Who are the early Rookie of the Year frontrunners?

May 26th, 2022

A large number of rookies have made a strong first impression this season, so much so that 37 players received a mention in our first Rookie of the Year Award poll of 2022.

Voters were asked to rank their top five Rookie of the Year candidates in each league based on what has happened so far and what they expect will happen in the months to come. Rookies received vote points on a 5-4-3-2-1 scale -- five points for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on, with 49 voters participating. Here are the results. (All stats are through Tuesday.)


1. Jeremy Peña, SS, Astros (25 first-place votes)
Replacing a multi-time All-Star at shortstop is no easy task, but Peña has handled his role as Carlos Correa’s successor in Houston with aplomb. The 24-year-old has displayed a dynamic set of tools, hitting .293 with seven homers and an .851 OPS and ranking among the leaders in sprint speed and outs above average.

2. Julio Rodríguez, OF, Mariners (10 first-place votes)
Rodríguez struggled out of the gate this season, recording a .367 OPS with no homers and 22 strikeouts in his first 48 plate appearances, but he has put up a .322/.365/.509 slash line with five homers in his past 126 PAs. One of the fastest players in baseball, Rodríguez also has made a notable impact on the bases, tying for the MLB lead in steals (12).

3. Joe Ryan, RHP, Twins (9 first-place votes)
The Twins rebuilt their rotation with the additions of Sonny Gray, Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer and Chris Paddack in the offseason, but Ryan has emerged as their ace in the early going. Acquired from the Rays last July in the trade that sent Nelson Cruz from Minneapolis to St. Petersburg, Ryan has posted a 2.28 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and a 42-to-14 K/BB ratio in 43 1/3 innings for a Minnesota club that is attempting to go from worst to first in the AL Central.

4. Bobby Witt Jr., 3B/SS, Royals (3 first-place votes)
Like Rodríguez, Witt made his club’s season-opening roster and was surrounded by considerable hype when he debuted on Opening Day, only to get off to a slow start. However, Witt has started to turn things around at the plate, collecting eight extra-base hits (four homers) in his past 12 games. He also has turned heads with his wheels, leading all players in average sprint speed (30.4 ft/sec). Our voters clearly expect him to make his presence felt over the next four-plus months.

5. Adley Rutschman, C, Orioles (1 first-place vote)

MLB’s No. 1 overall prospect is just getting his feet wet in the Majors, having debuted last Saturday, but he still received enough support to finish fifth in our poll. It’s not hard to see why. After being selected first overall in the 2019 MLB Draft, the switch-hitting catcher notched a .282/.391/.488 slash line with 30 homers in 179 Minor League games.

Others receiving votes: Steven Kwan (1 first-place vote), Jhoan Duran, Gilberto Celestino, Spencer Torkelson, Dany Jiménez, Brock Burke, Reid Detmers, Royce Lewis, A.J. Puk, Jake Burger, Josh Winder


1. MacKenzie Gore, Padres (24 first-place votes)
After taking a step back in the Minors last season, Gore came to Padres camp with a lot to prove, but he put himself in consideration for a big league opportunity with a strong performance during Spring Training. His opportunity came on April 15, and he has pitched to a 2.06 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 11 walks in 35 innings for San Diego.

2. Seiya Suzuki, OF, Cubs (18 first-place votes)
A perennial All-Star during his career in Japan, Suzuki signed a five-year, $85 million contract with the Cubs in March. Suzuki has cooled off in May, but he won the NL Rookie of the Month Award in April and has shown a strong grasp of the strike zone and a powerful stroke so far.

3. Juan Yepez, 1B/OF/DH, Cardinals (2 first-place votes)
The Cardinals have found ways to get Yepez’s bat into the lineup since they called up the 24-year-old earlier this month, giving him multiple starts at four positions (1B, LF, RF, DH). Through 19 games, the right-handed slugger has produced a .288 average with four homers and an .851 OPS.

4. Luis González, OF, Giants (2 first-place votes)
The Giants claimed González off waivers from the White Sox last season and, after releasing him prior to the non-tender deadline, re-signed him to a Minor League contract last December. The 26-year-old opened this season in the Minors, but he quietly has been one of San Francisco’s best hitters since his callup on April 22, posting a .338/.385/.475 slash line while seeing time at all three outfield spots. He’s even made three pitching appearances, two of them in consecutive games.

5. Hunter Greene, RHP, Reds
The overall results aren’t pretty, but the stuff is electric, and Greene has looked better of late, recording a 1.93 ERA with 21 K’s in 18 2/3 innings over his past three starts. The hard-throwing righty is still working on his fastball command, but hitters haven’t been able to touch his slider, going 7-for-73 (.096) with 29 K’s against the pitch.

Others receiving votes: Spencer Strider, Brendan Donovan (1 first-place vote), Alek Thomas, Nolan Gorman (1 first-place vote), Alexis Díaz, Keibert Ruiz (1 first-place vote), Cody Poteet, Scott Effross, Connor Overton, Jack Suwinski, Joey Bart, Diego Castillo, Seth Beer, Bryson Stott, C.J. Abrams, Oneil Cruz