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James Outman wins National League rookie of the month, again

Miami Marlins v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

James Outman’s up-and-down rookie season has found footing in the solid range for the last few months, and for his efforts in August the Dodgers center fielder was named National League rookie of the month.

Outman in August hit .277/.408/.482 with five home runs, 15 RBI, and a 148 wRC+. He led all National League rookies during the month in on-base percentage, walks (16), and home runs. His OPS (.8897) was a very close second to Rockies outfielder Nolan Jones (.8902). Outman was also second among NL rookies in batting average, slugging percentage, and RBI, and he ranked third in runs scored (17).

The Dodgers had two monthly award winners for August, with Outman joined by NL player of the month Mookie Betts.

The rookie season for Outman has been anything but linear. He started out red hot in April with eight home runs in the season’s first month, continuing his scorching-hot streak that started with his major league debut in 2022 and his final two months of last season in Triple-A. That earned Outman NL rookie of the month for April, but he followed that with a two-month slump through May and June.

James Outman, month by month

Month OPS wRC+
Month OPS wRC+
Apr .991 166
May .552 54
Jun .551 54
Jul .904 155
Aug .890 148
Source: FanGraphs

He hit just .192/.277/.274 with a 54 wRC+ in May in June, but remained in the lineup semi-regularly thanks to above-average defense in center field. Fellow rookie opening day starter (and bobblehead giveaway mate last week) Miguel Vargas similarly struggled but did not have the defense to fall back on, and was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City during the All-Star break.

Outman slowly but surely turned things around. Since July 1, he’s hitting .289/.424/.465 with a 151 wRC+ that ranks third on the Dodgers, trailing only Betts (215 wRC+) and Freddie Freeman (183) during those last two-plus months. In that time, Outman has dramatically increased his walk rate to 17.2 percent, up from 9.1 percent through the end of June.

With Betts playing a ton of second base this season in addition to right field, Outman has really been the lone constant in the Dodgers outfield this season. David Peralta and Jason Heyward have platooned and almost exclusively only start against right-handed pitchers, with Peralta making two starts and Heyward none against lefties.

Outman’s 28 starts against the 41 left-handed starters the Dodgers have faced are third on the team among left-handed batters, only two behind Max Muncy for second (Freeman, who has started every game this season, is first). Outman is hitting .292/.392/.358 with a 116 wRC+ against southpaws. He has played 83 percent of defensive innings in the outfield this season, with 288 more innings than second-most on the team (Peralta).

Outman is just the second Dodger to win rookie of the month twice, along with Cody Bellinger in May and June 2017, his first two full months in the majors. The rookie of the month has been around since 2001.