Rookie of the Year rankings: Adley makes his push, Braves' pair rules in NL

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Welcome to the fourth edition of theScore's 2022 Rookie of the Year rankings, where we pick five top candidates from each league. We're now in month five, and the contenders are pulling away from the pretenders. Here's how the rookie races currently stack up.

American League

5. Felix Bautista, Orioles

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IP ERA FIP K SV WHIP WAR
48.0 1.69 3.02 64 6 0.90 1.1

Just like his team, Bautista's come out of nowhere. He's now Baltimore's dominant bullpen anchor and a Rookie of the Year contender. Batters can barely touch Bautista's fastball that averages 98 mph, not to mention his devastating sinker. Indeed, his 35.2% strikeout rate ranks fourth among qualified AL relievers, his 64 strikeouts are tied for third, and his 50 appearances are second in the Junior Circuit. His emergence allowed the Orioles to trade All-Star closer Jorge Lopez at the deadline, and Bautista already rewarded their confidence by going three-for-three in save opportunities this month, including a huge four-out effort against Toronto. With Bautista in the bullpen, the Orioles should feel confident in close games as they try to shock the world down the stretch.

4. Bobby Witt Jr., Royals

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GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG SB WAR
103 15 57 57 .254/.297/.440 22 1.7

Don't be fooled by Witt's slash line, which continues to be held down by a very slow start that's now firmly in the rearview mirror. The 22-year-old continues to be one of the few bright spots for the lowly Royals. Witt's one of only three rookies in either league with at least 15 homers, is tied for the rookie lead in runs scored, and is second in RBIs. He also has a unique power-speed combination, stealing 22 bases - good for third place in the AL - while being caught just four times. While the metrics show a better defender at the hot corner, Witt's ability to seamlessly shift between third base and shortstop makes him a unique infielder. It feels like Witt is only scratching the surface of what he can be as a player, and that's a scary thought.

3. Steven Kwan, Guardians

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GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG SB WAR
99 3 29 57 .299/.375/.396 10 2.6

Kwan returns to these rankings thanks to his quiet consistency atop Cleveland's lineup. He's the only qualified rookie close to sniffing a .300 average (Kwan dropped to .299 on Friday), and ranks ninth in his league in OBP. A true throwback, Kwan's game relies on contact, and while you won't see him topping any exit velocity or home-run leaderboards, he's quite good at putting bat to ball. His 92.3% contact rate ranks second in the majors, and his 84 singles (out of 109 base hits) are tied for fifth in the AL. Even when he doesn't make contact, he's still getting on base as one of the rare hitters with more walks (41) than strikeouts (36). Kwan may not be the best hitter on the planet, but he's one of the more unique players in today's game and excellent at what he does.

2. Adley Rutschman, Orioles

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GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR
65 6 21 42 .251/.365/.439 2.9

Rutschman's long-awaited arrival has shaken up both the AL's rookie race and the Junior Circuit's postseason picture. Despite lagging behind the pack in plate appearances, the switch-hitter now leads all rookies with 22 doubles, ranks second among AL rookies in OBP, wRC+ (131), and WAR (2.9), and is tied for fourth in extra-base hits (29). Rutschman's only hit six homers, but an elite batting eye - his 13.9% walk rate is better than Aaron Judge and Paul Goldschmidt, among others - more than makes up for it. He's also held his own defensively, catching six of 24 would-be base-stealers while not allowing a passed ball. But perhaps most importantly, the former first overall pick has turned the Orioles' season around. Since Rutschman debuted on May 21, Baltimore's gone 43-29, and after Friday's win - which included a Rutschman homer - is now in sole possession of the final AL wild-card spot. Few rookies ever have that kind of impact.

1. Julio Rodriguez, Mariners

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GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG SB WAR
97 18 59 55 .274/.337/.482 21 3.2

Not even a wrist injury that necessitated a brief IL stint can stop Rodriguez. Despite missing the last two weeks (he returned Friday), J-Rod still leads all rookies in home runs, RBIs, and WAR by a wide margin, while his 137 wRC+ continues to top AL freshmen. The only place he's really lost a bit of ground is on the stolen-base leaderboard, but even there, he's not too far off the pace, remaining tied for fourth in the AL and seven back of the major-league lead. His defense also remains elite: Rodriguez's four defensive runs saved rank third among center fielders, while his six outs above average sit second. This is now Rodriguez's award to lose, and he's showing no signs of doing that.

National League

5. Nolan Gorman, Cardinals

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GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR
65 13 27 36 .242/.316/.464 1.1

At the time of his arrival in May, Gorman was the Cardinals' top prospect, and expectations were high. He hasn't quite lit the world on fire in the majors, but a deeper look shows a solid contributor to the Cardinals' lineup. A good example is found in some advanced stats. While his slash line, and OBP in particular, lags a bit behind others in his class, Gorman's .339 wOBA is tied for third among qualified NL rookies, while his 121 wRC+ sits third. He's also keeping pace on the home-run front, where he's just one away from tying Jack Suwinski (who's now in the minors) for the NL rookie lead. Gorman's carved out a place for himself in the Cardinals' lineup and has done enough to jump into fifth place on this list.

4. Christopher Morel, Cubs

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GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG SB WAR
70 10 31 44 .260/.329/.454 9 1.4

Morel's had some struggles to start the second half. However, his overall body of work has been solid for the futile Cubs. Morel is tied for sixth among NL rookies in wRC+ (116) and tied for second in WAR. His amazing on-base streak that started his big-league career with a bang is long gone, but he's still reaching base at a .329 clip, better than all but two of his NL rookie peers. Morel's versatility in the field also makes him an important player for his team; he's split time mostly between second base and center field but can also play third and shortstop. In a lost season for the Cubs, Morel's proven that he can be a part of their future and continue growing as a player. He's also most likely done enough to get at least a few downballot Rookie of the Year votes.

3. Brendan Donovan, Cardinals

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GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR
83 2 30 33 .280/.397/.370 1.4

Like Kwan in the AL, Donovan's here thanks to his elite on-base abilities. Though his OBP has now dipped a hair below .400, it still easily tops all rookies, as do his 39 walks. He's also sitting second among qualified Senior Circuit freshmen in wRC+ (127), and tied for second in WAR. Though he strikes out just a bit more than Kwan, Donovan's 13.1% walk rate is elite and ahead of several big-name stars. Donovan also continues to excel as a versatile defensive weapon for the Cardinals, starting games at six different positions and recording just five total errors. Donovan wasn't the Cardinals rookie many expected to be here this year, but he's easily been their best freshman and deserving of award consideration.

2. Michael Harris II, Braves

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GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG SB WAR
66 11 36 41 .294/.331/.502 12 2.5

Harris' impact on the Braves can't be overstated. Though he didn't arrive in the majors until late May, the 21-year-old's WAR not only tops NL rookie position players, but it's higher than All-Star teammates Travis d'Arnaud and William Contreras. He also leads his league's qualified rookies in batting average, and is the only qualified freshman in either league who's slugging above .500. But what's been even more impressive is his highlight-reel defense, which could garner some additional award consideration this offseason. Harris' five outs above average is tied for the NL center-field lead (minimum 500 innings), and he's the Senior Circuit's outright leader in defensive runs saved (five) at the position. Harris has cemented his place in Atlanta's outfield and should be a force there for years to come.

1. Spencer Strider, Braves

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IP ERA FIP K WHIP WAR
89.2 3.11 1.97 138 1.05 3.1

It's still a close race in the NL, but Strider's trying his hardest to pull away. The 23-year-old's 3.11 ERA is complemented by an eye-popping 1.97 FIP that actually dropped despite allowing four earned runs in his most recent start. Strider, the only NL rookie (position player or pitcher) who's surpassed 3.0 WAR this year, is nearly a full win ahead of his teammate Harris for the Senior Circuit lead. He continues to limit the long ball, allowing just five homers since moving into the rotation and no more than one in any single start. He also has double-digit strikeouts in four of his starts, including 13 over 6 2/3 innings on Aug. 2. Strider's going to play a huge role in determining the Braves' October fate.

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Rookie of the Year rankings: Adley makes his push, Braves' pair rules in NL
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