The 2022 MLB rookie class was truly exceptional. Remember that the article you are about to read covers 13 of the best rookies who grace us with their presence, and you will not see Riley Greene, CJ Abrams, Alek Thomas, Bryson Stott, Nolan Gorman, MacKenzie Gore. , Vaughn Grissom, Reid Detmers, Vinnie Pasquantino, et cetera.
All of those players had great moments, and while their overall body of work wasn’t good enough to crack the baker’s dozen below, they’re all part of the sport’s bright future.
What makes it electric? Everything. Is that too much of an escape response? Maybe, but it’s true. The likely AL Rookie of the Year winner, J-Rod’s ranked in the 90th percentile or higher in average exit speed, maximum exit speed, sprint speed, arm strength, and outs above average. He is only 21 years old and is undoubtedly one of the most talented players in the sport. The Mariners are sure.
You mix that talent with a bubbly personality and you get a player who looks like the next face of baseball.
Top moment of 2022: Baseball fans knew all about Rodríguez before the All-Star break, but his record-breaking Home Run Derby performance was the moment the world realized just how special this prodigy really is.
What makes it electric? With just over 100 MLB games under his belt, Rutschman is already one of the top backstops in the Majors. Offensively, his 133 wRC+ led the rank among catchers with at least 450 at bats. Behind the plate, his 18 defensive runs trailed only AL Platinum Glove winner Jose Trevino. Overall, JT Realmuto was the only catcher to collect more WAR than Rutschman.
Top moment of 2022: Rutschman is so much more than a great young player for the Orioles. As the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, he is the brightest beacon of the O’s future after a long period of rough times for Baltimore. The Future debuted May 21 at Camden Yards, tripling for his first career hit.
What makes it electric? His fastball sits near 100 mph, and hitters are helpless against his splitter, which yielded a 53.3% sniffing rate. Part of Bautista’s charm is that he’s 27. Although he had to wait a long time to get his chance in the Majors, he certainly didn’t miss it.
Top moment of 2022: The Orioles surprised many by filing for an AL Wild Card spot this season. Perhaps few believed the O’s were real until they went to Houston in late August and took the first two games from the future World Series champions. Bautista recorded the last four outs – including strikeouts from Jeremy Peña and Yuli Gurriel on that devastating splitter – to secure a series win.
What makes it electric? No one throws harder on a more consistent basis. Duran led all pitchers’ pace last season by reaching 100 mph on the radar gun 392 times, which accounted for nearly 40% of his range. The 24-year-old puts out so much heat that even his offspeed stuff hits triple digits.
Top moment 2022?: Duran not only blew batters away, he kept them off the scoreboard. His 1.86 ERA was the lowest in Twins history among rookie relievers (65 innings minimum), and there was a two-month span during the summer when he allowed only one earned run and struck out 36 over 24 2/3 frames. This four-strikeout performance against the Guardians — including a K of 103.2 mph — came at the end of that span.
What makes it electric? Ryan acts like he’s a 10-year veteran. He didn’t run out at the end of a long season, posting a 2.20 ERA in September, and had few issues against AL Central opponents (1.39 ERA in 12 starts). Even though he set a Twins rookie record with 151 strikeouts, Ryan won’t blow your mind with his raw work. Instead, he is the definition of stable. His six starts of at least six innings with no runs allowed were the most among rookies.
Top moment of 2022: If you need proof of Ryan’s September success and division ownership, check out his September 13 performance against the Royals. In perhaps his best start of the season, Ryan threw seven hitless innings and scored nine K’s.
What makes it electric? He absolutely pounds the strike zone. Here’s an extreme example, but that assignment was Kirby’s calling card as a top candidate. It transitioned nicely to the Majors, as the 24-year-old was ranked fifth among all pitchers with a 4.1% walk percentage (130 innings minimum). He gave no more than one free pass in any of his first 22 career starts, recording a 2.98 ERA over those 117 2/3 innings.
Top moment of 2022: Kirby’s 2022 postseason deserves this spot. Most notably his start in ALDS Game 3 against the Astros. His save to clinch the AL Wild Card Series in Toronto was a nice one, but when Seattle handed him the ball for the city’s first home game in more than two decades, Kirby was nail-biting. He held the Astros scoreless for seven innings, struckout five and, of course, walked none.
What makes it electric? Greene just finished his first MLB season at age 22, but his big right arm and dazzling fastball have been legendary since he was in high school. Although Tommy John’s surgery delayed his arrival, the former number 2 overall this year finally made it to The Show and brought his hand cannon with him. In just his second start, Greene threw an AL/NL record 39 pitches at 100 mph or faster. He would surpass that record with 47 such games against the Cardinals on September 18.
Top moment of 2022: Greene’s flashy four-seater encountered many bats during the year. He pitched 24 homers in 125 2/3 innings in a season with many understandable growing pains. However, he left us a possible harbinger of the domination that will come in September to remember: four starts, 23 innings, two earned runs, one home run and 37 strikeouts.
Greene’s home game began with that record night in St. Louis when he sniffed 11 cards in six shutout innings.
What makes it electric? He was the most overwhelming starting pitcher in MLB this year. Among those with at least 130 innings pitched, Strider led by significant margins in K-rate (38.3) and strikeout-minus walk rate (29.7%). He was one of 11 to reach 200 K’s, which is pretty remarkable when you consider that Strider didn’t get his first major league start until late May and missed the last three weeks of the regular season due to an oblique overload. He may only have two pitches, but his fastball-slider combo was pure dynamite.
Top moment of 2022: This one is easy.
Strider’s 16 strikeouts against the Rockies on September 1 set an Atlanta Braves franchise record. And that franchise, if memory serves me right, has a pretty strong roster of starting pitchers.
What makes it electric? He makes his way through the base paths. Witt’s speed is one of the reasons he entered the year ranked by MLB Pipeline as baseball’s No. 1 prospect, and his wheels may have been better than advertised. Witt recorded the second-fastest sprint speed of 30.4 feet per second, joining Trea Turner as the only players to score at least 100 bolts this season.
Top moment of 2022: Witt finished the year with 20 home runs and 30 steals, becoming one of only two players in AL/NL history to reach those benchmarks in a debut season. Here’s Bag No. 30 from October 3 against the Guardians.
What makes it electric? He qualified as the best left fielder of the season. Kwan made headlines early in the season for his uncanny ability to miss literally nothing. Overall, his 124 OPS+ indicated his solid offensive season.
But his defense was on another level. Kwan’s 21 defensive runs saved and 12 outs above average set the bar for left fielders and indicated why the 25-year-old became the first Cleveland rookie to win a Gold Glove.
Top moment of 2022: Kwan put his body on the line for this catch in Seattle. That was good. But his best catch of the season was a total dive on Colorado caution lane to keep the Guardians’ lead. Just breathtaking stuff.
What makes it electric? He has ice in his veins. Peña was the biggest question mark in the Astros’ lineup at the start of the season. Everyone was wondering how this 24-year-old would fill the shoes of a star shortstop who came off a Gold Glove season and produced a slew of clutch hits in the postseason.
Hey, that sounds familiar!
Pena tied Carlos Correa with 22 home runs this season, beat him on defense en route to a Gold Glove and came up again and again when the stakes were highest.
Top moment of 2022: The whole Postseason 2022.
What makes it electric? Another member of the Braves’ unprecedented rookie class, 21-year-old Harris did not play in an MLB game until May 28. Despite the seven-week lead ahead of everyone else, Harris still led all NL rookies in bWAR (5.3). In the past 40 seasons, Mike Trout and Julio Rodríguez are the only rookies 21 or younger to surpass Harris’s total. Harris also scored 19 home runs (the most tied among NL rookies) while putting up elite numbers in arm strength, speed and center field defense. To answer the subheading question, he essentially resembles the National League equivalent of J-Rod.
Top moment of 2022: Let’s keep the bond between Harris and Rodriguez alive by rewatching a thriller between the Braves and Mariners on September 11. Both youths went deep twice that afternoon, marking the first time two players 21 or younger each hit multiple homers in the same game.
What makes it electric? He breaks Statcast. Lots of superlatives have been thrown into this article, and as we get ready to wrap it up, we’re preparing for the grand finale:
Cruz is the tallest shortstop in AL/NL history (6 feet 10 inches).
Cruz has the heaviest hit ball ever tracked by Statcast (200 km/h).
Cruz recorded the fastest infield assist in Statcast history (98.7 mph).
Cruz had the best barrel rate of any shortstop this year (15.5%).
While he needs to clean up his defense and field recognition, this Bucco is simply one of the most innately gifted players we’ve ever seen. He will be 24 years old next season.
Top moment of 2022: We cheat again and choose two: Cruz’s July laser throw and August’s bat rocket.