With the 2023 World Series quickly coming to a screeching halt, the baseball community will soon turn their attention to all the newly-available MLB free agents currently looking for a major league contract. And while we see big name players hit the market every year, this offseason will feature some of the best.
The 2023 MLB offseason officially begins the day after the final game of the World Series – which will either be November 6th (if the World Series ends after Game 6 on Sunday) or November 7th (if the World Series ends after Game 7 on Monday). Either way, we’re less than one week away from the offseason.
Once that day finally comes, all baseball players without contracts will officially become MLB free agents. A five-day ‘quiet period’ will commence, where MLB free agents can only speak with the team they last played for. After that five-day quiet period, all chaos – I mean excitement – breaks loose. We can’t wait!
Who Are the Top MLB Free Agents This Offseason?
Unlike in other American sports, baseball players normally have to dedicate six years to the major leagues before having the ability to enter free agency. The primary exception to this rule is if a player is released by a team before reaching that six-year mark. At that point, they can become a free agent.
Once MLB free agents officially hit the market, they’re ‘free’ to speak with any team that’s interested in them. Unless the player has a team option in their previous contract, MLB free agents have complete control over who they choose to play with – so long as they can agree to a contract with that team.
There are a lot of ins-and-outs to the free agency process, but we can disregard all of that for a moment – let’s leave that boring stuff for the general managers and owners of the league. Instead, let’s take a look at some of the top MLB free agents that could shake up the entire landscape of the MLB next season.
20. Martin Perez
Martin Perez is a 31-year-old Venezuelan starting pitcher who played for the Texas Rangers this season. He recorded 32 starts this year and had a 12-8 record on the mound – he had a 2.89 ERA, 169 strikeouts, one complete game, and one shutout in 196.1 innings pitched, earning him his first All-Star appearance.
Perez will be entering his 12th season in the league – he spent seven years with Texas between 2012 and 2018 before short stints with the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. He’s coming off one of the best seasons of his career, so he can definitely expect to have a few teams calling his phone this winter.
19. J.D. Martinez
J.D. Martinez is a 35-year-old American designated hitter who played for the Boston Red Sox this year. He finished the season with a .274 batting average, 146 hits, 43 doubles (career-high), one triple, 16 home runs, 62 RBIs, and 76 runs. He earned an All-Star nod for the fifth time – second consecutive.
Martinez will be entering his 13th season in the major leagues and all signs are pointing to him finding a new jersey to wear next year – after five straight seasons in Boston, his longest stint with a single team. With 282 career home runs and more than 1,500 hits, he’s ready to prove he still has a lot left in the tank.
18. Anthony Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo is a 33-year-old American first baseman who played for the New York Yankees this past season – his first full season with the team after being traded to New York before the deadline last year. He had a .224 batting average with 104 hits, 21 doubles, one triple, 32 home runs, 75 RBIs, and 77 runs.
RIzzo will be entering his 13th season in the major leagues. He proved he can still hit the ball hard – his 32 home runs ranked tied-15th in the MLB and tied-7th in the American League. His batting average took a hit, however – his lowest batting average since 2020 and third-lowest batting average of his career.
17. Josh Bell
Josh Bell is a 30-year-old American first baseman who played 103 games with the Washington Nationals and 49 games with the San Diego Padres this past season – he was involved in the trade that sent Juan Soto to San Diego. He batted .266 on the year with 147 hits, 17 home runs, 71 RBIs, and 78 runs scored.
Bell was having a fantastic year with Washington before the trade – which is when his numbers took a massive dip. He was batting .301 with the Nats (375 at-bats), but only had a .192 average with the Padres (177 at-bats) to end the season. He’ll look to return to form in 2023, no matter which team he plays for.
16. Willson Contreras
Willson Contreras is a 30-year-old Venezuelan catcher who played 113 games with the Chicago Cubs this past season – he has spent his entire seven-year career in Chi-Town. He finished the campaign with a .243 batting average, 101 hits, 23 doubles, two triples, 22 home runs, 55 RBIs, and 65 runs scored.
Contreras was named an All-Star in 2022, the third All-Star nod of his career. He has been as consistent as they come since making his debut in 2016 – hitting at least 20 home runs in four of his seven seasons and at least 50 RBIs in five of them. The 2016 World Series champ can leave Chicago, if he wanted to.
15. Chris Bassitt
Chris Bassitt is a 33-year-old American starting pitcher who started 30 games for the New York Mets this past season – it was his first season with the team after spending six straight years in Oakland. He finished the 2022 campaign with a 15-9 record, 3.42 ERA, and 167 strikeouts in 181.2 innings pitched.
Bassitt failed to finish top-10 in Cy Young voting for the first time since 2019 – he came in eighth in 2020 and 10th in 2021. He’s now 27-13 over the past two seasons and has three seasons with at least 10 wins since 2019. He’s a reliable starting pitcher who will have options to consider this free agency period.
14. Kodai Senga
Kodai Senga is one of the most talked about MLB free agents this season. The 29-year-old Japanese starting pitcher has played professional baseball since 2012, but is finally making the trip to the United States to join the MLB after spending 11 seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan.
Senga isn’t as hyped or talented of a player as Shohei Ohtani, but he will garner quite a bit of interest from teams around the league. He has an 87-44 record over the past 11 seasons in the NPL, including at least 10 wins in each of the past seven seasons. He strikes out plenty and doesn’t give up a lot of runs.
13. Brandon Nimmo
Brandon Nimmo is a 29-year-old American outfielder who played 151 games with the New York Mets this past season – he has spent his entire seven-year major league career with the team and just had the best season of his career. He finished with a .274 batting average, 16 home runs, 64 RBIs, and 102 runs.
Nimmo set career-highs in hits, runs, RBIs, doubles, and triples – he led the National League with seven triples on the year. He spends most of his time in center field, but can play right or left field, if needed. There’s rumors that the Mets will prioritize him as a free agent, but he could still end up elsewhere.
12. Jose Abreu
Jose Abreu is a 35-year-old Cuban first baseman who played 157 games with the Chicago White Sox this past season – he has spent his entire nine-year major league career with them. He finished the 2022 campaign with a .304 batting average, 183 hits, 15 home runs, 75 runs batted in, and 85 runs scored.
Abreu hit above .300 for the fourth time in his career and had at least 176 hits for the sixth time in his career. He has led the league in RBIs twice and hits once, winning Rookie of the Year in 2014 and MVP in 2020. He will garner a lot of interest during the free agency period and will likely find a new home in 2023.
11. Tyler Anderson
Tyler Anderson is a 32-year-old starting pitcher who started 28 games (30 games played) for the Los Angeles Dodgers this past season – his first season with the team. He finished the campaign with an impressive 15-5 record, 2.57 ERA, and 138 strikeouts in 178.2 innings pitched. It was a productive year.
In fact, he was named an All-Star for his performance this past season, the first All-Star nod of his career. Many experts and analysts expect the Dodgers to re-sign the left-handed pitcher – which would be smart, considering they had one of the best pitching rotations in the entire MLB this year, so why break it up?
10. Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw is a 34-year-old American starting pitcher who started 22 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers this past season – he was teammates with Tyler Anderson. He finished the campaign with an impressive 12-3 record, 2.28 ERA, and 137 strikeouts in 126.1 innings pitched – he was also an All-Star.
Kershaw is one of the greatest pitchers of his generation and will generate buzz anytime he enters free agency. He led the league in strikeouts three times, shutouts three times, innings pitched once, ERA five times, and wins three times. He’s a three-time Cy Young winner and earned a Triple Crown in 2011.
9. Dansby Swanson
Dansby Swanson is a 28-year-old American shortstop who played all 162 games for the Atlanta Braves this past season – he has spent his entire seven-year career with the Braves. He finished the campaign with a .277 batting average, 177 hits, 32 doubles, 25 home runs, 96 runs batted in, and 99 runs scored.
Swanson not only earned an All-Star nod for his performance this year, but also earned himself a Gold Glove award – both the first of his career. He has only missed two games the past two years, proving to be one of the most reliable shortstops in the league today. There’s a good chance he returns to Atlanta.
8. Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon is a 29-year-old American starting pitcher who started 31 games for the San Francisco Giants this past season – his first season with the team after seven straight years with the Chicago White Sox. He finished the campaign with a 14-8 record, 2.88 ERA, and 237 strikeouts in 178.0 innings pitched.
Rodon has been on fire the past two seasons and is now 27-13 since 2021 – doing so with two different teams, nonetheless. He has been an All-Star in each of the past two seasons and I wouldn’t be surprised if he earned a three-peat in 2023. There’s a belief that he could find a new team this free agency period.
7. Edwin Diaz
Edwin Diaz is a 28-year-old Puerto-Rican relief pitcher who played in 61 games for the New York Mets this past season – he has spent the past four seasons with the team after three years in Seattle. He finished the campaign with a 3-1 record, 1.31 ERA, and 118 strikeouts in just 62.0 innings pitched.
Diaz is easily one of the best and most reliable relief pitchers in the MLB right now – his 1.31 ERA is exactly what you want out of a closer. He finished 49 of 61 appearances and earned 32 saves on the year. He also doesn’t give up a lot of home runs – giving up just eight in 149.4 innings since 2020.
6. Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa is a 28-year-old Puerto Rican shortstop who played 136 games for the Minnesota Twins this past season – his first season with the team since signing as a free agent last offseason. He finished the year with a .291 batting average, 152 hits, 22 home runs, 64 runs batted in, and 70 runs scored.
He was the biggest name to hit free agency last year and while he signed a three-year deal with the squad, he opted out of the contract to see what offers he receives this offseason. There’s reason to believe he’ll suit up for another team next season – which would be his third team in as many years.
5. Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander is a 39-year-old American starting pitcher who started 28 games for the Houston Astros this past season – he’s currently playing in the World Series with a shot at winning his second career title. He finished the 2022 campaign 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 175.0 total innings pitched.
Verlander led the league in wins, win percentage, and ERA this past season – his second time leading the league in ERA and third time leading the league in ERA. This comes after missing the entire 2021 season and only playing one game in 2020. It’s safe to say he’s back, despite his struggles in the World Series.
4. Xander Bogaerts
Xander Bogaerts is a 30-year-old Aruban shortstop who played 150 games for the Boston Red Sox this past season – he has spent his entire 10-year career with the team, but this could be his last. He finished the 2022 campaign with a .307 batting average, 171 hits, 15 home runs, 73 RBIs, and 84 runs scored.
Bogaerts was an All-Star for the second consecutive year and fourth time of his career. He has batted at least .300 in three of the past four seasons – he batted .295 in 2021. It was a down year for him in terms of production (HR, RBI, runs), but he’s still one of the best and most exciting shortstops in the MLB.
3. Trea Turner
Trea Turner is a 29-year-old American shortstop who played 160 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers this past year – his first full season with the team since being traded midway through 2021. He ended the campaign with a .298 batting average, 194 hits, 21 home runs, 100 runs batted in, and 101 runs scored.
Turner was one of the hottest players in the league coming into this season – he batted .335 in 2020 and led the league with a .328 batting average last season. He now has at least 190 hits in two straight seasons and set a career-high with 100 RBIs this year. He will likely find a new team this offseason.
2. Jacob DeGrom
Jacob DeGrom is a 34-year-old American starting pitcher who started 11 games for the New York Mets this past season – he has spent his entire nine-year career with the team. He finished the campaign with a 5-4 record, 3.08 ERA, and 102 strikeouts in 64.1 innings pitched after missing the start of the season.
DeGrom has struggled with injuries in each of the past two seasons and while he didn’t have a great year, there’s a belief that he can return to being one of the greatest pitchers in the MLB. We’re talking about a pitcher that has already won two Cy Young awards and has an 82-57 career record as a starting pitcher.
1. Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge is a 30-year-old American right fielder who played in 157 games for the New York Yankees this past season – he has spent his entire seven-year career with the team and is the most prized free agent this season. He finished 2022 with a .311 batting average, 62 home runs, 131 RBIs, and 133 runs.
Judge had one of the best seasons by a batter in MLB history, breaking the American League home run record with 62 home runs. He also led the MLB in runs and RBIs, while coming extremely close to a Triple Crown. He already has 220 home runs at 30 years old, so expect a lot of teams to make a run for him.
Most Notable MLB Free Agents Through the Years
Every year, the baseball community is blessed with some shocking, blockbuster, league-changing free agent signing that makes fans everywhere eager to see what the upcoming season has in store for them. With some of the MLB free agents available this offseason, we can expect much of the same this year.
Last year, it was Carlos Correa who shocked us when he chose the Twins over other potential suitors – such as the Yankees and Dodgers. Time will tell if it was the right decision for Correa and the Twins, but the team was ecstatic when they landed one of the top MLB free agents of the entire 2022 offseason.
Some other notable, shocking, and primetime free agent signings through the years include RandyJohnson to the Diamondbacks in 1999, GregMaddux to the Braves in 1993, MaxScherzer to the Nationals in 2015, RogerClemens to the Blue Jays in 1997, and BarryBonds to the Giants in 1993.
Breaking Down the Winners of the MLB Players Choice Awards 2022
The MLB Players Choice Awards is a collection of awards given out annually by the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) at the end of the season. The finalists were announced in late October and the winners were announced on November 4 – a day before the World Series ended.
And it was an exciting 2022 MLB season, to say the least. We saw Aaron Judge lead the MLB with an American League record 62 home runs, the Seattle Mariners break their 21-year playoff drought, and Albert Pujols hit 17 home runs between August and October – bringing his 22-year career to an end.
On November 5th, just one day after the MLB Players Choice Awards were announced, the Houston Astros won their second title in six years. They defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in a back-and-forth six-game series that had everyone on the edge of their seats. What a way to end an incredible year.
Who Won the MLB Players Choice Awards This Year?
With that said, let’s get back to the MLB Players Choice Awards. These awards often mean much more to the players than the typical awards – Cy Young, MVP, etc. – because the MLB Players Choice Awards are voted on by the players themselves, whereas the other awards are voted on by members of the BWAA.
There are 11 MLB Players Choice Awards in total. Four of them – Outstanding Player, Outstanding Pitcher, Outstanding Rookie, and Comeback Player – are given to a player in each league (eight players total). MLB players must have an incredible season to be considered for any of these eight awards.
In addition to that, there are three other awards handed out – Player of the Year, The Marvin Miller Man of the Year, and the Curt Flood Award. Each of these three awards are only given to one player throughout the entire MLB. The Curt Flood Award is the newest of the bunch, being introduced recently in 2020.
Let’s take a look at the winners of the MLB Players Choice Awards this season – featuring some of the best baseball players of 2022.
11. Player of the Year
Winner: Aaron Judge (Yankees)
Finalists: Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals), Shohei Ohtani (Angels)
Past 5 Winners: Shohei Ohtani (2021), Freddie Freeman (2020), Mike Trout (2019), J.D. Martinez (2018), Jose Altuve (2017, 2016)
The 2022 Players Choice Awards Player of the Year goes to… Aaron Judge, outfielder for the New York Yankees. This award, which has been awarded since 1998, is given to the best player in all of baseball – between both the AL and NL. It’s one of the highest honors, considering it’s awarded by their own peers.
Judge finished the season with a .311 batting average, 177 hits, 28 doubles, 62 home runs, 131 runs batted in, and 133 runs scored. His 62 home runs not only led the MLB, but set a new American League record for most in a single season. He also led the entire MLB in runs scored, runs batted in, and OPS.
Shohei Ohtani and Paul Goldschmidt were finalists for the award. Ohtani hit 34 home runs, 95 RBIs, and had 90 runs at the plate – he also had a 15-9 record and 2.33 ERA in 28 starts on the mound. As for Goldschmidt, he finished the season with a .317 batting average, 35 home runs, 115 RBIs, and 106 runs.
10. Marvin Miller Man of the Year
Winner: Francisco Lindor (Mets)
Finalists: Marcus Semien (Rangers), Brent Suter (Brewers)
Past 5 Winners: Marcus Semien (2021), Nelson Cruz (2020), Curtis Granderson (2019, 2018, 2016, 2009), Anthony Rizzo (2017), Adam Jones (2015)
The 2022 Players Choice Awards Marvin Miller Man of the Year goes to… Francisco Lindor, shortstop for the New York Mets. This award, which has been given since 1997, is given to one player in the entire MLB that excels both on and off the field, inspiring community members with their personal contributions.
Lindor finished the season with a .270 batting average, 170 hits, 25 doubles, 5 triples, 26 home runs, 107 runs batted in, and 98 runs scored. He’s one of the great ambassadors of the game and is just as liked in the clubhouse as he is among fans – which embodies everything that Marvin Miller stood for in the MLB.
Marcus Semien and Brent Suter were finalists for the award. Semien, who won the award last season, finished the 2022 campaign with 26 home runs, 83 RBIs, and 101 runs scored. Suter finished his season with a 5-3 record and 3.78 ERA in 66.2 innings pitched – he came out of the bullpen 54 times this year.
9. Curt Flood Award
Winner: Steve Rogers (Expos)
Finalists: Buck Martinez, Brooks Robinson
Previous Winners: Mark Belanger (2021), Andre Dawson (2020)
The 2022 Players Choice Awards Curt Flood Award goes to… Steve Rogers, former starting pitcher for the Montreal Expos. This award, which was given out for the first time in 2020, is handed to a former player – either living or deceased – that was devoted to the MLBPA and protecting player’s rights.
Rogers spent 13 seasons in the MLB between 1973 and 1985 – all of which with the Expos. In 399 games (393 starts), he had a 158-152 record, 3.17 ERA, 1,621 strikeouts, 129 complete games, and 37 shutouts in 2,837.2 innings pitched. He was a five-time All-Star and led the MLB in ERA in 1982.
Buck Martinez and Brooks Robinson were named finalists for the award. Martinez spent 17 years in the MLB between 1969 and 1986 – he played for the Royals, Blue Jays, and Brewers. Robinson spent 23 years in the MLB between 1955 and 1977 with the Orioles – he was a former MVP and 18-time All-Star.
8. AL Outstanding Player
Winner: Aaron Judge (Yankees)
Finalists: Shohei Ohtani (Angels)
Past 5 Winners: Shohei Ohtani (2021), Jose Abreu (2020), Mike Trout (2019, 2014), Mookie Betts (2018), Jose Altuve (2017, 2016)
The 2022 Players Choice Awards AL Outstanding Player goes to… Aaron Judge, outfielder for the New York Yankees. This was to be expected as the Player of the Year is almost always named Outstanding Player for the league they play in. The award has been handed out since 1993 – he’s the 30th recipient.
Like we mentioned above, Judge broke the American League record for most home runs in a season. He was a few hits shy of earning his first Triple Crown – his .311 batting average was beaten out by Luis Arraez’s .316 batting average. Still, Judge set career-highs in nearly every statistical category possible.
Only six players have ever won the award more than once – something Judge has an opportunity to do next season. Those players are Frank Thomas, Josh Hamilton, Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Altuve, and Mike Trout. Rodriguez is the only one to win it more than twice – he won it SIX times.
7. NL Outstanding Player
Winner: Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals)
Finalists: Austin Riley (Braves), Freddie Freeman (Dodgers)
Past 5 Winners: Bryce Harper (2021), Freddie Freeman (2020), Anthony Rendon (2019), Christian Yelich (2018), Giancarlo Stanton (2017, 2014)
The 2022 Players Choice Awards NL Outstanding Player goes to… Paul Goldschmidt, first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. He beat out Austin Riley (38 home runs) and Freddie Freeman (led NL in runs and hits) for the award – though Pete Alonso could’ve been considered too (40 home runs, 131 RBIs).
Goldschmidt finished the season with a .317 batting average, 178 hits, 41 doubles, 35 home runs, 115 runs batted in, and 106 runs scored. He was one of four NL players to record at least 100 runs and 100 RBIs. Of those four players, Goldschmidt had the most home runs and the most runs batted in.
Only four players have won the award more than once – Barry Bonds, Andrew McCutchen, Albert Pujols, and Giancarlo Stanton. Bonds won the award four times and Pujols won it three times. The way Goldschmidt has been playing the past two seasons, he very well could join these ranks in the future.
6. AL Outstanding Pitcher
Winner: Justin Verlander (Astros)
Finalists: Dylan Cease (White Sox), Alek Manoah (Blue Jays)
Past 5 Winners: Robbie Ray (2021), Shane Bieber (2020), Justin Verlander (2019, 2011), Blake Snell (2018), Corey Kluber (2017)
The 2022 Players Choice Awards AL Outstanding Pitcher goes to… Justin Verlander, starting pitcher for the Houston Astros. He beat out Dylan Cease (14-8, 2.20 ERA) and Alek Manoah (16-7, 2.24 ERA) for the award. Verlander’s teammate Framber Valdez (17-6, 2.82 ERA) also could’ve been considered.
Verlander finished the season with an 18-4 record, 1.74 ERA, and 185 strikeouts in 175.0 innings pitched. He allowed just a .186 batting average to opposing batters and had a .083 WHIP. He played a major role in a combined no-hitter in May, throwing for eight of those nine innings – the third no-hitter of his career.
This is the third time Verlander has been named AL Outstanding Pitcher – he won it with the Astros in 2019 and Tigers in 2011. Pedro Martinez also won the award three times, but won it a fourth time in the NL. Roger Clemens is the only other AL pitcher to win it three times – doing so in 1997, 1998, and 2001.
5. NL Outstanding Pitcher
Winner: Sandy Alcántara (Marlins)
Finalists: Zac Gallen (Diamondbacks), Julio Urias (Dodgers)
Past 5 Winners: Max Scherzer (2021, 2017, 2013), Trevor Bauer (2020), Jacob DeGrom (2019, 2018), Kyle Hendricks (2017), Zack Greinke (2015, 2009)
The 2022 Players Choice Awards NL Outstanding Pitcher goes to… Sandy Alcántara, starting pitcher for the Miami Marlins. He beat out Zac Gallen (12-4, 2.54 ERA) and Julio Urias (17-7, 2.16 ERA), but I’m surprised Kyle Wright (21-5, 3.19 ERA) and Tyler Anderson (15-5, 2.57 ERA) weren’t considered.
Alcántara finished the season with a 14-9 record, 2.28 ERA, and 207 strikeouts in a league-leading 228.2 innings pitched. He also led the MLB in complete games (6) and shutouts (1). His record would likely look a lot different if he had the type of run support some of the other pitchers listed above had this season.
This is the first time Alcántara has won the award. Greg Maddux and Clayton Kershaw have each won the NL award three times. Max Scherzer is a three-time Outstanding Pitcher, twice in the NL and once in the AL – he was the winner last season. Jacob DeGrom has won it twice, but a third is expected soon.
4. AL Outstanding Rookie
Winner: Julio Rodriguez (Mariners)
Finalists: Adley Rutschman (Orioles), Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals)
Past 5 Winners: Ryan Mountcastle (2021), Kyle Lewis (2020), Yordan Alvarez (2019), Miguel Andujar (2018), Aaron Judge (2017)
The 2022 Players Choice Awards AL Outstanding Rookie goes to… Julio Rodriguez, centerfielder for the Seattle Mariners. He beat out Adley Rutschman (13 home runs, 42 RBIs) and Bobby Witt Jr. (20 home runs, 80 RBIs). I thought Jeremy Pena (22 home runs, 63 RBIs) could’ve been considered too.
Rodriguez finished the season with a .284 batting average, 145 hits, 25 doubles, 3 triples, 28 home runs, 75 runs batted in, 84 runs scored, and 25 stolen bases. He was named an All-Star, despite being a 21-year-old rookie, and played a major role in helping his team break their 21-year postseason drought.
This is the second time in the past three seasons that a Seattle Mariners’ player won the award – Kyle Lewis won it in 2020. The only other Mariners’ player to win the award was Ichiro Suzuki in 2001. It’s an award that Aaron Judge won in 2017 and current World Series champion Yordan Alvarez won in 2019.
3. NL Outstanding Rookie
Winner: Spencer Strider (Braves)
Finalists: Brendan Donovan (Cardinals), Michael Harris II (Braves)
Past 5 Winners: Jonathan India (2021), Jake Cronenworth (2020), Pete Alonso (2019), Ronald Acuna Jr. (2018), Cody Bellinger (2017)
The 2022 Players Choice Awards NL Outstanding Rookie goes to… Spencer Strider, starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. He beat out his teammate Michael Harris II (16 home runs, 57 RBIs) and Brendan Donovan (45 RBIs, 64 runs). Outside of those three rookies, not many stood out in the National League.
Strider finished the season with an 11-5 record, 2.67 ERA, and 202 strikeouts in 131.2 innings pitched – he pitched in 31 games and started 20 of them. He was as good as you can expect a rookie pitcher to be, averaging nearly 14 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. Batters hit .180 with Strider on the mound this year.
Not only did he beat out his teammate for the award, but he joins his other teammate – Ronald Acuna Jr. – as the last two Braves players to win the award. Craig Kimbrel (2011), Rafael Furcal (2000), and Chipper Jones (1995) are the only other Braves’ players to be named NL Outstanding Rookie.
2. AL Comeback Player
Winner: Justin Verlander (Braves)
Finalists: Matt Carpenter (Yankees), Mike Trout (Angels)
Past 5 Winners: Trey Mancini (2021), Carlos Carrasco (2020), Hunter Pence (2019), Cameron Maybin (2018), Mike Moustakas (2017)
The 2022 Players Choice Awards AL Comeback Player goes to… Justin Verlander, starting pitcher for the Houston Astros. He joins Aaron Judge as the only players to win more than one Players Choice award this season. He beat out Matt Carpenter and Mike Trout (torn calf, missed most of last year).
Verlander only played in one game during the 2020 season before suffering an injury that later required Tommy John surgery – not only did he miss the rest of 2020, but he missed the entire 2021 season. He made his return this year and looked as good as ever – hence why he was named Outstanding Pitcher.
Only one player has ever won this award twice – Frank Thomas in 2000 and 2006. The award has been handed out to 26 players since 1992, but Verlander is the first Houston Astros’ player to win it. The hope is he won’t be in a position to win the award again and can remain at the top of his game until he retires.
1. NL Comeback Player
Winner: Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves)
Finalists: Brandon Drury (Reds/Padres), Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
Past 5 Winners: Buster Posey (2021, 2012), Daniel Bard (2020), Josh Donaldson (2019), Matt Kemp (2018), Ryan Zimmerman (2017)
The 2022 Players Choice Awards NL Comeback Player goes to… Ronald Acuna Jr., outfielder for the Atlanta Braves. He beat out Brandon Drury (started the year in minor league, got traded in August) and Albert Pujols (playing in his final season after signing a one-year contract with former team).
Acuna Jr. tore his ACL in July 2021, ending his 2021 campaign after just 82 games. He didn’t make his return until April 27th – 19 games into the season. He went on to play 119 games and hit 15 home runs, 50 RBIs, 71 runs, and 29 stolen bases. He was also an All-Star and participated in the Home Run Derby.
Two players have won this award in the NL since 1992. Chris Carpenter won it in 2004 and 2009 due to elbow and shoulder injuries that kept him off the mound in 2003 and 2008. Buster Posey won it in 2021 (missed 2020 due to having twins) and 2012 (injured in 2011 after a nasty collision at the plate).
The MLB Players Choice Awards Sum Up an Exciting Season
The MLB Players Choice Awards sum up what was an exciting season, but it only gives a brief and limited summary of what actually transpired. Don’t worry, I’m going to fill you in on some of the other incredible performances this year – for example, Kyle Wright led all pitchers with 21 wins this season.
While Aaron Judge led the league with 62 home runs, three other players hit at least 40 home runs – Kyle Schwarber (46), Mike Trout (40), and Pete Alonso (40). Of the three, Alonso was the only one to match Judge’s 131 runs batted in. Freddie Freeman finished first in hits and second in batting average.
Not only that, but C.J. Cron hit the second-longest home run in the Statcast era, Miguel Cabrera became the 33rd player in MLB history with 3,000 career hits, Albert Pujols became the fourth player to hit 700 home runs, and we saw one of the best prospects in Juan Soto get traded to the San Diego Padres.
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