Is Josh Jung the hottest rookie in MLB?
As the 2023 MLB season enters that critical middle phase, two things are surprising. The Texas Rangers run in the AL West and the amazing play of Josh Jung.
The 2023 MLB baseball season is now entering its second full month, leaving the awkward starting phase behind and entering the second, all-too-critical part of the season. Much will be set up in the next two months as we head to the All Star break, before the final stretch into the playoffs.
Teams can get off to a great start, or stall horrendously, and not suffer too much by it. Any mistakes can be corrected at this stage and any success can fall by the wayside. You have only to look at last season’s Mets or 2021′s Braves to know that both of these statements are true.
Nevertheless, there are a few trends which are interesting, if not entirely telling just yet. One is the run that the Texas Rangers are on in the AL West. It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is solid, seeing Texas with a two-and-a-half-game lead at the top of the division. And for the Rangers, that is already feeling like success.
Their pitching rotation is stellar and that gold-plated middle infield is finally looking as if it will pay dividends, but a key member of the Rangers’ success has been Josh Jung.
Jung, the 25-year old third baseman taken in the first round back in 2019 out of Texas Tech, was called up at the end of last season. He won the starting job in spring training and has been on fire.
Named American League Rookie of the Month for April, he is currently the odds-on favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year award. He is slashing .260/.313/.481 with a .793 OPS and eight home runs and 24 RBIs through 116 plate appearances.
The competition is stiff and players like Anthony Volpe and Masataka Yoshida are having a great start to their season, but none of other rookies in the league have managed to turn their clubs fortunes around like Jung has. He is quite simply dazzling to watch.
It will be intriguing to see if he can maintain consistency through the next phase of the season, the lead into the dog days, and then out the critical back end of the season. The Rangers themselves will have to prove that they can stay competitive through the long hot summer, and if their young third baseman stays on course, he could run away with the AL Rookie of the Year Award, and it won’t even be close.