Julio Rodriguez wins American League Rookie Of The Year Award

Mariners midfielder Julie Rodriguez has won the Rookie of the Year award in the American League for 2022, according to an announcement from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Orioles catcher Adley Rutschmann finished second in the vote, while Guardians was an outfielder Steven Kwan checked in third.

This year’s rookie class in the Junior Circuit was remarkable, headlined by Rodríguez and Rutschman. The pair of top prospects both grounded against MLB pitching. Seattle carried Rodríguez onto its roster as their Opening Day midfielder, looking to continue their surprise 90-win campaign in 2021. The young outfielder got off to a rocky start, thanks in part to some questionable strike calls early on, but he came eventually emerged as the best-positioned player at a good club in Seattle.

With over 560 at bats, Rodríguez posted a line of .284/.345/.509. He hit 28 home runs and swept 25 bases in 32 attempts, one of only four players (Kyle Tucker, Adolis Garcia and Marcus Semien being the others) to reach 25 longballs and steal each. Rodríguez was particularly electric in the second half, putting up a .303/.361/.576 line coming off the All-Star Break to help Seattle to its first postseason appearance in more than two decades.

Rodríguez also impressed on the other side of the ball, starting 130 games and playing 1126 2/3 innings in center field. Both Defensive Runs Saved and Statcast gave him above-average defense, no small feat for a player that some potential assessors suggested would be better suited to right field. The 21-year-old seems to have put all questions about his defensive home to bed for now.

While Rodríguez is certainly pleased to secure Rookie of the Year honors on his own merits, the selection also has a tangible effect on the team. The new collective labor agreement contained measures to combat the manipulation of service time by means of the so-called “prospect promotion incentive”. Top-two Rookie of the Year finishers who were Top 100 prospects on at least two preseason lists at Baseball America, ESPN and MLB Pipeline automatically receive a full year of service. That’s a moot point for Rodríguez, who would have qualified for a full year of service after spending more than 172 days on the MLB roster. He also signed a huge contract extension midway through the season that overrides his path to arbitration and free agency.

The second part of the PPI will come into effect. A team that promotes a player to a full year of service who meets the above prospect criteria and entered the year with less than 60 days of MLB service who then finishes in the top two in ROY balloting (or top three in Cy Young or MVP balloting) vote during their pre-arbitration seasons) earns a bonus draft pick after the first round. Seattle had Rodríguez on its roster all year, so they will receive an additional pick in the 2023 draft in recognition of his accomplishments.

Rutschman and Kwan check in second after very strong years in their own right. Baltimore’s catcher hit .254/.362/.445 with 13 home runs in 470 at bats. His second-place finish also earns him a full year of service. Kwan doesn’t get that honor for third place, but he earned a full year of service after breaking camp in Cleveland anyway. Rutschman’s former teammate at Oregon State, Kwan batted .298/.373/.400 over 638 at bats to help the Guards to a division title.

Rodríguez received 29 of 30 first-place votes, while Rutschman collected the other. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, the only voter to put Rutschman ahead of Rodríguez, explained his thought process in a well-grounded manner. Twitter thread. Rodríguez was the only player named on all 30 ballots. Rutschman was selected on 28 ballots, while Kwan earned 24 combined second or third place votes. Royal short stop Bobby Witt Jr.Astro’s short stop Jeremy Pena and Mariners rightly so George Kirby got some support too.

Full breakdown of votes can be found here.

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