The American League Rookie of the Year race looks set to go all the way, as Julio Rodriguez, Adley Rutschman and Steve Kwan are producing worthy seasons and playing big roles for contending teams. There are, of course, other contenders for the award, but unless those three collapse, the likes of Jeremy Pena and Bobby Witt Jr. are likely to get downvotes but not be seriously considered the best rookie in the junior. circuit.
Kwan burst onto the scene in April by recording hits in eight of his first 10 at-bats and reaching base safely in 12 of his first 14 plate appearances. There have been some ups and downs at the plate since then, but the 24-year-old has settled into the leadoff spot in Cleveland over the past two months and leads all rookies with a .293 batting average and .369 OBP. and his 12 stolen bases. third party fees. His above-average nine outs in left field leads all of baseball and his 18 defensive runs saved leads all rookies. He is the only freshman to walk more than strikeouts and the 119 wRC+, 2.9 fWAR and 3.9 bWAR are some of his best ratings.
Unlike the others under consideration, Rutschman did not make the Opening Day roster as he suffered a triceps injury in Spring Training. The catcher has put together a healthy .244/.353/.425 line with eight home runs in 82 games and his 125 wRC+ ranks second in the AL among rookies. The 24-year-old’s 13.5% walk rate is best among freshmen, while his 17.4% strikeout rate is second among those with at least 300 plate appearances. .
Even with his strong offensive line, the backstop’s greatest strength has been his defensive game. His 13 defensive runs saved rank second in the American League for catchers and his shooting frame has been above average. His defensive value is one of the main reasons he is second in the American League in fWAR at 3.4 and fourth in bWAR at 3.6. Baltimore is 47-32 when he starts and 22-29 when he doesn’t.
For many reasons, Rodríguez is considered the favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year award. Entering the game on Friday, the 21-year-old leads all rookies with 22 home runs, 69 runs scored, 66 RBI, 132 wRC+, 3.8 fWAR and 4.6 bWAR. With a strong finish, he has a chance to join Mike Trout as the only rookies in baseball history to post a 30-30 season. Defensively, he’s also been pretty good, and his above-average seven outs in center field rank fifth in the American League. He was the only rookie selected for the All-Star team and, although he didn’t win, he stole the show in the Home Run Derby.
Who will win?
Rodriguez has to be the favorite, but he has slowed down a bit since his All-Star debut, posting a .237/.295/474 line with six home runs and two stolen bases. While Kwan is having a great season, it seems unlikely that he will top Rodriguez in the vote considering his lack of power and the fact that Julio has already produced a 20-20 season.
Rutschman, on the other hand, has a decent shot at winning the American League Rookie of the Year award. Baltimore’s streak this season has shocked the baseball world and Rutschman’s rise to the major leagues is matched by the team’s rise in the standings. After starting slowly at the plate, he produced a .272/.411/.432 line with more walks than strikeouts since the All-Star break and navigated a pitching staff with no aces. If the award were selected today, Rodriguez would likely win unanimously, but with a month to go, there’s a chance Rutschman could be named top rookie if he puts up a strong September and the Orioles slip into the postseason.