Presenting a very deep MLB 2022 rookie All-Star team

Sep 19, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan (38) rounds the bases during an RBI triple in the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 19, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan (38) rounds the bases during an RBI triple in the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jeremy Pena. Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Jeremy Pena. Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports /

Shortstop

The shortstop position is decidedly the strength of the 2022 rookie team. At least three legitimate candidates for the starting spot emerge.

But despite his obvious potential, Oneil Cruz’s .218 batting average disqualifies him from consideration. And Bobby Witt, although well-qualified, has played enough at third base to be a legitimate pick there.

That leaves the position to Jeremy Pena of the AL-favored Houston Astros.

Pena had a lot to live up to, being handed the shortstop position … and on a contender, no less, when Carlos Correa left via free agency. He’s more than lived up to the pressure.

Drafted by the Astros in the third round of the 2018 draft, Pena arrived this spring as the franchise’s top prospect. Deep into his rookie season, Pena is batting .249 with 19 home runs. His offensive numbers generally are pedestrian, although that’s okay on the Astros, who — with Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman — don’t need more offense.

They do need defense up the middle, and Pena has given Houston plenty of that. He leads big league shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved (15), and is tied for second in range.

Pena plainly needs to improve on his batting work to reach his full potential. He strikes out too frequently (nearly once every four trips) and rarely walks. In the short term, however, his defensive contributions more than make up for those offensive deficiencies.