Welcome to the third edition of the 2022 Rookie Power Rankings. Once a month, the staff of the MLB Pipeline vote on who we think will be the most likely Rookie of the Year winner at the end of the year.
Repeat: at the end of the year. Please don’t miss this part. We’re not voting on who would win today or who’s hot right now (that’s a separate story you’ll see in two weeks). Instead, we weigh players’ past performance against expectations for the rest of the year, leading to an assessment by our potential Experts.
1. Julio Rodríguez, OF, Mariners (Previous Rank: 1)
DraftKings Rookie of the Year odds: -140 (must bet $140 to win $100)
Remember when Rodríguez scored in the .130s? Neither do we. This is what it looks like when a star is formed. From the slow first two weeks – during which, as you may recall, he didn’t find favor in the strike zone – Rodríguez has simply been one of the best players in the game. He found his strength in May and then began drawing some walks in June. And all while playing a top-flight midfielder and leading the American League in stolen bases.
2. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Royals (Previous Rank: 3)
DraftKing’s Rookie of the Year odds: 7-1
You could just copy and paste the above comment for Witt. He had a rough April, began chasing power in May and began commanding the strike zone more in June. Witt, like Rodríguez, also collects stolen bases and plays well in a prime defensive position. These guys are both special and it will be fun to watch them deliver performance after performance for the rest of the season.
3. Adleyrutschman, C, Orioles (Previous Rank: 9)
DraftKing’s Rookie of the Year Odds: 30-1
I hate to say we told you, but…yeah. We rankrutschman before his debut. We had him on the list when he ended May with an average of .179. Since then, the former #1 overall view has skyrocketed. In the last two weeks he’s found his power stroke, trimmed his strikeouts and generally played like the star-in-waiting pretty much everyone thought he was. The only thing that keeps TRUTSCHMAN from the top two spots on this list is that Rodríguez and Witt had a seven-week lead.
4. Jeremy Peña, SS, Astros (Previous Rank: 2)
DraftKing’s Rookie of the Year odds: 3.3-1
In the first half of June, Peña’s performance cooled off a little before he traveled to the injured list with a thumb injury. He’s still a very good player having had a very good year as a starting shortstop for a very good team, and that combination tends to be quite compelling to voters. If Peña resumes his performance spurt from the first two months, he will be in contention with all three of the most touted prospects ahead of him on this list.
5. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Padres (Previous Rank: 5)
DraftKing’s Rookie of the Year odds: 4.25-1
Gore ended up having a rough start — actually two, both against Colorado — but bounced back against the Phillies last week, and it’s fair to say our staff still love him. Still, that 1.71 ERA coming off May is almost double that now, and it will be interesting to see how a pitcher who’s never surpassed 101 professional innings holds up over six months.
6. Michael Harris II, OF, Braves (previously unranked)
DraftKing’s Rookie of the Year odds: 4.5-1
Harris entered the season with a total of 632 appearances as a professional record player. But that didn’t stop him from raking in his first encounter with Double-A, and he didn’t look unprepared for the Majors either. His defense gets excellent marks and the only question was how much he had hit. So far the answer is “a lot”. There are some concerns about his plate discipline (27Ks against three walks), but Harris has been a revelation in his first month in the big leagues.
7. Brendan Donovan, IF/OF, Cardinals (previously unranked)
DraftKing’s Rookie of the Year odds: 19-1
Oh, hey, what do you know? Another polished hitter born out of the Cardinals’ farm system. Donovan has been a machine on the grassroots since he started playing regularly in mid-May and his minor league record shows it’s no fluke. Donovan has averaged and controlled hitting zone at pretty much every level since being picked in the seventh round by South Alabama in 2018.
8. Joe Ryan, RHP, Twins (Previous Rank: 6)
DraftKing’s Rookie of the Year odds: 28-1
Ryan has definitely been a little less impressive since coming back from the COVID-19 injury list, but his overall performance keeps him on the list. Ryan has produced very strong results in the first two months of the season and it’s reasonable to think he’ll be back on form before long. But for now, in a crowded American League field, he’s slipping down the rankings a bit.
9. George Kirby, RHP, Mariners (previously unranked)
DraftKing’s Rookie of the Year odds: 55-1
Kirby, a preseason Top 50 contender, started the year with Double-A but quickly worked his way up the ranks. Now he’s acting for a Mariners team that’s slowly gaining traction. In Kirby’s last six starts, he has 36 strikeouts, four walks, and a 2.91 ERA. He was a little homer prone but overall he was very, very good for a team that needed it.
10. Spencer Strider, RHP, Braves (previously unranked)
DraftKing’s Rookie of the Year odds: 9-1
Even with the dominance he showed from the bullpen earlier in the year, it would be difficult for Strider to win rookie honors as a non-closing reliever. However, he’s continued to put up numbers even after moving into rotation, so he’s on the list now. Strider has a 3.24 ERA in five starts in June, with 35 Ks against nine walks, and he has a dominant performance against the Dodgers. His arrow is definitely pointing up.