MLB Rookie of the Year: American League

Julio Rodriguez wins the AL Rookie of the Year in 2022.
Stephen Brashear – Associated Press

The award season for MLB has already begun with Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winners, but now they are on to the big-time awards. The first major award given out was the coveted Rookie of the Year. This season featured another group of incredible rookies who took the baseball world by storm. Here is a look at the winner from the American League, a man who changed the course of a struggling franchise.

The American League had a stellar lineup of rookies. The three finalists were Julio Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners, Adley Rutschman of the Baltimore Orioles and Steven Kwan of the Cleveland Guardians. All three of these talented stars made a great case to win, but it was clear for most of the season that this award was Rodriguez’s to win and he did.

For the fifth time in franchise history, the Mariners featured the AL Rookie of the Year. This is nothing new as of late since their very own Kyle Lewis won this award in the shortened 2020 season. They have had two in the last three years, but prior to this decade, the last winner was Ichiro Suzuki who won it in 2001.

The Impressive Rodriguez

He made the team immediately out of spring training and was a major force all the way through the season. It did not start the prettiest as he went 1-18 (.056 AVG) to start the season. Thankfully though it is a very long season. After a brutal first five games of April, he went 14-55 (.255 AVG) through the rest of April. Oddly, he did not get his first homer yet.

May started very differently. After only three multi-hit games in April, he began May with a 3-4 game with his first homer. That was the first of nine milti-hit games that month including a career-best 4-4 on May 15. Once he got going he was impossible to slow down. He finished May with six homers and an incredible .309 AVG.

The success continued through the final several months of the season. He did battle some injury issues reducing playing time and overall production, but he still did some great work. In June he had a .280 AVG with seven homers; in July he finished with a .267 AVG and 18 RBI; in August he recorded a .240 AVG. He was kept out of the lineup for a while in September but when he played he went wild with a .383 AVG (23-60) and six homers.

Over 132 games he posted a .284 AVG with 145 hits, 25 doubles, 28 homers and 75 RBI. All of this production was a massive reason for the Mariners snapping their 21-year drought without a playoff appearance. He will be with the Mariners for a long time and with this type of production, he will quickly become one of the faces of baseball.

Runners Up

The Baltimore Orioles are in a stage of rebuilding and they are very happy to have found a catcher who can take this team to the next level. In Adley Rutschman’s 113 games, he had a .254 AVG with 101 hits, 35 doubles, 13 homers, 65 walks and 42 RBI. In only his first season he proved himself as one of the best catchers in baseball.

Steven Kwan had one of the wildest starts to a season by any player ever. Through his first five games, he went 10-15 (.667 AVG) including a 5-5 game on April 10 against the Kansas City Royals. Over 147 games he produced a very strong resume including a .298 AVG, 168 hits, 25 doubles, six homers, 62 walks and 52 RBI. There is no doubt he is going to get on base a ton in the coming years.

The 2022 rookie class provided an immense amount of entertainment and jaw-dropping moments. It was a wonderful rookie class, but Rodriguez stood out the most as he led the Mariners to the playoffs. The Rookie of the Year winners and runner-ups are going to be even more impressive to watch next season now that they have shown what they are capable of. Now the baseball world waits to see which rookies in 2023 are worthy of this special award.

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