Aaron Judge and Shohei Otani may be the top players of the season, but this year’s rookie class is the best in decades, with 4.8 to 5.1 fWAR seasons from Julio Rodriguez, Adley Rutchman, Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II.
Either season would have been the best rookie performance since Judge in 2017; Meanwhile, Strider posted the WAR with the most rookies since Hideo Nomo’s magical 1995 season. The last season with two rookies with a WAR of 4.8 or higher was in 2001 when Albert Pujols (7.2 WAR) and Ichiro Suzuki (6.0) took the league by storm.
What’s more, eight of the top nine WAR rookies this year will make the playoffs, with the exception of Rutchman, whose Baltimore Orioles will finish with at least .500. This could be a signal to non-competitive teams to call on their best young talent as soon as possible.
Here’s my ranking of the top 10 rookies that will compete in the upcoming postseason, based on the impact I think they’ll have in October.
1. Julio Rodriguez, CF, Seattle Mariners
Rodriguez’s combination of strength and speed is one of the best in the league, with him in the top 2% in top exit speed and in the top 3% in sprint speed according to Baseball Savant.