Rookie of the Year races are hard to preview ahead of each MLB season, and even a month into a campaign, you still don't have a firm grasp of who will be in the running.
Some of the rookies off to hot starts will fade and perhaps even end up back in the minors for fine-tuning. Other entrants to this derby are in the minors now but will be in the conversation in due time. A player's status as a prospect is only very loosely correlated with the awards race. In many seasons, sheer opportunity is as important as talent and long-term ceiling.
At the same time, we've seen a number of rookies hold down key roles on their teams, some of them among the top clubs in baseball. In fact, according to my team rookie metric, based on consensus WAR figures, the top five teams in rookie production are all contenders:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (1.17 rookie WAR)
2. New York Yankees (1.13)
3. Houston Astros (1.07)
4. Milwaukee Brewers (0.96)
5. Baltimore Orioles (0.92)
With that in mind, let's look at some of the early leading candidates through the prism of AXE, my awards rating that creates a consensus index based on Baseball Reference WAR, Fangraphs WAR and win probability metrics. The average is 100. Today we're going to zero in on the rookies who have AXE ratings better than 100, while touching on a few who might get there before too long.
These races might -- and probably will -- look very different a month from now, much less by the end of the season. For now, based on what we've seen so far, these are the rookies making the most impact.