This is a two-horse race, and while Atlanta’s Michael Harris is the favorite to win the award currently (-320 odds), I’m giving the edge to Spencer Strider. Strider’s impeccable mustache is the main reason I’m leaning in his favor, but aside from the gorgeous facial hair, Strider led all National League rookie pitchers (min. 70 innings pitched) in ERA by nearly a full point. (Strider: 2.67; CIN’s Nick Lodolo: 3.66). His expected ERA was even lower (2.39). Strider’s 4.9 fWAR was more than three points higher than Lodolo’s (1.8). Strider is so far and away the best rookie pitcher in the National League it’s not even close.
There are two factors going against Strider though. For one, he suffered an oblique injury in September which forced him to miss time. While he was out, the Braves overtook the Mets in the NL East and won the division. That’s not good for Strider’s case. Still, before going down, Strider had a 5-1 record and a 1.71 ERA over his previous seven starts. He was absolutely dominating opposing lineups and probably would’ve had a sub-2.50 ERA if he hadn’t gotten hurt. Second, Strider only became a starting pitcher at the end of May. Strider’s first 11 appearances in 2022 were as a reliever. He was great in that role, but because of that limited time as a starter, Striders’ cumulative statistics like strikeouts and innings pitched aren’t where voters would like them to be. Strider’s history as a reliever also made it difficult for him to go deep into games. Throughout 20 games started, Strider only had two games where he went deeper than six innings. That lack of endurance could play a factor in voters’ decisions.
Still, Harris only played in 114 games this season. While he racked up a decent line, and nearly joined the 20-20 club in his rookie season, finishing one home run short, his plate discipline was a little lacking. If Harris simply took more pitches, he could’ve easily had an OPS in the .870s. That’s something he’ll have to work on in the future. I also feel as though Harris’s incredible power numbers are unsustainable. 49 of Harris’s 123 hits this season went for extra bases, giving Harris a .217 ISO, 18th-best in the National League. His BABIP was also .361, the second-highest in the National League. That implies a lot of luck went Harris’s way in 2022. Thus, I’m giving the edge to Strider. Oh, and Harris’s OPS-plus was 135. Strider’s ERA-plus was 153.