One of the most interesting storylines to the 2022 MLB season will be tracking the AL Rookie of the Year race. Now that we are through the first month of the season, we are starting to see some of the candidates emerge. While we wait on the debuts of Adley Rutschman and Riley Greene, why don’t we take a look at where things currently stand in the race to be the AL Rookie of the Year.
The first coterie are those rookies who have already seen considerable playing time and have a leg up in most betting markets.
Cleveland’s Newest Star
The first name to watch is the super versatile Steven Kwan. Always seen as a high contact prospect, Kwan has blossomed during his debut season. From practically refusing to swing and miss to flawless defense, Kwan is working his way to the top of the AL Rookie of the Year list. He likely won’t flash too much power so Kwan will need to keep his average up to keep his name in consideration.
The Royals Top Prospect
Perhaps the most notable name to monitor is Bobby Witt Jr., MLB’s top prospect. Witt made his debut on Opening Day but struggled to start the season. After his first 10 games, Witt saw his average drop to .128 and he looked a little lost at the plate. However, he has been on a bit of a tear ever since, hitting .314, adding 3 more doubles and clubbing his first home run.
Witt should hear his name is most AL Rookie of the Year conversations; especially if he keeps making these types of plays!
2020’s Number One Overall Pick
Since being selected with the top pick, Spencer Torkelson has been on the fast track to the Major Leagues. Having taken over first base from Miguel Cabrera after a dominant Spring, the Tigers hoped to see Riley Greene and Torkelson lead Detroit back to the playoffs. Instead, the former has been out with a fractured left foot while the latter has gone 1 for his last 20.
While Torkelson has been mired in a slump, he has displayed some power with three home runs over the first month.
MLB’s Stolen Base Leader
Since joining the Mariners’ big league roster, Julio Rodriguez has been a menace on the base paths. After stealing 21 bases in 26 attempts across the minor leagues last season, Rodriguez has started his MLB career a perfect 9 for 9.
If Rodriguez helps to lead the Mariners back to the playoffs for the first time since 2001 he will gain some additional momentum. Also, these types of home runs always help!
Minnesota’s New Ace
Minnesota appears to be cashing in with Joe Ryan, who they acquired from Tampa Bay last year in the Nelson Cruz trade. Ryan is 3-1 on the year with 25 strikeouts, 10 hits, and 6 walks in just over 23 innings. Since letting up 2 earned runs in his season debut, Ryan has only allowed 1 earned run over his other 3 starts.
Houston’s New Shortstop
Filling in for a former number one overall draft pick, a World Series winner or a fan favorite is never an easy task. Houston’s Jeremy Pena found himself having to replace all three when he took over at shortstop following Carlos Correa‘s move to Minnesota. However, instead of struggling, Pena has been fantastic.
While Correa has struggled a bit in the AL Central, Pena is quickly becoming a fan favorite behind his timely hitting and 4 home runs.
The Dark Horses
While the five names outlined above have generated some buzz, there is still a lot of season left to be played. Maybe one of these talented players will start to separate from the pack. At some point, we are likely to see the highly anticipated debuts of Rutschman and Greene. Or perhaps one of the other talented pitchers, Shane Baz or Matt Brash can jump into the mix.
Who is your favorite to be named the AL Rookie of the Year?
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images