As the 162 game baseball season comes to a close, and with October and the playoffs just around the corner, it’s time to delve back into the season and honor those who performed throughout the season. Most of these awards are actual awards handed out to players, but there is one that was made up by me for fun! (All statistics mentioned are as of October 3rd)*
A.L. MVP: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
Honorable Mentions: Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels) and Jose Ramirez (Cleveland Guardians)
All Rise! In a season where Aaron Judge has single handedly defied the odds of ever coming close to beating the American League home run record, it’s hard to believe he shouldn’t be awarded with MVP. Judge has become the most valuable piece for the Yankees’ offense this season, he’s stayed healthy all the while and has provided a solid glove in the outfield, even while moving from his regular right field position over to center field. Not only is Judge leading all of the majors in home runs, he’s even making a run for the Triple Crown (leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs). He’s currently leading the American league in two out of the three Triple Crown categories, home runs and RBIs and is close in the batting average race. and is one home run away from beating Roger Maris’ home run record. It would be crazy to give this award to any other A.L. player, hands down.
N.L. MVP: Freddie Freeman Los Angeles Dodgers
Honorable Mentions: Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis Cardinals) and Nolan Arenado (St. Louis Cardinals)
In his first full season in Dodger blue, Freddie Freeman has been anything but a disappointment for the outstanding 2022 Dodgers. While they’re on pace to win over 110 games this season, Freddie Freeman is currently on pace to lead all of the major leagues in hits (196), doubles (46) and BA (batting average) (.327) and he is leading the National League in runs (116) and OBP (on base percentage) (.409), has a SLG (slugging percentage) of .510 and a WAR (wins above replacement) of 5.9. Freeman has been such a valuable part of the Dodgers in his first year that he was voted by his team to win the Roy Campanella Award, becoming the third first-year Dodger to do so. As the Dodgers are currently gearing up for their playoff run, Freeman should most definitely be as valuable an asset as he was during the regular season.
A.L. Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Honorable Mentions: Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox) and Alek Manoah (Toronto Blue Jays)
Justin Verlander’s return from Tommy John surgery that cut his 2021 season short was not supposed to run as smoothly as it did this year. After returning to the Houston Astros on a one year deal, Verlander’s impact that he brought onto the 2022 Astros should be a top feel-good story in the major leagues this year as he became the ace of a stellar starting rotation for the Astros. In 170 innings pitched this year, Verlander has a 17-4 (win-loss) record leading the major leagues in ERA (earned run average) (1.80), ERA+ (ERA, but adjusted to the different ballparks) (214) and WHIP (walks and hits divided by innings pitched) (0.847), and posted a 5.5 WAR with a FIP (fielding independent pitching) of 2.57. He is also currently leading the American League in hits per 9 innings (6.1). But aside from his league leading numbers, Verlander has performed and put on arguably his best season so far in his 17 year career in the majors.
N.L. Cy Young: Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins
Honorable Mentions: Julio Urias (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Max Fried (Atlanta Braves)
Although the Miami Marlins haven’t put together a team worthy of a playoff berth, the ace of their rotation, Sandy Alcantara, rose to the top as the face of their franchise. Pre All-Star break, Alcantara was almost a shoo-in to win the Cy Young award, and even though he didn’t perform nearly as well as he did in the first half, his overall numbers compared to other starting pitchers in the National League still put him at the top for this award. Alcantara is leading the league in games started (32) and innings pitched (228.2), posting a 14-9 record for the season, also leading the league in complete games (6) and shutouts (1). He’s put up a 2.28 ERA with a .980 WHIP and FIP of 2.99, and is leading the league in batters faced (886) and posted an 8.1 WAR for the season.
A.L. Rookie of the Year: Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners
Honorable Mentions: Adley Rutschman (Baltimore Orioles) and Bobby Witt Jr. (Kansas City Royals)
In what would be his first full season in the major leagues, the Seattle Mariners’ former top prospect, Julio Rodriguez, performed to his expectations and helped push the Mariners to a playoff berth— their first in 21 years. In his rookie season, “J-Rod” earned his first All-Star appearance, competed in the Home Run Derby and produced heavily throughout the season, while slotting in as the Mariners’ everyday center fielder. This season, Rodriguez had a BA .280, an OBP of .342 and a SLG of .502 with 27 home runs and 73 RBIs and a 5.7 WAR.
N.L. Rookie of the Year: Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves
Honorable Mentions: Michael Harris III (Atlanta Braves) and Seiya Suzuki (Chicago Cubs)
It almost seemed like the Braves’ couldn’t get any stronger as a team than they were last season as the World Series champions. But their young, breakout starting pitcher in Spencer Strider most definitely performed atop the Braves’ starting rotation. Starting in 31 games this season and pitching 131.2 innings, Strider posted a record of 11-5. He put up a 2.67 ERA, with a 0.995 WHIP and a 1.83 FIP with 202 strikeouts and a 3.8 WAR. Now as the Braves’ push to be crowned the National League East Division winners, the young rookie should become a part of their starting rotation come the playoffs and should most definitely be crowned the winner of this award.
A.L. Most Improved Player: Andrés Giménez, Cleveland Guardians
Honorable Mentions: Ryne Stanek (Houston Astros) and Alejandro Kirk (Toronto Blue Jays)
In what became a surprising season for the newly rebranded Cleveland Guardians in which their 7% chance of winning the division became an actuality, their young roster proved to be another feel-good story for baseball. One who led their offensive charge was Andrés Giménez, who has become a notable player for himself and has improved his playing performance all season long. Making his first All-Star appearance this year in Los Angeles was certainly deserved for Giménez whose numbers are a huge improvement from his previous seasons. Aside from the fact that he has stayed healthy and a consistent part of the Guardians’ lineup, he still produced and became a very valuable player for the Guardians this season. This season, Giménez has a BA of .302, an OBP of .373 and a SLG of .475 with 17 home runs, 68 RBIs and a 7.2 WAR, all are career high numbers for him in his early season as a major leaguer.
N.L. Most Improved Player: Tyler Anderson, Los Angeles Dodgers
Honorable Mentions: Francisco Lindor (New York Mets) and Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals)
The Dodgers’ magical season hasn’t only come from the performance of their lineup and their offense, their pitching has also been one of the best in the national league even with injuries to their aces— Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler— thanks to pitchers like Tyler Anderson. Before this season, Anderson had put up average numbers, mainly with the Colorado Rockies, but since joining the Dodgers on a one year deal, he has stepped up his pitching performance and pitched to higher standards than ever before in his career, even making his first All-Star performance in front of the fans in Los Angeles this year. This season being his career best, Anderson has a record of 15-5 through 178.2 innings pitched. He has put up a 2.57 ERA, a WHIP of 1.002, a FIP of 3.31 and posted a WAR of 4.2.