The National League Rookie of the Year race appears to be down to a competition between two teams, the Atlanta Braves, and Cincinnati Reds. The Braves and Reds have multiple players in my NL ROY Top 5 list.
1. Spencer Strider, Braves, 8-4, 2.87 ERA, 158 strikeouts, 1.03 WHIP
After starting the season coming out of the pen, Strider has established himself as a quality third or fourth starter for the Braves. The 23-year-old right-handed power pitcher has pitched exceptionally well in his last few outings despite facing three of the best teams in the majors – Mets, Cardinals, and Astros – as he has allowed just three runs on 12 hits and recorded 20 strikeouts and four walks over 17 innings.
Strider, who has appeared in 27 games this season, strikes out a lot of batters. He doesn’t give up many home runs or walks. As a starter, Strider has a 7-3 record with a 3.09 ERA, 1.032 WHIP, and .192 BAA in 82.3 innings over 16 starts while producing 13.2 K/9 and a 4.33 strikeout to walk ratio.
The 2022 July NL Rookie of the Month ranks sixth in the NL in strikeouts and seventh in situational wins saved. He tops all rookies in total strikeouts, strikeouts per 9 innings, second in innings pitched, and fourth in quality starts.
2. Michael Harris II, Braves, .298, 13 HR, 45 RBI, 15 SB, .860 OPS
After a slow start following a late May call-up, Harris has put together two solid months (June and August). The 21-year-old sweet-swinging lefty is a five-tool player with good power and exceptional speed. He doesn’t draw many walks and has hit righties significantly better than lefties.
Harris is enjoying a spectacular August as he has hit in six straight games, which includes a 4-for-4 night against St. Louis on Aug. 28 – marking the first time in his young career he had four hits. The DeKalb (GA) native has compiled a slash line of .341/.402/.641 and four stolen bases with 15 (4 HRs) of his 30 hits for extra bases during the month.
The 2022 June NL Rookie of the Month is the youngest player in the majors and tops the majors in stolen base percentage. He ranks ninth in the National League in power/speed. Harris also ranks among the top rookie hitters in nearly every category.
3. Alexis Diaz, Reds 4-2, 1.82 ERA, 65 Ks, 0.96 WHIP, 6 Saves, 13 Holds
Diaz has been the Reds’ best pitcher this year and has been even better since officially taking over the closer role at the beginning of September. He is 1-1 with three saves in five opportunities. The 25-year-old right-hander has allowed just two runs (one earned) and six hits in 10.1 innings over 10 appearances while also walking three batters and striking out 19.
Diaz has been relatively unhittable this season, producing 12.2 strikeouts per 9 innings, a meager .135 BAA, and a .472 OPS. His biggest problem is control, registering 4.4 free passes per 9 innings.
He ranks in the top 10 among rookie pitchers in appearances (47) and tops all NL rookies in saves and save opportunities (10). Diaz also ranks among the top rookies in strikeouts per 9 innings, batting average against, and WHIP.
4. Brendan Donovan, Cardinals .299, 2 HR, 35 RBI, .789 OPS
The 25-year-old lefthanded hitting second baseman is having an excellent NL ROY campaign though he sits against most lefties. Donovan, who has hit over .300 in three of the last four months, is currently on a 10-game hitting straight and has produced a slash line of .385/.448/.442 in August.
Donovan ranks 10th in the NL ROY race in a hit-by-pitch. He ranks third among NL rookies in WAR –behind Strider and Harris II – and is among the top first-year hitters overall.
5. Graham Ashcraft, Reds 5-3, 3.97 ERA, 64 strikeouts, 1.33 WHIP
This season, Ashcraft has been the Reds’ second-best pitcher – not named Luis Castillo. However, the 24-year-old right-hander was placed on the 15-day injured list with bicep soreness on Aug. 23. Before the injury, he was having a pretty nice August, allowing nine runs and 24 hits in 27 innings of work over four games.
Ashcraft leads the Reds in wins, quality starts, and innings. He ranks second among NL rookies in victories and fifth in innings.
Others: Andre Pallante (Cardinals), Braxton Garrett (Marlins), Brandon Hughes (Cubs), Edward Cabera (Marlins), Nolan Gorman (Cardinals), Christopher Morrel (Cubs), and Seiya Suzuki (Cubs).
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