ST. LOUIS — It was once a season the place groups had been both actually, actually just right, or had been actually, actually unhealthy.
There had been 4 100-victory groups this season, tying a major-league report.
There had been 4 100-loss groups, additionally tying a major-league report.
The expanded postseason took the drama of races, but when now not for the 3rd wild-card spot, the Philadelphia Phillies can be house presently as a substitute of celebrating a two-game sweep in St. Louis that despatched them to the National League Division Series.
The largest September drama (and the primary few days of October) had been the fabulous house run chases of Albert Pujols (703 profession) and Aaron Judge (62 regular-season) .
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With the best-of-five Division Series starting Tuesday, it’s time to have a look at the steady season one closing time with our annual awards.
Yell or pour espresso for your keyboard, however right here we move:
American League MVP
1. Aaron Judge, Yankees: The Yankees are a wild-card staff, at very best, with out Judge, who carried this staff all season with one of the crucial largest offensive performances in historical past: .311/.426/.686, 62 house runs and 131 RBI. And, oh yeah, he performs super protection, too.
2. Shohei Ohtani, Angels: He’s the finest participant within the sport, however on the other hand, so was once Barry Bonds, and the baseball writers didn’t give him the MVP award 20 consecutive years. The Angels, the closing we regarded, completed 33 video games out of first position. If Ohtani stored them in rivalry, this award race may well be a special tale.
3. Jose Ramirez, Guardians: Sure, he didn’t also have the finest all-around season on his personal staff with 2nd baseman Andres Gimenez’s stellar yr. Yet, the Guardians are sitting house and staring at the playoffs on TV if Ramirez hadn’t picked up a pen and signed that team-friendly seven-year, $141 million contract. He made his teammates imagine they are able to win the AL Central. The guy selected to stick in Cleveland than be traded to the Padres – who had been ready to offer him a a lot more profitable contract extension. Pretty cool to be a Guardians fan at the present time.
AL Cy Young
1. Justin Verlander, Astros: He’s 39 years previous, coming off Tommy John surgical treatment, pitching simply six innings within the closing two years, after which has some of the sensational seasons in historical past. He produces a 1.75 ERA, the bottom by way of an American League pitcher in a complete season since Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez in 2000. Maybe Verlander actually turn out to be the following 300-win pitcher. You going to guess in opposition to him?
2. Dylan Cease, White Sox: He was once a one-man display all season, placing on one of the crucial largest pitching clinics in White Sox historical past. He accepted no multiple earned run in 23 of his 32 begins. And he set an MLB report by way of yielding one or 0 earned runs in 14 consecutive begins from May 29-Aug. 11 (0.66 ERA). He by hook or by crook didn’t make the All-Star staff.
3. Alek Manoah, Blue Jays: Go forward, you’ll be able to ask the Yankees, Red Sox and everybody else within the AL East, they usually’ll inform you that he’s very best pitcher they noticed all yr. The All-Star simply were given higher because the yr went alongside, going 4-0 with a zero.88 ERA in six September begins, yielding a .162 batting moderate. He completed the yr thid within the AL in wins (16) and ERA (2.24).
AL Rookie of the Year
1. Julio Rodriguez, Mariners: The Mariners had prime expectancies for the 21-year-old child, however couldn’t imagine what they had been seeing all season. He struggled in April, hitting simply .206 and not using a house run, and proceeded to complete with 28 house runs, together with 25 steals. He hit .394 with seven homers in September when the Mariners wanted him probably the most. He’s the Mariners’ largest younger participant since Alex Rodriguez and the Mariners imagine in him such a lot that they gave him a $209.3 million contract that would possibly become a thieve.
2. Adley Rutschman, Orioles: It’s a disgrace he wasn’t up all yr. Rutschman can have been the adaptation within the Orioles making the playoffs. He’s for sure a celebrity within the making, hitting .254 with an .806 OPS, main all beginners with 35 doubles, and rating 2nd in walks, on-base proportion and OPS.
3. Steven Kwan, Guardians: He had a sensational rookie season, hitting .298 with 19 stolen bases and 52 RBI, and was once one of the crucial most sensible defensive left fielders within the sport. But as a result of he performs in Cleveland, no person actually spotted. He’s a key explanation why the Guardians will likely be enjoying the Yankees within the AL Division Series.
AL Manager of the Year
1. Terry Francona, Guardians: This is also the nearest race of all the awards that will likely be introduced in November. Yet, this can be Francona’s largest season in his Hall of Fame profession. When you’re taking the youngest staff in baseball to postseason, you deserve the best honor.
2. Brandon Hyde, Orioles: They had been probably the most sudden staff in baseball, the primary staff since no less than 1900 to lose 110 video games three hundred and sixty five days and feature a successful season (83-79) the following. They stayed in rivalry till the general week of the season. Even when the entrance place of job gave up at the staff, buying and selling away their All-Star nearer Jorge Lopez and staff chief Trey Mancini on the time limit, Hyde made certain his gamers didn’t give up, too. Hyde has this staff believing they are going to be within the playoffs in 2023.
3. Scott Servais, Mariners: Things regarded as gloomy because the Seattle sky in May, however they grew to become it round, going from 10 video games beneath .500 to 11 video games over .500 in two months. The Mariners by no means regarded again. Servais driven all the proper buttons and now has a staff which may be a drive for years yet to come. On Saturday, they changed into the 3rd staff in historical past to triumph over a seven-run deficit within the playoffs, advancing to the ALDS.
1. Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals: Sure, he hit simply .245 with two homers and 10 RBI in September, however he was once the one that carried the Cardinals to the end line, wrapping up the department identify with weeks to spare. He ranked a few of the most sensible 5 in 11 offensive classes, main the NL with a .981 OPS.
2. Manny Machado, Padres: The Padres stored seeking to get assist for Machado, even making the monstrous deal to get Juan Soto and Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals. They had been large disappointments within the steady season, with Machado nonetheless having to be a one-man display and not using a coverage. No subject, he delivered, over and over, and has emerged because the staff chief. The Padres don’t make the playoffs, and even come shut, with out Machado.
3. Nolan Arenado, Cardinals: Arenado and Goldschmidt are the Mantle-Maris of the Midwest. They feed off some other, bringing out the best in each and every of them. And for all of those that wondered whether or not Arenado may submit the similar nice numbers out of doors Coors Field, have a look: .293, 30 homers, 102 RBI, .891 OPS.
NL Cy Young
1. Sandy Alcantara, Marlins: He’s an old-school pitcher in 2022, a modern day Bob Gibson. He may care much less about pitch counts, prospers in power eventualities, and is as fierce a competitor as any pitcher within the sport. He had extra whole video games (6) than any staff in baseball, whilst throwing a major-league main 228.2 innings.
2. Julio Urias, Dodgers: Simply, he’s probably the most underrated pitcher in baseball. He’s 37-10 with a 2.57 ERA the previous two years and as soon as once more received’t win the Cy Young award. He’s dwarfed in consideration by way of long run Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw, together with 3 different MVPs at the staff, however he’s quietly been their most sensible pitcher.
3. Edwin Diaz, Mets: He produced some of the dominant seasons by way of a more in-depth for the reason that steroid technology. He had 32 saves and a surprising 118 strikeouts in 62 innings. No participant was once extra answerable for the Mets’ resurgence than Diaz.
NL Rookie of the Year
1. Michael Harris, Atlanta: He was once referred to as up in overdue May and Atlanta’s season took off a couple of days later. He was once simply what the staff had to kick-start its resurgence, hitting .297 with 19 homers and 64 RBI. No rookie place participant had a really perfect affect. Atlanta was once 22-24 prior to Harris arrived, and went a major-league very best 79-37 the remainder of the season.
2. Spencer Strider, Atlanta: If now not for his personal teammate, Strider would win the award. He was once some of the dominant rookie pitchers the sport has noticed, the fastest to strike out 200 batters in historical past. He additionally is the primary pitcher to complete the yr with 200 or extra strikeouts whilst allowing fewer than 100 hits. He averaged a ludicrous 13.8 strikeouts according to 9 innings (202 in 131 ⅔ innings). Yet, as a result of he’s a tumbler, and now not an on a regular basis participant like Harris, he’ll be the Cy Young runner-up.
3. Brendan Donovan, Cardinals: He performed nearly all over the place for the Cardinals, beginning at six other positions. He’s the primary participant since no less than 1900 to start out 4 other infield positions in his first 4 MLB video games. He leads all beginners with a .394 on-base proportion, and ranked 2nd amongst NL with 110 hits and 64 runs.
NL supervisor of the yr
1. Buck Showalter, Mets: How on the planet was once this man out of baseball for 3 years with no person hiring? He modified all of the tradition of the Mets group, simply as he’s finished all over the place he’s long past. Before he retires – write it down – he’s going to win a World Series.
2. Brian Snitker, Atlanta: He’s the brand new Bobby Cox. It was once his staff assembly that aroused from sleep the staff on June 1 on a sleepy morning in Phoenix, they usually went one of the crucial greatest runs in baseball historical past. They have received 5 consecutive department titles beneath Snitker, who is also making his personal Hall of Fame case.
3. Rob Thomson, Phillies : Hey, why now not stay all of it within the NL East? He took over a staff that was once dead, hadn’t been to the postseason in 11 years and led them to a 65-46 report and playoff berth. He’s the calming drive in the back of the Phillies’ resurrection.
Around the basepaths
– The San Francisco Giants will pursue now not handiest Yankees superstar Aaron Judge in unfastened company, but in addition Dodgers All-Star shortstop Trea Turner.
If the Yankees received’t pay the $300 million Judge desires, he may finish up in San Francisco – simply two hours clear of his native land.
Turner is open to staying in Los Angeles, however is believed to favor the East Coast and is also the No. 1 goal for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Yet, cash is also no object, with the Giants prepared to do the rest for a go back to the postseason, successful 26 much less video games than a yr in the past.
“We do have the flexibility to be involved in every possible option on the table,” Giants president Farhan Zaidi said.
– The Los Angeles Angels will be sold for at least $3 billion, a record price for a baseball franchise, several MLB owners believe. The negotiations are brisk, and the sale is expected to be consummated within the next few months.
– The Chicago White Sox want to hire a veteran manager to replace Tony La Russa, not wanting to take a chance on someone with no experience.
Some managers who fit the bill: Bruce Bochy, Mike Shildt, Ron Washington, John Gibbons, Bo Porter, Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon.
Bochy, Washington and Shildt are considered the leading candidates.
– The Orioles will be paying awfully close attention to the Rookie of the Year balloting this year. If catcher Adley Rutschman finishes in the top two, he’ll receive a full year of service time, permitting him to be eligible for free agency after six years under the new collective bargaining agreement. If he doesn’t finish in the top two, his free agency will be delayed until 2028 because he wasn’t called up until 40 games into the season.
– Just how strange was it seeing Max Scherzer’s stinker in Game 1 of the wild card series?
It was only the second time that a pitcher coughed up four homers and seven runs in the same postseason game, joining Cincinnati Reds starter Gene Thompson in Game 3 of the 1939 World Series. Scherzer had done it only once in his entire regular-season career, spanning 421 starts.
While Scherzer may insist he’s healthy, several scouts are convinced he’s playing through oblique pain.
– Giants third baseman Evan Longoria wants to return for one final season, but the Giants have no plans to pick up his $13 million option and will instead pay a $5 million buyout.
The only teams Longoria would consider playing for are the Giants, Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks.
– The White Sox loved having Jose Abreu the past nine years, and has been nothing but a class act and valuable hitter, but they plan to part ways with him. Simply, they need to shake up their team, and are making virtually everyone but Dylan Cease and Andrew Vaughn available in trades.
– The Giants are hoping to trade infielder Tommy La Stella this winter. He had surgery on both Achilles tendons last winter and struggled this season. He’s owed $11.5 million next season.
– Angels manager Phil Nevin, who was given a one-year contract for 2023, has seen a lot of baseball since he was the No. 1 draft pick over Derek Jeter and everyone else in the 1992 draft.
But after watching Shohei Ohtani for just one season, he says: “He’s the best baseball player I think anybody has ever seen, to be honest. I really believe that. All around. I don’t think there’s any argument you can make that he’s not the best baseball player that’s played the game.”
The Angels, by the way, have no intention of trading Ohtani after signing him to a one-year, $30 million contract, averting arbitration.
– Nelson Cruz, 42, says he has no plans to retire after his worst season in 16 years, hitting .234 with 10 homers, 64 RBI and a .651 OPS.
Yet, he may have no choice, depending on if anyone really wants him. He’ll have made $15 million from the Nationals for 2022 last season, and would have to take a massive pay cut if anyone wants to give him one last chance.
– The Diamondbacks, will bring struggling veteran Madison Bumgarner to spring training, hoping he can pitch well enough to trade him. He’s owed $37 million over the next two seasons, and the D-backs would likely have to eat most of it. Barring a dramatic turnaround, it will go down as the D-backs’ worst free-agent signing in franchise history, paying him $85 million over five years.
– Just how disappointed was Red Sox manager Alex Cora with their season?
“We were like the best worst team in baseball.’’
The Red Sox finished last for the fifth time in 11 years.
The Red Sox likely would allow Cora to leave if he really desired, but he loves Boston, and wants to stay.
– Classy move seeing the Red Sox and Rays’ players and coaches step out of their dugouts and tip their caps to Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley in his season finale as broadcaster.
Eckersley cried watching the gesture.
– How cool was it seeing veteran catcher Stephen Vogt, a two-time All-Star, hitting a home run in the final at-bat of his career at the Oakland Coliseum?
“For Vogt to go out the way he did, catch seven shutout innings, take a walk, and hit a home run his last at-bat,’’ A’s utilityman Chad Pinder told reporters, “that’s the best baseball moment I’ve ever seen.”
– The Brewers had plenty of flaws that left them sitting home for the playoffs, but trading All-Star closer Josh Hader was nothing short of a disaster. They misread the impact Hader had in the clubhouse, that setup man Devin Williams could step right in to replace him and that the incoming Taylor Rogers would be a difference-maker.
– Strange stat: This is the first time in the Giants’ 140-year history that they finished the season exactly at .500.
– Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen on his team winning 22 more games than a year ago, going 74-88: “I don’t look at it, like, ‘Congratulations, we stunk less than we did last year.’ I don’t have that mindset. … I’m tired of being the young team. I want to be the winning team.”
– Padres starter Joe Musgrove, who won a World Series ring with the Astros in 2017, says he wants to bury the memory of the cheating scandal with another one.
“I still don’t feel great about wearing that ring around or telling people that I was a World Series champion on that team,” Musgrove advised the Associated Press. “I want one that feels earned and that was a true championship.’’
– Angels GM Perry Minasian on missing the playoffs once again despite having Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout:
“We’ve got two of the greatest players ever to put on uniforms. There’s no secret there. But we need more. It’s not a two-on-two game. If it was, I love our chances.”
Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale