Rookies & Surprise Players of 2017

After the 2016 MLB season, the boys at Clutch Baseball ran the numbers. Rookie players Aaron Judge and Andrew Benintendi were two names we rushed to check out. To our dismay, both cards were disappointing to say the least. Judge, who batted .179 with a 50% strikeout rate, would have had a salary of less than 100. Benintendi, despite holding his own last year, still hadn’t given us a large enough sample size to give him his rookie card. Man are we happy we waited.

Even though we all knew Judge had Stanton-esque power, I doubt many ever dreamt Aaron would be contending for the American League Triple Crown! His 1.162 OPS is absolutely ridiculous. To put it in perspective, Barry Bonds didn’t have an OPS higher than that until his 2001 season (age 36) when he hit 73 homeruns breaking Mark McGwire’s record. If the season ended today, Judge’s on-base percentage of .448 would only trail Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, George Selkirk, and Lou Gehrig in a full single-season for the Yankees. It may be too early to say this, but Judge may put up Votto/Trout like on-base numbers. Could Aaron Judge become too expensive for your Clutch team?!

Andrew Benintendi has obviously been overshadowed by Aaron Judge this year, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that he leads the Red Sox in RBI’s (38), and is tied for the team lead in homeruns (9) as a 22 year old sophomore in the MLB. Additionally, he only trails Mookie Betts (11) in stole

n bases with (8). As of today, the Red Sox stand at 36-28 trailing the Yankees by only 3 games. All it could take is one hot week, and Benintendi could be the best player AL East leading Boston Red Sox. Look out for this hot card in our Mid-Season Set!

Reigning supreme in the dumpster fire that is the NL East is the Washington Nationals, who are cruising with a 9.5 game lead at 39-25. I think all of us here at the Clutch team would have been last to predict that Ryan Zimmerman would be leading the way with an obscene .372 batting average. Zimmerman was so bad the last two seasons, he managed to have the second lowest salary in all of Clutch Baseball. Last year Zimm hit .218 with an abysmal .272 on-base percentage. To add fuel to the fire, Zimmerman had the worst possible Clutch in the game at -3. We’re guessing next time you use a Ryan Zimmerman card it’ll be in your starting lineup, and not on the bench.

In 2017, we have seen the resurrection of 2011 NL hits champion Starlin Castro. Last year, Castro was traded for Adam Warren (since returned to the Yankees under the Chapman trade) putting up a solid batting average, below average on-base percentage, and some 21 homer pop. It still wasn’t enough to make up for his well below-average 2015 campaign as a Cub, giving Starlin the third lowest salary in all of Clutch Baseball. Surprisingly, Starlin has shown flashbacks of 2011 and is top 5 in the AL in batting average, hits, and runs. He only trails Corey Dickerson (86) in hits with (81). Not only does Castro want a foil card next year, he wants to spice it up with some icons.

Okay, so maybe some of these guys shouldn’t come as a SHOCK that they are doing well. But what if I told you that Logan Morrison, Scott Schebler, and Justin Smoak were all in line to receive HR icons?! Sound crazy? Well Joey Gallo, Mike Moustakas, Cody Bellinger, and Jay Bruce are only 1 HR behind! The MLB season is certainly off to many unexpected starts and there are still plenty more players to talk about. Look out for our Mid-Season Set where we’ll introduce more players to the game that didn’t make the cut for the original 2017 roster.

Sean Norberg

Co-Creator of Clutch Baseball. Grew up on Long Island, NY. Life-long Yankee fan, teacher, and coach. Used to make his own cards as a kid with index cards, and aluminum foil for holographic cards.

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