Baseball Rookie Eligibility Rules

Baseball Rookie Eligibility Rules

When baseball players are called up to the major leagues, they are considered rookies. With that said, there are certain points in players’ careers when they surpass their rookie eligibility. Read on to learn how long pitchers and batters are considered rookies and what affects their eligibility.


There are a few different thresholds that players have to pass to no longer be considered a rookie in the major leagues. Listed below are the various rules about rookie eligibility in the MLB:

  • Position players hold their rookie status through their first 130 at-bats in the major leagues.
  • Pitchers are considered rookies until they have pitched 50 innings in the majors.
  • All players are no longer considered to be rookies after 45 days on a team’s active MLB roster during the 26-player limit on rosters during the season.
  • Team rosters expand to 28 players on September 1st of each season. This does not include time on the injured list.
  • Rookie of the Year awards can only be awarded to players that still have their rookie eligibility during that season.


  • Vaughn Grisxom of the Atlanta Braves had 141 at-bats during the 2022 season, and therefore, he forwent his rookie eligibility for the next season.
  • Matthew Liberatore of the St. Louis Cardinals pitched in 34.2 innings in 2022, meaning that he retained his rookie eligibility for the 2023 season.
  • Stone Garrett of the Washington Nationals took 76 at-bats in the 2022 campaign but was on the active roster for 50 days during the regular season, losing his rookie eligibility for the next season.


The first Rookie of the Year award was given in 1947 and was only awarded to one player. In 1949, the award was changed to represent one player from the National League and one player from the American League. Up until 1956, the term “rookie” was simply a first-year player. 

The framework for the term “rookie” took shape in 1957, as it was decided that any player with fewer than 75 at-bats or 45 innings pitched in any previous season was considered a rookie. This was later changed to nine at-bats, 45 innings pitched, or 45 days on an active MLB roster before the September call-up date of a given year. The current format for rookie eligibility was adopted in 1971.

2020 COVID-19 Season

The shortened 2020 season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saw some temporary changes to MLB rookie eligibility rules. Baseball teams only played 60 games that season, which meant that players could be on the active roster for more than half of the year and still qualify as a rookie in 2021. 

In addition, 2020 roster sizes were expanded to 28 for the shortened year. Due to the fact that the minor league season was canceled that year, there was no September roster expansion, which meant that those days counted towards active roster time. This forced Angels outfielder Jo Adell to lose his rookie eligibility (when he would not have during normal years).

Similar Rules to Rookie Eligibility Rules

  • MLB Service Time
  • Rule Five Draft
  • Salary Arbitration


How are rookies eligible in baseball?

Rookies are considered eligible in the MLB if they have under 130 at-bats, under 50 innings pitched, and have less than 45 days on the active roster. The service time does not include days on the injured list. Players must meet all of the criteria in order to keep their rookie eligibility. Only players with eligibility are considered for the Rookie of the Year award.