Rookies, everyone wants them. Shiny. New. Potential. That’s what most think.

I think – danger, caution, trepidation.

No one agrees with me.

Damn the data.

Damn being smart.

Damn being smart. Wait, I already said that.

You see a hot girl at the bar. You know she’s a whore. You don’t care. She’s hot. You’ll deal with the doctor’s visit next week. That’s how I feel many people look at rookies each year. It doesn’t matter how little sense it makes to roster rookies (or bang that whore), people are still going to do it, and do it with gusto (more on rostering rookies at the bottom of this piece).

Here are the rookie efforts of some of the best in the game.

Mike Trout hit .220 with a .672 OPS over 40 games

Justin Upton hit .221 with a .647 OPS over 43 games

Michael Brantley had a .623 OPS over 72 games

Jose Bautista hit .190 with no homers over his first 75 games

Clayton Kershaw had a 4.26 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over 107.2 innings

Any of that scintillating? Nope.

What about last season? Here’s a look at the 2015 rookies, a random top-20 list and their rates of success in three main categories: Hit (a fantasy performer or note), Pass (replacement level stuff) and Miss (it’s obvious what this one means).














Of the 20 total rookies:

Five Hit. Four Passed. Eleven Missed

What about 2014?














Of the 20 total rookies:

Two Hit. Five Passed. Thirteen Missed

Finally, 2013.














Of the 20 total rookies:

Three Hit. Four Passed. Thirteen Missed

Let’s total everything up.

Over the last three years, the top-20 rookies each year, leads me to 60 players in this study. Of that list, here are the final totals.

60 players

10 HIT



To say it another way.

Over the last three years the Top-20 options have returned a “hit,” i.e. a truly legitimate fantasy season, 16.7 percent of the time. Those rookies who were solid, replacement level types, were 21.7 percent of the players. As for those who missed, that was 61.6 percent of the time. To say it another way…

62 percent of the top level rookies, the last three years, have failed.

We can all point to the players who hit, the guys who won us championships, but the fact is that the majority of the time the players fail. Not that they are ok and playable, they fail. Even if we add in those that are playable we’re left with the inescapable fact that 83 percent of the time the past three years rookies were just blah or failed.

Am I suggesting you don’t draft rookies? No, not at all. Some thoughts on that, so the Twittterverse doesn’t start spouting half of what I said assuming they can fill in the other half with words/thoughts I’ve never shared:

  • You can draft rookies.
  • There’s a difference between rostering rookies and counting on rookies.
  • Paying big money, or spending early selections on rookies is a risk. Remember this: R&R = rookies are risks.
  • Drafting a rookie is fine. Drafting three rookies – not so much unless you’re in a league specific scenario, a dynasty/keeper league or some league where you draft 40-50 players. Ask yourself. How many times have you drafted a rookie only to drop him mid-May when injuries hit? It’s not often that you can roster a rookie on draft day and just wait three or four months for that player to be called up.
  • Rookies are called up more frequently than they used to be, and earlier than they used to be. That should be factored in to how you handle rookies, but don’t forget everything that you’ve read above.