Have you gotten to see the Phillies rookie center fielder Johan Rojas since his recall about a month ago?
He’s been something to watch from Day 1.
Welcome to the show, Johan Rojas?
Welcome to the Johan Rojas show.
— MLB (@MLB) July 15, 2023
Rojas was the runaway leader in Defensive Runs Saved in center field in the minor leagues. And he’s racing up that leaderboard even after just 30 games in the major leagues. He’s already saved 10 runs and is within striking distance of the MLB leaders in Runs Saved in center field, Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho, who each have 13 for the Blue Jays.
|Kevin Kiermaier||Blue Jays||13|
|Daulton Varsho||Blue Jays||13|
Rojas is a potential gamechanger for a Phillies team that has struggled defensively the last few seasons. The Phillies had -24 Runs Saved at the All-Star Break but have actually increased that total by 5 runs since then.
But Rojas isn’t the only rookie to make a prominent impact defensively for a postseason contender.
We’ve brought up a few in some of the articles we’ve written. Here’s a list of those who have been the most impressive for potential playoff teams.
Giants catcher Patrick Bailey leads everyone at that position with 15 Runs Saved. He’s been great at both pitch framing and controlling the running game. He will be a strong contender for a Fielding Bible Award.
Another catcher, Yainer Diaz of the Astros, has forced Houston’s hand a little bit, as his 4 Runs Saved are considerably better than pitching staff favorite Martín Maldonado’s -10.
We just wrote about Mariners infielder José Caballero and outfielder Cade Marlowe in an article for our website this week. Caballero has 9 Runs Saved, most of anyone on the team. Marlowe has excelled for the Mariners, contributing 7 Runs Saved to an outfield that ranks 4th in the majors in that stat.
There’s also Orioles infielders Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg. Henderson, barely rookie eligible after getting a long look last season, has 7 Runs Saved at shortstop and 2 at third base. Westburg has 6 Runs Saved at second base (and -2 at third base) since his recall two months ago.
The NL Central is loaded with talented rookie fielders. The Brewers have Joey Wiemer and Brice Turang, as well as our June Defensive Player of the Month winner, Blake Perkins. Between the 3 of them, they have 23 of the Brewers’ 46 Runs Saved. Turang ranks tied for 5th at 2nd base with 8 Runs Saved. Perkins, out with an oblique injury, has played even less than Rojas but ranks tied for 4th among right fielders with 7 Runs Saved. Overall, the Brewers rank second to the Blue Jays in Runs Saved this season.
And yes the Reds have Elly De La Cruz, but their best defender may be Matt McLain, who has split time between shortstop and second base and handled both without issue. He’s tied for the team lead with T.J. Friedl with 5 Runs Saved.
There are some big moments ahead for these players in the next 5 weeks. They’ve played like seasoned veterans so far but their biggest tests have yet to come.