Franco because he was the closest and had to change to second base shortly after his rookie year.
No rookie in baseball slumped more after the All Star break than Billy Hamilton, but this honor does not go to the best rookies in August and September only. April and May count too. This was another difficult case with finding a similar season, but I went with Kenny Lofton. Lofton was a better hitter, while Hamilton was a better defender but their speed was both otherworldly.
The emergence out of nowhere of Kiermaier was one of the bigger surprises of the 2014 season. He outshone better prospects such as Jackie Bradley, Gregory Polanco, and Mookie Betts to take a spot on this team. Martinez had a good couple of seasons and then fell into place as one of the better "10th men" for the Padres in the 80's.
Springer came close to being another good prospect that fell flat in the big leagues, but his power let him hold onto the final spot in the rookie outfield. The comparison with Jay Bruce is probably one of the closest on this entire team. I'm sure the Astros would be happy if they got Bruce-like production out of Springer for the next few years.
Shoemaker was another guy that completely emerged out of nowhere to take the spot with the strongest competition. It took a couple of injuries for Shoemaker to emerge from his early season bullpen stint, but once he got there he just kept on winning finishing with a 16-4 record. He beat out guys such as Masahiro Tanaka, Yordano Ventura, Marcus Stroman, Jake Odorizzi, and Jacob deGrom to take the right-handed spot. Tom "Flash" Gordon was another rookie that started in the bullpen and then just went on a winning streak as a starter to take the cup.
Like many years the left-handed pitcher was undoubtedly the weakest position on this team. It's not that Elias was that bad, but there were between 5-10 rightys that had better seasons than him. His only real competition as a lefty was a half season of Tyler Matzek of the Rockies. At 10-12, he is the first rookie starter with a losing record to get a spot on the team since John Lannan's 9-15 season. Because of that, I figured Lannan would be the best comparison.
In choosing the team, I went with the classic lineup of one of each position player, one RHP, and one LHP. 7 out of the 10 members of this team were from American League clubs. Last season it was the opposite with National League clubs taking 8 of 10 spots on my 2013 Quarry Rookie Team. Overall, it doesn't appear that this will not be among the best Rookie All Star Teams of all time, but stranger things have happened.
Thanx for reading.