The end of the 2022 Major League Baseball season is quickly approaching, with about six weeks left. Rookie of the Year is often the hardest to project because of the disparity in games played due to varying call-up times. It is also the only award where pitchers and hitters are not separated.
That does not appear to be the case in the MLB American League in 2022. Seattle Mariners MLB outfielder Julio Rodriguez is the prohibitive favorite as he had a fantastic three-month stretch between May 1 and July 30. However, Cleveland’s left fielder Steven Kwan has been outstanding since the beginning of June and has made the race at least competitive (all stats thru August 21).
1.Julio Rodriguez, Mariners, .274, 19 HR,62 R, 23 SBs 63 RBI .804 OPS
After struggling through his first 20 MLB games, the 21-year-old center fielder took off in May, showcasing his dazzling power, speed, and defense. Rodriguez hit .309 with six home runs, four doubles, 17 MLB RBI, and five stolen bases and hadn’t slowed down until recently. He has yet to regain his power since returning from injury after missing the M’s first 11 games though Rodriguez appears to be breaking out from the slump.
However, Rodriguez is 10-for-25 over the last five games with one double, one triple, one home run, and two RBI. The 2022 all-star leads AL rookies in most categories and ranks in the top 50 in the league in batting average, WAR (10th), homers, stolen bases, and RBI.
2. Steven Kwan, Guardians .301, 3 HR, 62 R, 32 RBI, .769 OPS
Kwan has been on-fire since June 1. The 24-year-old left-fielder, on a seven-game hitting streak, has hit everywhere and against everyone as he does not strike out. He also has hit over .300 in four of the first five months and does steal some bases.
The 2022 AL Rookie of the Month for April ranks in the top 10 in the league in batting average, triples, and on-base percentage. Defensively. Kwan has graded out well in range-factor but has committed four errors.
3. Joe Ryan, Twins 9-6, 3.86 ERA, 1.13 WHIP
Ryan, who made five starts in 2021, has been arguably the best rookie pitcher in the MLB AL this season. The 26-year-old right-hander was excellent in the first few months of the campaign. But he has struggled since June, reaching the seventh inning just once, and has had two awful performances over the last couple of months.
Ryan did throw well against the Rangers last night in the Twins’ 7-0 loss as he gave up just two runs and two hits while striking out six over six and two-third winnings. It was the second straight game he has permitted two runs and the sixth time in the last nine MLB outings that he has allowed two or fewer tallies.
Ryan leads all American League rookies in wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts. Home runs have been a problem, and he is not a power pitcher. The Twins are 12-8 in the games he has started.
4.Felix Bautista, 3-3, 8 Saves, 1.73 ERA, 0.90 WHIP
Moving Bautista to the closer role has been a big reason that the Orioles have been on the upswing over the last three months, going 42-30 since June 1. The 27-year-old has been one of the best rookie relievers in the AL, and he picked up his eighth save, in nine opportunities, in the O’s 5-3 victory over the Red Sox in Williamsport (PA) on Sunday night.
Bautista is a strikeout pitcher and does not walk many batters. He has given up 12 runs in 52 innings over 54 appearances while posting a 4.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Bautista also has 12 holds and has held opponents to a .173 batting average against and a .226 BAbip.
5. Reid Detmers, Angels, 4-4, 3.96 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Like Ryan, the 23-year-old lefty had a cup of coffee in the majors last year. He had a dominant July and has been much better at home this year.
Detmers lasted just four and one-third innings on Saturday in a 4-3 loss to the Tigers, allowing 10 hits and four runs though he did record a career-high 12 strikeouts. He does have the only complete game and shutout by an AL rookie. However, Detmers does get hit hard, and home runs and walks are a problem.
6. Jeremy Pena, Astros, .246, 16 HR, 52 R, 44 RBI, . 712 OPS
Pena gets credit for his power, availability, and defense. He ranks third in defensive WAR (1.7) and third in range among all AL shortstops.
7. Adley Rutschman, Orioles .259, 8 HR, 48 R, 25 RBI .821 OPS
The 24-year-old switching hitting catcher didn’t arrive at the “Big Show” until the end of May and struggled his first month. While Rutschman has been raking at the plate the last two months, he is putting up season-best MLB numbers in August with a slash line of .313/.446/.547 to go along with three home runs and 8 RBI.
Rutschman has struggled against left-handers. Defensively, Rutschman doesn’t have a passed ball and has thrown out 77% (7 of 26) would be base stealers. But he also has five errors in 66 games behind the plate.
8. Jose Miranda, Twins, .285, 13 HR, 53 RBI, .809 OPS
Miranda struggled when he first arrived in the big leagues in May, but he has quickly adjusted. The 24-year-old first baseman has hit over .300 with 11 dingers and 46 RBI since. Miranda leads all-AL rookies in batting average and ranks in the top 100 in the majors in home runs and RBI.
9. Bobby Witt, Rangers, .248, 16 HR, 59 RBI, 59 R, .720 OPS
Witt leads all MLB rookies with 112 appearances. The 22-year-old shortstop, tied with Rodriguez for most stolen bases among rookies, has struggled at the dish in August after a decent three-month stretch.
Between May and July, Witt hit .264 average with 14 homers and 46 RBI. However, he has not been good defensively all season long.
Other top MLB contenders:
MJ Melendez (Royals), Brock Burke (Rangers), George Kirby (Mariners)