Despite possibly being the NL Rookie of the Year in 2020, San Diego Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth is still underappreciated.
As Jim Callis points out in this article, he was thought to be the least of the four players involved in that trade with the Rays despite being the player of the year in Triple-A.
I had heard so many good things about Cronenworth from scouts and prospect junkies after that trade that I knew there had to be something special about him.
He proved himself during spring training and once the season finally began that he’s now the future second baseman for the team.
Through 50 games he’s slashing .304/.376/.509 with 1.7 WAR, according to FanGraphs.
He’s been the frontrunner to win the NL Rookie of the Year award all year and should probably still win it. But I think there has been some fatigue with him being the frontrunner all year that people are starting to find other names that could overtake him like Dustin May, Devin Williams, and Alec Bohm.
But I still think what Jake has done over the course of the entire season makes him worthy of the award.
Going back to the Jim Callis article I linked above, he ranked the future value of each rookie in the 2020 season. Keep in mind, this is only a list of players who have graduated from prospect status.
In that list he ranks Cronenworth 15th, again, even though he’s been one of the best rookies in 2020.
The list is basically a ranking of prospects who were in their preseason top 100. Only Cronenworth, Kyle Lewis, and Tony Gonsolin are among the top 15 who weren’t top 100 prospects coming into the season.
And Lewis was a top 100 prospect before the injuries hurt his prospect status.
Listening to Callis’ reasoning on the MLB Pipeline podcast, he basically says we’ve seen the best of Cronenworth — meaning it’s only downhill from here for him in his estimation.
He also says that his age is another reason why he was ranked so low despite being one of the best rookies this season.
I can certainly understand thinking that Cronenworth’s numbers this season are probably above what his career average will be, but to think we won’t see two-month streaks like this from Cronenworth again is a bit absurd.
Over a full season, I still think Cronenworth puts up above-average numbers and is better than most of the people on this list.