Corbin Carroll has taken home the 2023 Rookie of the Year award. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ outfielder, far and away, had a better season than either Kodai Senga or Josh Outman. While Carroll’s season was obviously excellent, it was one of the best in baseball history for a rookie.
Carroll finished out his first full big league season with a .285/362/.506 triple-slash. The outfielder had both an above-average 8.8% walk rate and a 19.4% strikeout rate, but his power/speed combo was unparalleled by nearly all players. Carroll stole 54 bases while smacking 25 home runs with a .221 isolated slugging percentage. Carroll’s offensive contributions came to a .370 wOBA and 133 wRC+.
The Rookie Of The Year was awarded to both leagues for the first time in 1954. While Vince Coleman still has the most stolen bases for a rookie since then, Carroll was the most valuable base runner with +15.4 baserunning runs, per FanGraphs’ measurement. But even then, Carroll is still just one of 21 rookies since ‘54 to take 50+ bases in their rookie year.
In terms of overall value, Carroll had +6.0 fWAR. That is tied with Ichiro Suzuki for the 14th most by a position player rookie since ‘54. That outpaces some terrific rookie seasons. Both Jose Abreu and Corey Seager finished in the top four in MVP voting in their rookie campaigns, yet Carroll outpaces both in fWAR. Mark McGwire’s 49 home run season in 1987 also falls behind Carroll’s 2023. Middle infielders Troy Tulowitzki and Joe Morgan, both of whom had great rookie seasons, did not match Carroll’s overall value. Carroll is also within a half-win of Kris Bryant’s 2015 season and Nomar Garciaparra’s 1997 campaign.
Carroll was, of course, the first rookie to steal at least 50 bases with 25 or more home runs. Very few have been able to come close to that combination of power and speed in their rookie year. Mike Trout came within one stolen base, with 30 homers and 49 stolen bases in 2012. Tommy Agee was also close, with 22 dingers and 44 stolen bases in 1966. On top of that, Carroll is the only rookie to steal 50+ bases with more than 20 home runs since ‘54. Hanley Ramirez has the second most home runs for a rookie who stole 50 or more bags, and he still fell three short of the 50/20 club with 17 dingers.
It's extremely rare in general for a player to hit 20 home runs and steal 50 bases, regardless if they're a rookie or not. It has been accomplished just 21 times in baseball history. A 20/50 season is more rare than a perfect game. Carroll, along with Ronald Acuna Jr. were the first ones to accomlish this since Hanley Ramirez and Eric Byrnes in 2007, and they're the only ones to accomplish this since the start of the 2000s.
It's a forgone conclusion that Carroll's rookie year was the best in franchise history, and by a Grand Canyon-sized margin. No other rookie in D-Backs history has ever posted a wRC+ of even 120 in 300+ plate appearances, let alone 133. The second most fWAR a D-Backs rookie position player has ever put up is 3.2, which Carroll nearly doubles. Chris Young in 2007 (32) and Christian Walker in 2019 (29) still hit more home runs, but Carroll sits right behind both. Young (27) and Jake McCarthy in '22 (23) are the only D-Backs rookies with at least 20 stolen bases. Carroll also nearly doubles both.
Carroll’s 2023 rookie season was phenomenal, but it was also historically good. Nearly no other rookie has ever come close to his unparalleled ability to be a power/speed threat at the plate and on the basepaths. Everyone will be looking forward to what Carroll can do in his encore season in 2024.