As the Postseason rages on, we wanted to try our hand at deciding the major awards given out by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). All the classics are here from MVP to Cy Young Award, Manager of the Year to Rookie of the Year. We even threw in Reliever of the Year because, darn it, those guys deserve credit too!
37 of our staff were asked to vote on who they thought deserved each award. For MVP and Cy Young, voters were asked to rank their top three candidates in each league. Players received points on a 3-2-1 scale; three points for a first-place vote, two for second, etc.
With that, let’s see who our 37 voters would award after the 2022 season!
American League MVP
1. Aaron Judge, OF, NYY (29 first-place votes)
.311/.425/.686, 62 HR, 207 wRC+, 10.6 bWAR
It likely won’t surprise you to see that the AL MVP is a two-horse race. Between Aaron Judge’s historic season and Shohei Ohtani’s continued baseball masterclass. Our 37 voters awarded Judge the MVP with 27 first-place votes and 8 second-place votes. Judge’s 10.6 bWAR is the 6th best single-season total since 2000, topped only by Barry Bonds (2001, 2002, 2004), Pedro Martinez (2000), and Mookie Betts (2018). Tack on his AL-record 62 home runs and the argument for Judge as the MVP is easy to understand.
2. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, LAA (8 first-place votes)
.273/.356./519, 34 HR, 142 wRC+, 9.6 bWAR
166 IP, 219 K, 2.33 ERA, 1.01 WHIP
What more is there to say about Ohtani? The man is a player the likes of which has never been seen in the sport. He threw 166 Cy Young-worthy innings while also totaling 666 plate appearances. In the last two years, he has played in 315 of 324 games, pitching in 51 of them. Three years ago, even the most avid of Ohtani believers likely didn’t see this kind of consistency as a likely outcome. Yet, the Era of Sho seems like it is only just beginning. I certainly can’t fault the 8 voters that gave him a first-place vote.
National League MVP
1. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, STL (31 first-place votes)
.317/.404/.578, 35 HR, 177 wRC+, 7.8 bWAR
The runaway leader on the NL side of the MVP vote was St. Louis first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt. The 34-year-old veteran had one of the best seasons of his career, posting career-best figures in batting average and slugging percentage. While his defense may have slipped a bit compared to years past, it’s hard to ignore the production he gave the Cardinals at the plate. Goldy received 31 first-place votes along with 5 second-place votes for a point total of 103.
2. Manny Machado, 3B, SD (3 first-place votes)
.298/.375/.639, 32 HR, 152 wRC+, 6.8 bWAR
With 3 first place, 12 second, and 9 third, Manny Machado earned second place in our NL MVP vote with a score of 42 points. He may not be the only superstar in San Diego anymore, but he was certainly among the most productive this past season. While his once-renowned defensive prowess has fallen a bit (he posted a Defensive Runs Saved figure below league average for the first time in his career) this was the best full season he has given the Padres since joining the team in 2019. San Diego will need his bat to stay hot next season as they vie for their first NL Pennant since 1998.
3. Nolan Arenado, 3B, STL (2 first-place votes)
.293/.358/.533, 30 HR, 151 wRC+, 7.9 bWAR
While his teammate may be receiving love from our writers, Nolan Arenado certainly deserves his own consideration. Our voters gave him 2 first-place votes, 10 second, and 11 third-place for a point total of 37. Some were ready to dismiss Arenado as a superstar after his relatively lackluster 2021 debut in St. Louis (if you can call 34 homers and 105 RBI lackluster). Yet, the 31-year-old veteran was in prime form this past year, leading NL position players in bWAR, due in large part to his stellar defense. His 15 Outs Above Average was the 6th best in the National League while he had the third most Defensive Runs Saved with 19.
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B, LAD (1 first-place vote)
.325/.407/.511, 21 HR, 157 wRC+, 5.9 bWAR
In his first season outside of Atlanta, Freddie Freeman simply put up one of the best seasons of his career. Our voters gave him 1 first-place vote, 5 second, and 10 third-place for a total of 23 points. While his power numbers may have decreased, he led the Senior Circuit in hits, runs, doubles, on-base percentage, and, for the second year in a row, plate appearances. Freeman is one of the most consistent hitters in baseball and will likely remain in the MVP conversation for years to come.
American League Cy Young
1. Justin Verlander, RHP, HOU (29 first-place votes)
175 IP, 185 SO, 1.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 5.9 bWAR
Guys, I think Justin Verlander might be pretty good at throwing a ball. In all seriousness, the man is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer and at thirty-nine years of age put up another incredible season. He led the AL in ERA and WHIP, which is all you can ask of an ace. This would be his third Cy Young award, and clearly, our voters, who gave him a 99-point total, think he deserves it.
2. Dylan Cease, RHP, CHW (4 first-place votes)
184 IP, 227 SO, 2.20 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 6.4 bWAR
With the inconsistency of Lucas Giolito and the health issues of Lance Lynn and Micheal Kopech, White Sox fans were elated to see Dylan Cease step up as the team’s new ace. He may have led the league in walks, but his 11.1 K/9 was bested only by Ohtani and Gerrit Cole. He may not have been as consistently sharp as Verlander, but at 26 years old, the best may be yet to come from Cease. If he can produce a similar season next year while Giolito, Lynn, and Kopech each stay healthy, the White Sox could easily find themselves back atop the AL Central. Our voters awarded Cease 4 first-place votes along with 18 second, and 11 3rd for a point total of 59.
3. Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, LAA (3 first-place votes)
166 IP, 219 K, 2.33 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 6.1 Pitching bWAR
Here we are again. If Ohtani were to commit himself to either pitching or hitting alone, he would likely be the best in the league. As it is, here’s near the best at both which is simply incredible. Our voters awarded the phenom 3 first-place votes, 11 second, and 12 third for 43 points total.
4. Shane McClanahan, LHP, TB (1 first-place vote)
166.1 IP, 194 SO, 2.54 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 4.0 bWAR
In his second season in the majors, Shane McClanahan emerged as the next great Tampa Bay ace. From an organization that has a history of producing incredible pitchers, McClanahan did something we don’t see much from starters in Tampa: long outings. McClanahan averaged 5.94 innings per start, with 19 of his 28 starts lasting at least six innings. While he did struggle a bit with shoulder and neck issues, the 25-year-old lefty could be a mainstay in the Cy Young conversation for years to come. We gave him 13 points with 1 first-place vote, 3 second, and 4 third.
National League Cy Young
1. Sandy Alcantara, RHP, MIA (32 first-place votes)
228.2 IP, 207 SO, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 8.1 bWAR
It is my honest opinion that Sandy Alcantara might be the best pitcher in the National League. Sure, inning to inning deGrom or Burnes might be better, but over the past two years Alcantara leads all of baseball with 434.1 innings pitched, well ahead of Adam Wainwright and Aaron Nola’s 398 and 385.2 respective marks. He is an absolute workhorse and among the best in the game. Nobody received more first-place votes in our poll than Alcantara, netting him 103 total points.
2. Julio Urías, LHP, LAD (2 first-place votes)
175 IP, 166 SO, 2.16 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 4.9 bWAR
Dodgers fans have been waiting since 2016 for Julio Urías to put up a season like this. He led the NL in ERA and has shown he can stay healthy, pitching in 63 starts in the last two seasons. He may not have the lights-out stuff that others may boast, but he limits walks and induces soft contact. Our voters awarded him 2 first-place votes, 15 second, and 8 third for a total of 44 points.
3. Zac Gallen, RHP, ARI (2 first-place votes)
184 IP, 192 SO, 2.54 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 5.1 bWAR
Fun fact: Zac Gallen and I were born on the exact same day. Secondary fun fact: our voters gave Gallen 2 first-place votes, 7 second, and 8 third for a total of 28 points, and it’s easy to see why. The former Marlin put in the best season of his young career, leading the league in WHIP and hits per 9. Like Alcantara, Gallen is a pitcher that is just as happy to get you to ground out as he is to strike you out. That combination will likely have these two competing for the NL Cy Young for years to come.
This was the vote with the largest spread of points. Max Fried received 19, Aaron Nola got 11 with a first-place vote, and Carlos Rodón also got 11. Others include Corbin Burnes (4), Kyle Wright (3), and Edwin Díaz (1).
American League Rookie of the Year
1. Julio Rodríguez, OF, SEA (92% of the vote)
.284/.357/.435, 28 HR, 146 wRC+, 6.0 bWAR
In what seems like a never-ending line of top prospects immediately succeeding at the big league level, next up is Julio Rodríguez. The case for his RoY candidacy is simple: he led all MLB rookies in HR and WAR while playing respectable centerfield defense and leading Seattle to their first playoff berth in decades.
2. Adley Rutschman, C, BAL (8% of the vote)
.254/.362/.445, 13 HR, 133 wRC+, 5.2 bWAR
Adley Rutschman has been touted as the best catching prospect in a decade, and he may have proven believers right in 2022. Among catchers with at least 400 PAs, Rutschman was second only to J.T. Realmuto in WAR, despite playing only 113 games. His defense is great and his bat could reasonably improve as he gets comfortable managing a big-league workload. The Orioles clearly have a special player on their hands.
I wanted to give a shoutout to Steven Kwan of the Guardians for his impressive rookie campaign. While he may take a backseat to Rodríguez and Rutschman, Kwan’s 2022 was nothing to sniff at. He led all left fielders with 12 outs above average while putting up a .298/.373/.400 slashline over 147 games. He even walked more than he struck out and stole 19 bases en route to a 5.5 bWAR.
National League Rookie of the Year
1. Michael Harris II, OF, ATL (57% of the vote)
.297/.339/.514, 19 HR, 136 wRC+, 5.3 bWAR
As an Atlanta fan, I had the utter joy of watching two fantastic rookie seasons firsthand. After we traded Cristian Pache to Oakland for Matt Olson, the future of centerfield in Truist Park seemed hazy. In steps Michael Harris II with his near 20/20 season and Gold Glove-level defense quickly followed by Alex Anthopoulos with an 8-year, $72 million contract that keeps Harris on the team through at least 2030. The future is bright for Atlanta baseball fans, and Harris would be a shoo-in for the Rookie of the Year award if it weren’t for his teammate.
2. Spencer Strider, RHP, ATL (43% of the vote)
131.2 IP, 202 K, 2.67 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 3.7 bWAR
Guys, Spencer Strider’s stuff is absolutely filthy, but you don’t need me to tell you that. He broke Randy Johnson’s record as the fastest pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts in a season in just 130 innings. And, once again, we see Mr. Anthopoulos pop in to buy out Strider’s arbitration years with a 6-year, $75 million contract, keeping the electric arm in Atlanta through at least 2029. While an oblique injury hampered the end of his debut season, no pitcher was as exciting to watch in 2022 as the Silver Strider!
My NL honorable mention goes to the journeyman rookie, Joey Meneses. The 30-year-old rookie was finally given his shot at the bigs after ten seasons toiling in the minors, and he certainly made the most of it! Meneses slashed .324.367/.563 in 240 plate appearances, clubbing 13 homers along the way. He was a bright spot in an otherwise ugly season for the Washington Nationals. His story is inspiring and I hope he continues to succeed going forward!
American League Manager of the Year
1. Brandon Hyde, BAL, 83-79, expected 62-100 (43% of the vote)
Everyone loves an underdog story, and the Baltimore Orioles sure gave us one this summer. For a time, it seemed they might challenge for a Postseason slot, but I’m sure their fans are happy to settle for their first winning record since 2016. In the preseason, FiveThirtyEight had the O’s slotted to be the worst team in baseball with a run differential of -182. Instead, Hyde’s team finished 27 games above that mark with a respectable -14 run differential.
2. Scott Servais, SEA, 90-72, expected 80-82 (29% of the vote)
Everyone wants to see their team compete in the Postseason, but few fans wanted it more than the Seattle Mariners. After oh so nearly reaching October baseball last season, Scott Servais’ team finally ended their 21-year playoff drought, the longest in American professional sports! The team showed promise in 2021, but FiveThirtyEight still projected them to finish third in the AL West with just a 32% chance at a playoff berth. With the addition of rookie sensation Julio Rodríguez and key deadline acquisitions like Luis Castillo, Mariners fans were finally treated to a dance at the ball!
3. Terry Francona, CLE, 92-70, expected 78-84 (22% of the vote)
We all know the AL Central was a hot mess, but someone had to come out on top. This year it was Tito Francona’s Guardians. The Guards to care of business when they were playing their own division, finishing the year with a 47-29 record against AL Central opponents, but they still held their own outside of the midwest as well. Against all other teams, Cleveland finished with a 45-41 record en route to the team’s first playoff appearance under their new moniker and the first for Cleveland since 2020.
National League Manager of the Year
1. Oliver Marmol, STL, 93-69, expected 81-81 (38% of the vote)
The youngest manager in baseball would be the recipient of the Manager of the Year if it were up to Pitcher List! Oliver Marmol’s first managerial stint was one for the scrapbooks. It saw the resurgence and retirement of three Cardinals legends as well as the team’s first NL Central title since 2019. Take into account FiveThirtEight’s tepid prediction of a .500 season with a perfectly equal run differential, and Marmol’s squad far exceeded expectations. They finished 7 games ahead of Milwaukee with a +135 run differential, good for 6th best in baseball.
2. Buck Showalter, NYM, 101-61, expected 84-78 (27% of the vote)
From a manager in his first year to one in his 21st, 27% of our voters would give the award to Buck Showalter. The baseball vet led his Mets to their best record since the legendary 1986 World Champion team. While they may not have won the NL East, the Mets were consistently one of the best teams in baseball all season, finishing the year with the fifth-best run differential.
3. Brian Snitker, ATL, 101-61, expected 93-69 (19% of the vote)
Brian Snitker and his reigning champions were in a “prove it” year. Winning a title after only an 88-win season certainly gains you a few doubters, but Snit’s team put that to rest in 2022. Even after the departure of Freddie Freeman, Atlanta achieved their first 100+ win season since 2003 while dramatically claiming their fifth consecutive NL East title.
American League Reliever of the Year
Emmanuel Clase, RP, CLE (89% of the vote)
72.2 IP, 77 K, 1.36 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 42 SV, 2.8 bWAR
This was our most lopsided vote of the bunch, where no other player received more than one vote. The absolute dominance of Emmanuel Clase’s 2022 speaks for itself. The 24-year-old righty anchored Cleveland’s bullpen all season, earned his first All-Star nod, and was a key piece in bringing the Guardians back to the Postseason.
National League Reliever of the Year
1. Edwin Díaz, RP, NYM (81% of the vote)
62 IP, 118 K, 1.31 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 32 SV, 3.2 bWAR
It’s easy to see why our voters would award Edwin Díaz with the NL Reliever of the Year. He was absolutely dominant, overpowering batters all season. He is the first pitcher to strike out more than half the batters he faced since Craig Kimbrel in 2012 (min. 60 IP)! The Mets relied on him throughout the season and he helped lead the team to 101 wins, personally locking down 32 of them.
2. Ryan Helsley, RP, STL (14% of the vote)
64.2 IP, 94 K, 1.25 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 19 SV, 2.7 bWAR
The Cardinals’ Ryan Helsley received 5 votes from our staff, all well-deserved. He had the second-lowest ERA among qualified NL relievers, the lowest NL WHIP, and the best strand rate in baseball at 93.4%. While Díaz did 79% of his work in the 9th inning. Helsley only spent 60% of his time there, pitching 26.2 innings of 0.76 ERA, holding batters to just a .101 batting average.
Two votes were thrown to Evan Phillips of the Dodgers, who led NL relievers with a 1.14 ERA across 63 innings.
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire | Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)