Every year brings at least a handful of exciting new stars in the big leagues, but the 2022 MLB rookie class is as deep and talented as any in recent memory.
Seattle Mariners center fielder Julio Rodríguez, Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman and Atlanta Braves teammates Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider have been the cream of the crop, but they are by no means the only rookies who made a major impact right out of the gates.
Here, we've counted down the top 25 rookies of the 2022 season based solely on their production this season. Future expectations and long-term upside did not factor in. The focus was simply on who performed best this year.
Let's start with a long list of honorable mentions.
Starting Pitchers: Graham Ashcraft (CIN), Javier Assad (CHC), Brayan Bello (BOS), Kyle Bradish (BAL), Edward Cabrera (MIA), Roansy Contreras (PIT), Bryce Elder (ATL), Braxton Garrett (MIA), MacKenzie Gore (SD/WAS), Hunter Greene (CIN), Connor Overton (CIN), JP Sears (NYY/OAK), Hayden Wesneski (CHC)
Relief Pitchers: Domingo Acevedo (OAK), Bryan Baker (BAL), Andrew Bellatti (PHI), Matt Brash (SEA), Dylan Coleman (KC), José Cuas (KC), Jason Foley (DET), Brandon Hughes (CHC), Zach Jackson (OAK), Dany Jiménez (OAK), Dylan Lee (ATL), Ron Marinaccio (NYY), Seth Martinez (HOU), Sam Moll (OAK), Jovani Moran (MIN), Penn Murfee (SEA), Andre Pallante (STL), A.J. Puk (OAK), Clarke Schmidt (NYY), Robert Suárez (SD), Zack Thompson (STL), Steven Wilson (SD)
Catchers: Joey Bart (SF), Nick Fortes (MIA), MJ Melendez (KC)
Infielders: Rodolfo Castro (PIT), Nolan Gorman (STL), Vaughn Grissom (ATL), Darick Hall (PHI), Gunnar Henderson (BAL), Emmanuel Rivera (KC/ARI), Bryson Stott (PHI), David Villar (SF)
Outfielders: José Azócar (SD), Oswaldo Cabrera (NYY), Kerry Carpenter (DET), Corbin Carroll (ARI), TJ Friedl (CIN), Luis González (SF), Riley Greene (DET), José Siri (HOU/TB), Jack Suwinski (PIT), Alek Thomas (ARI), Juan Yepez (STL)
25. IF/OF Christopher Morel, Chicago Cubs
A versatile power-speed threat who made an immediate impact upon moving into the Cubs' starting lineup in mid-May, Morel posted a 107 OPS+ with 19 doubles, 16 home runs and 10 steals in 113 games. The 23-year-old made double-digit starts at center field (50), second base (28), third base (16) and shortstop (10) while turning in a 1.4-WAR season.
24. RHP Scott Effross, Chicago Cubs/New York Yankees
With a deceptive sidearm delivery and a solid sinker/slider pairing, Effross was an early bright spot for the Cubs, posting a 2.66 ERA and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 47 appearances before he was traded to the Yankees at the deadline in exchange for prospect Hayden Wesneski. He went on to tally three saves and three holds with a 2.13 ERA in 13 appearances with the Yankees, and he's controllable through the 2027 campaign.
23. OF Seiya Suzuki, Chicago Cubs
The Cubs gave Suzuki a five-year, $85 million deal during the offseason, and he hit .333/.458/.632 with five doubles, four home runs and 14 RBI in his first 18 games. His production leveled off from there, but he still finished with a 116 OPS+ and 38 extra-base hits in 111 games, providing some hope that he can be a key piece of the future on the North Side.
22. RHP Alexis Díaz, Cincinnati Reds
Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a plus slider that generated a 45.0 percent whiff rate, Díaz emerged from his older brother's shadow this season to establish himself as a young reliever on the rise. The 26-year-old had a 1.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 11.7 K/9 with 10 saves and 13 holds in 59 appearances, and he limited opposing hitters to a .131 batting average while also recording a team-high seven wins.
21. 1B Vinnie Pasquantino, Kansas City Royals
Pasquantino posted a .957 OPS with 37 doubles, 24 home runs and 84 RBI in 116 games between High-A and Double-A in 2021 to announce himself as a prospect on the rise. After a hot start at Triple-A this season, he made his MLB debut on June 28. The 25-year-old had a 135 OPS+ with 10 doubles, 10 home runs and 26 RBI in 298 plate appearances. He should be a middle-of-the-order presence in Kansas City for the foreseeable future.
20. LHP Nick Lodolo, Cincinnati Reds
The first pitcher taken in the 2019 draft at No. 7 overall, Lodolo outperformed the more highly-touted Hunter Greene as both players made their debuts in the Cincinnati rotation. The 6'6" southpaw made 19 starts, finishing with a 3.66 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 103.1 innings. He had a 2.48 ERA with 49 punchouts in 36.1 innings over his final six starts. He'll be a breakout candidate to watch in 2023.
19. LHP Brock Burke, Texas Rangers
After making his MLB debut in 2019, Burke struggled to carve out a big league role, and he struggled to a 5.68 ERA as a starter at Triple-A in 2021. The 26-year-old moved to the bullpen this year and pitched his way into a key multi-inning role, posting a 1.97 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.8 K/9 and 2.1 WAR while leading the majors with 82.1 relief innings.
18. 1B/OF Joey Meneses, Washington Nationals
Meneses made his MLB debut shortly after his 30th birthday following the blockbuster deal that sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the San Diego Padres. He hit .324/.367/.523 with 14 doubles, 13 home runs and 34 RBI in 240 plate appearances. While his .371 BABIP is a sign of some regression to come, his batted-ball metrics are strong enough to believe he can be an everyday player in 2023.
17. LHP Reid Detmers, Los Angeles Angels
Detmers provided one of the highlights of the 2022 season when he tossed a no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 10. He looks like a keeper as the Angels continue to shuffle their starting rotation pieces. The No. 10 overall pick in the 2020 draft finished with a 3.77 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 122 strikeouts in 129 innings. His 2.4 WAR was tied for the fifth-highest total on the Angels roster.
16. SS Oneil Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates
Cruz hit a baseball 122.4 mph this season, the hardest hit of the entire 2022 season. A 6'7" shortstop with a rocket arm and light-tower power, he has a chance to be a bona fide superstar in the years to come. His .294 on-base percentage and 34.9 percent strikeout rate suggest he still has work to do refining his approach, but he still finished with a 107 OPS+ and 34 extra-base hits in 361 plate appearances while tallying 2.3 WAR.