With the 2022 season in the rear view mirror, MLB players are already thinking ahead to the 2023 season. Some MLB players will have contracts to square away before they get to that point, but even they are focused on recovering from last season and preparing for the next – it’s a never-ending cycle for them.
They might be ready to move forward, but we’re not. We’re still marveling at some of the things we’ve seen this season – the performances, the milestones, the ups and downs, the drama, the heartbreak, the triumph. It was an exciting season full of surprises, which is exactly what we expect out of MLB players.
By season’s end, it was the Houston Astros who were crowned champions for the second time in six years – they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in six games (4-2). The Astros, managed by Dusty Baker, were as dominant in the regular season as they were in the postseason – a recipe for success any year.
RELATED: Breaking Down the Winners of the MLB Players Choice Awards 2022
Who Were the 10 Best MLB Players This Season?
Every year, we see a handful of MLB players stand out from the crowd with their incredible play. Some of these players are expected to be great, while others come forward as a pleasant surprise. Either way, these MLB players are often rewarded for their excellence – not just with praise, but with a hefty raise.
The 2022 season saw 11 MLB players finish with a batting average above .300, 10 players with at least 35 home runs, 13 players with at least 100 runs batted in, 36 players with at least 150 hits, 10 players with at least 100 runs, six players with at least 30 stolen bases, and 16 players with at least five triples.
As far as pitchers go, the 2022 season saw 19 MLB players finish the season with an ERA under 3.00, 14 players with at least 15 wins, 10 players with at least 30 saves, 35 players with at least 175.0 innings pitched, 11 players with at least 200 strikeouts, and 43 players with at least 30 games started.
Let’s take a look at 10 of the most impressive MLB players this season!
10. Austin Riley
Austin Riley was playing in his fourth season in the major leagues – all of which with the Atlanta Braves. He played in 159 games and had a .273 batting average with 168 hits, 39 doubles, 2 triples, 38 home runs, 93 runs batted in, and 90 runs scored. He was a finalist for the NL Outstanding Player award.
Riley has been on a tear the past two seasons. The third baseman has only missed five games in that time and is batting .288 with 347 hits, 72 doubles, 3 triples, 71 home runs, 200 runs batted in, and 181 runs scored. He set career-highs in home runs, doubles, triples, and total bases during the 2022 season.
9. Pete Alonso
Pete Alonso just finished his fourth season in the MLB – all of which with the New York Mets. He played in 160 games (only missed 2 games) and had a batting average of .271 with 162 hits, 27 doubles, 40 home runs, 131 runs batted in, and 95 runs scored. He also made his second All-Star appearance.
Alonso has been one of the best first baseman in the league since making his MLB debut in 2019. Through four seasons (530 games), he has a .261 batting average, 512 hits, 90 doubles, 5 triples, 146 home runs, 380 runs batted in, and 310 runs scored. He was the MLB co-leader with 131 runs batted in.
8. Dylan Cease
Dylan Cease just finished his fourth season in the major leagues – all of which with the Chicago White Sox. He started 32 games for the second consecutive season in Chicago, ending the year with a 14-8 record (.636 win pct.). He also finished with a 2.20 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 184.0 innings pitched.
After a 13-7 record a year ago, Cease set new career-highs in wins, ERA, strikeouts, and innings pitched. Despite pitching nearly 20 more innings compared to last season, Cease allowed less hits, runs, home runs, hit by pitches, balks, and wild pitches. The only stat he did worse in is walks, which he led the MLB.
7. Xander Bogaerts
Xander Bogaerts just finished his 10th season in the major leagues – all with the Boston Red Sox. He’s one of the most consistent shortstops in the MLB, appearing in 150 games this season. He finished the year with a .307 batting average, 171 hits, 38 doubles, 15 home runs, 73 RBIs, and 84 runs scored.
For his efforts, Bogaerts earned a spot on the All-Star team and won a Silver Slugger award – he placed ninth in the MVP race. It was nowhere near the best season of his career, but he does everything you need out of a shortstop – both at the plate and in the infield. He’ll likely play for a new team next year.
6. Freddie Freeman
Freddie Freeman just finished his 13th season in the major leagues and fist season with the Los Angeles Dodgers – he spent 12 years with the Atlanta Braves. He appeared in 159 games in 2022, finishing with a .325 batting average, 199 hits, 47 doubles, 2 triples, 21 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 117 runs scored.
Freeman was everything you hoped for at the plate. He not only led the NL in runs scored and plate appearances, but he led the entire MLB in hits and doubles. He was an All-Star for the sixth time in his career and placed fourth in MVP voting – an award he won with the Atlanta Braves in 2020.
5. Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani just finished his fifth season in the major leagues – all of which with the Los Angeles Angels. Coming off an MVP season a year ago, Ohtani continued to prove why he’s one of the most versatile players in the league today – having success at the plate and on the mound all year long.
Ohtani finished the season with a .273 batting average, 160 hits, 30 doubles, 6 triples, 34 home runs, 95 RBIs, and 90 runs scored. He also had a 15-9 record as starting pitcher, throwing a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 166.0 innings pitched. He placed fourth in Cy Young voting and second in MVP voting.
4. Sandy Alcantara
Sandy Alcantara just finished his sixth season in the major leagues and fifth season with the Miami Marlins. Coming off a 9-15 season a year ago, he had the best season of his career in 2022 – ending the year with a 14-9 record, 2.28 ERA, 6 complete games, one shutout, and 207 strikeouts in 228.2 innings.
He proved to be one of the best pitchers in the league this season, evidenced by his All-Star appearance and NL Cy Young Award – which he won unanimously. He led the entire MLB in innings pitched and complete games in a breakout season at 26 years old, so we’re excited to see what he does next year.
3. Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander just finished his 17th season in the major leagues and fourth full season with the Houston Astros. He’s one of those players that seems to get better with age and absolutely put the league on notice this season as MLB’s best pitcher – despite missing all of 2021 due to Tommy John surgery.
Verlander finished 2022 with an 18-4 record (led the AL), 1.75 ERA (led the MLB), and 185 strikeouts in 175.0 innings pitched (28 starts). He won the AL Cy Young Award, AL Comeback Player of the Year Award, and AL Outstanding Pitcher Award – his third Cy Young and third Comeback Player of the Year.
2. Paul Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt just finished his 12th season in the major leagues and fourth season with the St. Louis Cardinals. If you want a consistent player, there aren’t many that are more consistent than Goldschmidt. He finished with a .317 batting average, 178 hits, 41 doubles, 35 home runs, 115 RBIs, and 106 runs.
Goldschmidt has now batted at least .300 in five seasons and hit at least 30 home runs in seven seasons. In 151 games played, he led the NL in slugging and OPS+. By year’s end, he won his first MVP award – while also making his seventh All-Star appearance and winning his fifth career Silver Slugger award.
1. Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge had one of the most historic seasons of all-time. It was his seventh season in the major leagues – all of which with the New York Yankees. While we don’t know if he’ll be back with the Yankees next season, it’s safe to say the outfielder ended on a high note – breaking the AL home run record.
In 157 games played, Judge batted a .311 with 177 hits, 28 doubles, 62 home runs, 131 runs batted in, and 133 runs scored. He led the MLB in home runs, RBIs, runs scored, total bases, OBP, slugging, and OPS+. He was named the AL MVP, AL Outstanding Player, Player of the Year, and Silver Slugger Award.
Who Were the 10 Worst MLB Players This Season?
While some MLB players leave us with our jaws dropped in amazement, others leave us shaking our heads in disappointment. Not everyone is going to have a good season – in fact, some MLB players are going to have a season they’d like to forget. And that was certainly the case for some this season.
It’s the type of season that could ruin an MLB players’ career. After all, this is a ‘what have you done for me, lately?’ type of league and if you don’t perform well – even for a season – then teams won’t hesitate to find a replacement. There are hundreds of other players who would jump at the opportunity to play.
That’s not to say the 10 players listed below will be out of the league next season, but they’ll definitely have to improve quickly if they want a chance. If they can prove this season was a fluke, then they can still have a successful career – if they haven’t already. Without further ado, let’s meet who they are!
10. Mark Melancon
Mark Melancon just finished his 14th season in the major leagues and his first season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was coming off a 2021 season with the San Diego Padres that saw him lead the MLB in saves (39) and saw him make his fourth All-Star appearance. Expectations were high for him in 2022.
How did he respond? Not very well. Despite signing a record deal with Arizona last offseason, he had a hard time keeping his role as closer. He finished the season with just 18 saves (21 opportunities) in 62 games played and had a 3-10 record. His 4.66 ERA was atrocious and he allowed five home runs.
9. Josh Hader
Josh Hader just finished his sixth season in the major leagues – he was traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline. At the time of the trade, Hader was leading the league in saves (29), but he had a 4.24 ERA, 1-4 record, and allowed seven home runs in 34.0 innings pitched.
He struggled at times with the Brewers, but things only got worse when he joined the Padres. In 19 games and 16.0 innings pitched, Hader had a 7.31 ERA, 1-1 record, and just seven saves. It was a poor showing for a guy who was expected to hold down the back end of the bullpen, but it didn’t work out well.
8. Max Muncy
Max Muncy just finished his seventh season in the major leagues and fifth season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Excluding the shortened 2020 season, Muncy had hit at least 35 home runs in each of the past three seasons and was batting around .250 during that time. He was productive and a valuable asset.
In 2022, Muncy batted just .196 in 464 at-bats. He had just 91 hits, 21 home runs, 69 runs batted in, and 69 runs scored – all of which were his lowest since joining LA. In the field, he had a total of 12 errors – 10 of which came in 84 games as a third baseman. He had a total of three errors all of last season in LA.
7. Cody Bellinger
Cody Bellinger just finished his sixth season in the major leagues – all of which with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He used to have one of the better bats in the league, but that bat has gone extremely cold over the past two years and it has many people wondering if a change in scenery is what he needs right now.
Bellinger hit 111 home runs through his first three years with the club – and another 12 home runs in the shortened 2020 season (he was on pace for about 36). Unfortunately, he has only hit 29 in the past two seasons – including 19 this year. He also batted just .210 and had 150 strikeouts. He’s capable of more.
6. Joey Votto
Joey Votto just finished 16th season in the major leagues – all of which with the Cincinnati Reds. He had a comeback year last season, putting up numbers he hasn’t seen since 2017. He finished 2021 with a .266 batting average, 119 hits, 36 home runs, 99 runs batted in, 73 runs scored, and 23 doubles.
Unfortunately, that momentum didn’t transfer into his 2022 campaign. Instead, he finished the season with a .205 batting average, 66 hits, 18 doubles, 11 home runs, 41 runs batted in, and 31 runs scored. He only played in 91 games and was battling a torn labrum and torn bicep – so hopefully it was just a fluke year.
5. Trent Grisham
Trent Grisham just finished his fourth season in the major leagues and third season with the San Diego Padres. Through his first three seasons, he batted .243 with 31 home runs, 112 RBIs, and 127 runs scored in 242 games. 2022 saw him play 152 games – 20 more than he played in any other season.
We definitely saw some good from him – after all, he did earn a Golden Glove award at centerfield – but his batting average dipped to .184 (lowest of his career). While his 17 home runs was a career-high, he only had 53 RBIs and 58 runs scored – both of which were lower than last season (20 games less).
4. Patrick Corbin
Patrick Corbin just finished his 10th season in the major leagues and fourth season with the Washington Nationals. He was a top pitcher between 2017 and 2019, but has been on a rapid decline ever since and had career-lows in 2021. We didn’t think it could get any worse, but that’s exactly what happened in 2022.
In 2022, Corbin had a 6-19 record (31 starts) with a 6.31 ERA, and 128 strikeouts in 152.2 innings pitched. He led the entire MLB in losses, hits allowed, and earned runs. He also allowed 27 home runs – he allowed 37 last year, the most in the MLB. After these past two seasons, he shouldn’t have a job.
3. Fernando Tatis Jr.
Fernando Tatis Jr. entered the 2022 season as one of the most exciting young players with the brightest future. He was coming off a career year that saw him bat .282 with 135 hits, 31 doubles, 42 home runs, 97 runs batted in, 99 runs scored, and 25 stolen bases. He was ready to have an even better 2022.
Unfortunately, his season was delayed after having surgery to repair a fractured scaphoid bone. To make matters worse, he was suspended 80 games after testing positive for Clostebol, an anabolic steroid and banned substance in the MLB. The best ability is availability, and he didn’t play a single game in 2022.
2. Yusei Kikuchi
Yusei Kikuchi just finished his fourth season in the major leagues and first season with the Toronto Blue Jays. After a mediocre three years with the Seattle Mariners, the Blue Jays were hoping to strike gold by signing him to a three-year contract that paid him $16 million in the first year. Expectations were high.
He stole $16 million from the Blue Jays – alright, it wasn’t all bad, but he definitely didn’t show the type of improvement Toronto wanted to see out of him. He went just 6-7 with a 5.19 ERA in 32 games and 20 starts. He threw 124 strikeouts and allowed 23 home runs in 100.2 innings pitched. Not good enough.
1. Marcell Ozuna
Marcell Ozuna just finished his 10th season in the major leagues and third season with the Atlanta Braves. He had a career year during the shortened 2020 season, which raised expectations for him heading into 2021. The Braves won the World Series that year, but with no help from Ozuna.
He only played in 48 games in 2021, missing most of the season after facing domestic abuse allegations. He was arrested again in August 2022 and only played 124 games this season, again underachieving. He batted a .226 with 106 hits, 23 home runs, 19 doubles, 56 runs batted in, and 56 runs scored.
MLB Players to Keep an Eye On This Offseason
Well, there you have it – your 10 best and 10 worst MLB players of the 2022 season. Now that we’ve taken a moment to reminisce about some of the winners and losers this season, we can finally start looking ahead to what lies down the road. Don’t worry, the 2022-23 offseason will be one for the books!
Some of the free agent MLB players we’re keeping an eye on this offseason are Aaron Judge, Jacob DeGrom, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Justin Verlander, Carlos Correa, Carlos Rodon, Edwin Diaz, Dansby Swanson, Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Anderson, Jose Abreu, and Kodai Senga.
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There’s a lot to look forward to next season as teams begin the process all over again. While the Houston Astros are the defending champions, it’s a new season and anything is possible – will we see a repeat or will we see a new team take the throne? Only time will tell, but that’s what makes baseball so exciting!
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