Welcome to the first edition of theScore's 2021 MLB Rookie of the Year rankings. It's early yet, but there's never a bad time to take a peek at which first-year players are already impressing.
5. Adolis Garcia, Rangers
Garcia, who's struck out in 32% of his plate appearances while walking 5.3% of the time, is a bit of a free swinger. But when he's made contact, he's done damage. The Rangers rookie is one of three first-year players with five home runs and is among the leaders in RBIs.
4. Garrett Whitlock, Red Sox
What a find. The Red Sox selected Whitlock from Yankees in the most recent Rule 5 draft, and if he maintains his current play, he'll have earned his spot on the roster for the duration of the 2021 campaign and beyond. What's more, he's not a typical reliever; he's been deployed for multiple innings at a time in most of his appearances. He's a bullpen arm for now, but there's a chance he becomes a fixture in Boston's rotation down the road.
3. Emmanuel Clase, Indians
The Indians have given Clase the ninth-inning reins, and he hasn't looked back. The 23-year-old has yet to allow a run after throwing his most recent scoreless frame Sunday against the division-rival White Sox. He and fellow right-hander James Karinchak have combined to hold opponents off the scoreboard over 24 innings, forming a formidable late-inning combo for Cleveland.
2. Michael Kopech, White Sox
Kopech entered the year as a reliever, but he's made a couple of starts for the White Sox due to injuries. Whatever the role, Kopech has shown why he's been so highly touted for what feels like forever. He struck out 10 Rangers batters without issuing a walk over five innings of one-run ball in his most dominant showing thus far.
1. Yermin Mercedes, White Sox
Almost every year, a rookie seemingly comes out of nowhere to take the league by storm. So far, that mantle belongs to Mercedes, who kicked off the season with hits in eight straight at-bats for the White Sox. He's helped fill the void left by injured outfielder Eloy Jimenez, and it's not a lock that he's due for a fall. Mercedes consistently hit well in the minors, culminating in a .317/.388/.581 slash line with 23 homers in a 2019 season split between Double- and Triple-A.
Honorable mention: Randy Arozarena, Rays; Cole Irvin, A's; Nick Madrigal, White Sox; Andrew Vaughn, White Sox; Akil Baddoo, Tigers
5. Dom Nunez, Rockies
Nunez has taken hold of the Rockies' starting job at catcher and is tied for the MLB lead in home runs by qualified rookies. The 26-year-old's .923 OPS is second among first-year NL players behind only injured Marlins infielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. Nunez mashed his first career grand slam Saturday, and his power has so far made his 41% strikeout rate a little easier to swallow.
4. Ian Anderson, Braves
A rough outing Sunday against the Blue Jays prevented Anderson from climbing the ladder. The Braves righty allowed four runs on six hits while walking two and striking out five over four innings in his shortest start of the season. It was a slight step down from consecutive scoreless outings against the Yankees and Cubs, the latter of which saw him allow only two baserunners over seven innings.
3. Dylan Carlson, Cardinals
Carlson was the Cardinals' best on-base threat in April, quickly washing away any lingering aftertaste from his underwhelming debut last summer. The power hasn't consistently emerged, but the switch-hitter already showcases excellent patience at the plate and has earned his promotion to the upper third of St. Louis' batting lineup.
2. Trevor Rogers, Marlins
A three-run home run off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman spoiled what was otherwise another impressive outing for Rogers on Sunday. The 23-year-old southpaw still struck out six Nationals hitters over five innings and had allowed just two earned runs over his previous four starts, three of which were of the scoreless variety. With fellow rookie hurler Sixto Sanchez on the shelf, Rogers has more than filled the void in the Marlins' rotation.
1. Jazz Chisholm Jr., Marlins
He's fast, he's brash, and he's incredibly fun to watch. Chisholm may be on the IL, but that doesn't change how exciting and productive the speedy infielder was before straining his hamstring. Stolen bases are becoming increasingly rare, but Chisholm has showcased an ability to run wild while also flexing his muscle, and a 30-30 season seems to be within his grasp. If he doesn't miss too much time, he could still run all the way to the NL's top rookie prize.
Honorable mention: Tyler Stephenson, Reds; Tyrone Taylor, Brewers; Nick Maton, Phillies; Pavin Smith, D-Backs; Huascar Ynoa, Braves