Pittsburgh Pirates: Two Rookie of the Year Contenders in 2022

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 29: Roansy Contreras #59 of the Pittsburgh Pirates takes the field in his Major League debut against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 29, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 29: Roansy Contreras #59 of the Pittsburgh Pirates takes the field in his Major League debut against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 29, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 02: Oneil Cruz #61 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits an RBI single for his first major league hit in the fifth inning during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on October 2, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 02: Oneil Cruz #61 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits an RBI single for his first major league hit in the fifth inning during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on October 2, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Verdict

It’s nice to have two young players that are prime National League Rookie of the Year candidates. The Pittsburgh Pirates have a whole boatload of prospects that will look to secure regular playing time next season. But between Contreras and Cruz, who has the better chance of winning the award.

Contreras comes with less risk than Cruz. He’s pitched well throughout every level of the minor leagues and his improved ability only helps him. He has a high ceiling, but Cruz has an even higher ceiling. He’s a potential .280/.350/.550 hitter who can blast upwards of 35 home runs a season. He could be a J.D. Martinez-type hitter who plays shortstop and right field.

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However, between the two, I think Cruz has the upper hand on National League Rookie of the Year. Now don’t get me wrong. I’d bet that Contreras would get some votes for the award as well. But I think Cruz reaches his power potential and becomes a long-term slugger in 2022.

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