When MLB.com's reporters made predictions for 2017, this is how the Rookie of the Year votes went:
American League: Boston's Andrew Benintendi got 30 of 48 votes, and Chicago's Yoan Moncada (12), who is not yet in the bigs, was only other guy who got more than one.
National League: Dansby Swanson got 41 of 48 votes, and San Diego's Hunter Renfroe (4) was the only other guy who got more than one.
This is what's known as consensus. Benintendi, with a .322/.397/.441 slash so far, is doing all he can to back up that belief. Swanson, who was eligible for rookie status by a mere two at-bats, is off to a slower start in Atlanta, but a walk-off hit the other night was at least some good mental mojo for a player enduring the inevitable league adjustments.
As is the case each year, the counter to consensus is baseball's ever-present element of surprise. And though it's far too early to make sweeping judgments about anything we've seen, there are a bunch of rookies who have made a surprising amount of impact in the early going.
Though the list is sure to evolve in the coming weeks and months, here are 10 who have stood out so far.
Mitch Haniger, RF, Mariners
Jean Segura was the headline acquisition of a Thanksgiving Eve trade the M's made with the D-backs, but Haniger was considered just as important to them. He had an impressive .321/.419/.581 slash with 25 homers between Double-A and Triple-A last year and hit five homers in 34 games in a small big league sample in Arizona, but, at 26, he was old by prospect standards and it was hard to know what to make or expect of him given the hitter-friendly tracks of the Pacific Coast League and the injuries that have impacted his development.
Nevertheless, Seattle handed him the right-field job, and Haniger responded with an encouraging spring and, now, a strong start to 2017. In his first 16 games, he had four homers, five doubles, 11 walks and two stolen bases, all while providing excellent defense, such as this robbery of a would-be Joey Gallo home run.
Antonio Senzatela, RHP, Rockies
Who knows if his breakout spring camp would have been rewarded with a rotation spot had the Rockies not received that awful news about Chad Bettis' cancer recurrence? All we know is that the 22-year-old Senzatela has been Colorado's best starter in the early going, with a 2.37 ERA and sparkling 0.95 WHIP through 19 innings over three starts.
Control is the key here. Senzatela has walked just four batters while striking out 14. And his Minor League track record, in which he walked just 2.0 batters per nine, speaks to this not being a fluke. Extra baserunners are, as you might have noticed, a bad thing in Coors Field, so Senzatela's ability to limit them is essential. He's only had one start a mile high, and it came against the Padres. So we'll see how he adjusts as the season rolls along. But the kid's a big part of what has been a really strong start for the Rockies, given some adverse roster circumstances.
Kyle Freeland's another Rox rotation rookie who could make major strides this season.
Trey Mancini, 1B/OF/DH, Orioles
Our own Michael Klopman wrote more in-depth about Mancini's big impact in limited playing time going back to last September, but the key piece of historical minutia is that he became only the third player since 1913 to hit seven home runs in his first 12 Major League games. His long swing led to some contact issues in the Minors, though a change in his trajectory after consultation from O's vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson seems to have helped him untap his raw power more consistently.
Unfortunately, Mancini's a man without a position because of the re-signing of Mark Trumbo, so he's been used sporadically as a pinch-hitter, corner outfielder, DH and first baseman so far.
Manny Pina, C, Brewers
Old rookies are all the rage in Milwaukee. Last year, it was 31-year-old starter Junior Guerra, and this year it's co-catcher Pina, who shares time with Jett Bandy but has had an outsized impact in limited time. In his first nine games, Pina went 13-for-30 with six doubles. Not sustainable but also not bad, considering Pina had logged 793 games in the Minors and just 38 in the Majors before winning a job on an Opening Day roster for the very first time.
"If you see a guy that's spent that much time in the Minor Leagues and gets an opportunity and takes advantage of an opportunity," manager Craig Counsell told reporters, "you have a lot of respect for that."
Aaron Judge, RF, Yankees
The concern with Judge going into this season was that he's just too darn big (6-foot-7, 282 pounds) to succeed. Judge is just the 14th position player of 6-foot-7 or taller in history, per Baseball Reference's Play Index, and Frank Howard, Richie Sexson and Tony Clark are the only three to have what can be considered a significant big-league career. Big-league pitchers did a good job exploiting the holes in Judge's swing and his sizable strike zone last year, as he racked up K's in 44.2 percent of his 95 plate appearances.
Those long-term concerns will linger until the sample size grows larger, but Judge is off to a very encouraging start. The strikeout rate (28.3) is still large, but so is the improvement (his contact rate has risen from 60.2 percent to 71.3), and Judge made it worth the Yankees' while with five homers, a double and triple in his first 13 games. As of this writing, his average exit velocity, per Statcast™, is 94.6 mph -- the ninth-highest in the game. And his epic, 116-mph, 448-foot blast Wednesday night was the hardest-hit homer at Yankee Stadium in the Statcast™ era.
If he can continue to couple the raw strength with improved contact, Judge could join some rare, tall company.
Amir Garrett, LHP, Reds
Garrett turns 25 next month, but he's still pretty young and raw in baseball terms, having signed with the Reds in 2011 with an agreement that he could continue his collegiate basketball career at St. John's. Now that he's done dunking on dudes, Garrett is an athletic, 6-foot-5, 228-pound presence on the Major League mound, even if his raw velocity isn't eye-popping.
He could have his challenges moving forward as he continues to try to corral his big body into a repeatable delivery and hone in on his changeup command. But in a Reds rotation that has been ravaged by injuries, Garrett's first three starts have been a revelation. He's allowed just four runs on 14 hits with three walks and 21 strikeouts (including 12 on Wednesday night vs. the Orioles) in 19 2/3 innings. He's a huge element of this club's shockingly solid start.
Matt Davidson, DH, White Sox
With his first four hits this season, Davidson hit for the cycle. Well, OK, it was scattered over the course of four games, but that was still a positive start for the 26-year-old former "third baseman of the future," who, at this point, is just trying to stick with his stick. He's not exactly a Moncada-level cornerstone of the future on the South Side, but he was showing signs of life after swing changes in Triple-A last year, before a fractured foot ended that season.
With the White Sox in full rebuild, Davidson has gotten an early opportunity and came through with five extra-base hits in his first 11 games, including this go-ahead homer in Minnesota last week. There's a possibility for a more pronounced role should Todd Frazier be dealt this summer.
Albert Almora Jr., CF, Cubs
You figured Almora, in his first full season, would do nothing to detract from the defensive prowess that was so important for the Cubs last season, and he confirmed as much on the second day of the season, when he robbed Matt Adams of a would-be game-tying home run and last week, when he served as Corey Seager's personal nemesis.
But Almora has also built on last year's small sample of good contact and decent power with some major offensive contributions early on. His two-run, pinch-hit single against the Brewers on Tuesday was part of a .421/.476/.526 slash in his first 22 trips to the plate. The Cubs love Almora and veteran Jon Jay as a center-field tandem, and they've both been terrific early on.
Jose Martinez, OF, Cardinals
Another example of a guy maximizing a limited -- and, in this case, unexpected -- opportunity. Martinez, at 28 years young and with 887 Minor League games to his name, beat out Tommy Pham with a big spring in which he not only raked but acquitted himself well at first base. Now he's been one of the very few positive for this Cards club in the early going, contributing as a pinch-hitter and fill-in at first and right with a .450/.552/.550 slash in his first 23 plate appearances.
One would assume that a more regular role in the starting lineup would expose Martinez, but he is part of the growing legion of ballplayers embracing the "ground balls suck" approach and that, combined with some increased confidence, is helping him so far.
Jose Leclerc, RHP, Rangers
Sam Dyson's horrifying start (three blown saves, 27.00 ERA in 4 1/3 innings) is the big story out of the Rangers' bullpen, but the early optimism associated with Leclerc takes away some of that agitation. Leclerc was thrust into a situation last week in which he had to retire Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in a 6-3 game with a runner on second and one out. It took him just four pitches to do the job, then he finished it off in the ninth for his first save.
"It was one of those moments that we watched him grow up before our very eyes," manager Jeff Banister told reporters.
In his first 6 1/3 innings this season, Leclerc used his 97 mph fastball and changeup combo to strike out 10 batters, while allowing five hits and walking none. Dyson probably pitched himself out of the closer role, but you wonder if Leclerc might eventually pitch himself into it.
Anthony Castrovince is a Sports on Earth contributor, MLB.com columnist and MLB Network contributor. Follow him on Twitter @Castrovince.