I realize I am skipping ahead in the order here, but a set from Topps Now of the 2017 Topps All-Star Rookie Team arrived, so I'm going to have a little fun with it. These guys may or may not have been selected by the Youth of America as was the case in the 1960s, but the rookies this season were impressive. Thinking back on all of the selections of years' past, I thought it might be fun to try to find some comparable players to this year's team.
Catcher - Manny Piña
Manny was a 30 year old rookie for the Brewers, which is more common than you might think when it comes to catchers. He had a decent year behind the dish as the team's primary backstop, slugging 9 homers and hitting a respectable .279 with 30 extra base hits.
For his comp, I picked Bob Geren, who had a similar journey to the majors, though he was initially a first round pick of the Padres back in 1979. Geren also had 9 homers in his rookie campaign and hit .288, playing in a total of 5 major league seasons. Geren went on to a career as a manager and coach, and was the Oakland A's skipper for 5 seasons.
First Base - Cody Bellinger
The National League Rookie of the Year smashed expectations of what a rookie could do, and he did it in style. His 39 Homers were even more impressive considering he was not called up until the end of April. In addition to playing First Base, Bellinger was able to move to the outfield and provide solid defense at all three positions.
He's listed as a second baseman, but Happ played all over the diamond for Joe Maddon, like a young man's Ben Zobrist. Happ also brought some impressive power numbers, crushing 24 homers and a .253 average.
Short Stop - Paul DeJong
Just about any other season, we'd probably be talking about Paul DeJong's ROY trophy. The Redbird's short stop hit .285 with 25 homers and was already a key contributor as a rookie to a veteran team with playoff aspirations. The team didn't quite reach their goal, but they did find their SS of the future, going as far as trading away the promising Aledmys Diaz this offseason to keep DeJong's path clear.
You can't deny that Devers made quite the impression in a small sample size this season. Like many of the players on this list, hitting homers came quite easily to Devers, who launched 10 bombs in just 58 games, including a memorable shot off Yankees relief ace Aroldis Chapman. He turned a 103 mph fastball into a laser beam heading the other direction, leaving the yard in a hurry. The real impressive number? Devers is just 20 years old.
Outfield - Aaron Judge
This guy. YIKES. I won't waste your time with tales of the longest homers, the hardest hit homers, the most homers by any rookie in the history of baseball. You already know by now. Judge was an absolute beast in 2017.
Outfield - Andrew Benintendi
Similar to DeJong in the National league, Benintendi will go down as the guy who came in second place to a runaway freight train. There's no shame in his season, which saw excellent returns at the plate along with a fearless approach to outfield defense. His sprawling catch against the short wall at Tropicana Field will be shown in highlight reels for years to come.
Geez, another guy with 20+ homers in their rookie year? Mancini played both corner outfield positions as well as spending some time at first base. His defense didn't exactly set the world on fire, but his bat more than made up for it.
Well, with all those homers, you'd expect the pitching to be a little harder to find. Marquez had a fine season, and of course pitched in the worst environment for pitchers, let alone rookies, as his home field. He had a respectable 114 ERA+, making him slightly better than league average. He didn't strike out a ton of batters, and did give up 25 homers, though 15 of those came at home in Coors Field.
It took a little research to find a righty rookie All-Star with similar numbers, but Mark Leiter had a similarly solid season in 1991 for the Tigers, sporting an ugly ERA of 4.26 (which was exactly league average that year) and a low strikeout rate. I could also have gone with another Rockie, Jason Jennings, who had a very good career in a very tough ballpark.
Jordan Montgomery was the best of a less than stellar crop of lefty rookie starters in 2017. The opposition was tough! Lots of homers and it can be very difficult for rookies to adapt to that kind of aggressive and unforgiving landscape. He gave up his share of longballs (21), but he kept traffic on the basepaths to a minimum, walking 51 in 155 innings pitched.
He only pitched 47 innings in 2017, and he wasn't the Brewers' closer at any point, but he was probably their best bullpen weapon. The lefty was devastating to opposing lineups, striking out 68 batters in those 47 frames to the tune of a 2.08 ERA.
Let me hear it in the comments if you agree or disagree with these comparisons!