We have about six weeks left in the regular season of this sport we know and love, and that means that it is time for my final MLB award predictions. This will cover both league’s MVPs, Rookies of the Year, Cy Youngs, and Managers of the Year.
A couple of these awards are already spoken for, but there are still some battles that may come down to the wire. Let me know in the comments who you think should win each of these awards.
Final 2022 MLB Award Predictions
This has been a fun race for the majority of the season. Manny Machado vaulted into the lead out of the gate by hitting .386/.453/.615 across March and April but has since fallen back to earth. Reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper took the lead next by hitting .352/.420/.667 across two full months spanning 42 games before his season came to an abrupt halt due to a broken thumb on June 25th.
New to the Los Angeles Dodgers, former MVP Freddie Freeman got off to a slow start but has since turned his season around and thrown his hat into the discussion with a season line of .324/.399/.520 while leading baseball in hits (154) and doubles (41). And finally, we have Paul Goldschmidt. One of the most consistent and underrated players in the game is having the best season of his career with a line of .335/.417/.622 while leading baseball in batting average and on-base percentage, and leading the NL in slugging percentage, OPS, and total bases (275) and OPS+ (195).
This race will come down to the wire between Freeman and Goldschmidt. Either of these guys would be worthy of taking home the hardware, but there can be only one winner.
Prediction: Paul Goldschmidt
Now for the MVP race that has not had as many contenders. The BBWAA set a precedent last season that any time Shohei Ohtani has a season anywhere close to the same levels of production as 2021, he will win MVP. What has Ohtani done this year? Improve on the mound while being right about where he was last season at the plate, just with fewer home runs.
Ohtani has hit to a line of .265/.356/.514 with 27 home runs and a 143 OPS+ while leading the AL in times being intentionally walked with 12. On the mound, he’s thrown 121 innings across 21 starts with a 2.83 ERA, 167 strikeouts, and a 143 ERA+. He does lead the AL in wild pitches with 13, but at the time of writing, he does not have enough innings to qualify for anything of note.
His competition, Aaron Judge, has set the universe on fire with his race for a 60 home run season. Much like Machado in the NL, Judge vaulted to a massive lead from the word go. To date, he has a line of .297/.394/.663 leads baseball in home runs (48), runs scored (100), RBI (105), slugging percentage, OPS, and total bases (297), and he leads the AL in walks (69) and OPS+ (197). If you placed a bet on him to win the MVP before the season, you would for sure be sitting pretty right about now.
Prediction: Aaron Judge
After hitting his 48th home run of the season, Aaron Judge becomes the 6th Yankee with at least 10 HR against the Mets in the regular season.
Derek Jeter (13), Alex Rodriguez (13), Jorge Posada (12), Mark Teixeira (11) and Robinson Canó (10) are the others. pic.twitter.com/08BOFDYAZB
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 24, 2022
NL Cy Young
This has been a race that has been wide open from the word go. Down the stretch though, one name has emerged as the clear favorite, and it’s a name you would not normally expect considering the amount of top-tier pitching in the National League.
The season started with the usual suspects atop the NL Cy Young mountain. Former winners Corbin Burnes, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, and former runner-up Zack Wheeler all took their annual turns holding the top spot. Scherzer was first as through his first four starts he pitched 25 innings while striking out 33 and carrying an ERA of 1.80. Scherzer has fallen off of late and missed a month of the season with an injury, so he is no longer in the running.
Kershaw was atop the mountain next as he returned to Clayton Kershaw of old’s form by pitching 30 innings across his first five starts with 32 strikeouts and a 1.80 ERA, but injuries also derailed his season as he missed most of May and has not pitched since August 4th.
Wheeler looked to claim his first Cy Young award and avenge his runner-up status from last year with a very strong May and June in which he pitched 62.1 innings across 10 starts while striking out 76 batters and holding a 2.02 ERA over that stretch. A slow start to the season though, and a rough patch over his past five starts have removed his name from the running.
Reigning NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes hasn’t been as solid this season as he was last season, but he’s still been a top-tier caliber ace and is on pace to set a new career high in innings pitched in a single season. To date, he has made 25 starts and pitched 152.1 innings with an ERA of 2.84. He also currently leads the NL in strikeouts with 190. That won’t be good enough to win the hardware this year, however.
Miami Marlins workhorse Sandy Alcantara is having the best season of his career, and quite frankly many Major Leaguer’s careers, to date. Across an MLB-leading 25 starts and an MLB-leading 176.2 innings, he has an ERA of 2.19. He’s not a strikeout guy, so he “only” has 157 on the season, but he also leads baseball in complete games (3), batters faced (685), and is tied for the lead in shutouts (1). I wouldn’t expect another season like this from Alcantara, but we can definitely enjoy watching it while it lasts.
Prediction: Sandy Alcantara
AL Cy Young
This one has been a three-horse (pun intended) race for the majority of the season. With an aging veteran facing off against two young up-and-comers, it’s been yet another fun race to watch and is one that honestly (some pitcher’s durability depending) might not be done quite yet.
Shane McClanahan has firmly staked his claim on the title of Tampa Bay Rays ace with the production he has given them in this, his sophomore season. Across 23 starts and a career-high 143.1 innings, he has an ERA of 2.29 and an ERA+ of 158. He also leads the AL in WHIP (0.863) and H/9 (5.9), which basically equates to, “if you’re facing him today, you ain’t getting a hit.” He has had a rough month of August, however, as he carries an ERA of 3.72 across three starts and 19.1 innings. Still solid numbers, but not as good as the first four months of the season.
Dylan Cease has quietly put together the best season of his career to date. Across 25 starts and 139 innings, he has an ERA of 2.27 with 182 strikeouts and a 175 ERA+. He currently leads baseball in K/9 (11.8) but he also leads baseball in walks (61). His command issues do give him an elevated FIP of 2.98, but that is still a solid number considering he has walked more batters than anyone else in baseball. If he got his command under control (again, pun intended), he would be a perennial Cy Young candidate and one of the best pitchers in the game. This just won’t be his year to take home the trophy.
Justin Verlander is in the middle of his age 39 season. Not only is he ancient (in terms of baseball players of course), but he is also in his first season back from Tommy John surgery which kept him off the field for the entirety of the 2020 season. You would expect him to have a massive drop-off in production, right? Right?! It’s Justin Verlander. That’s not his style.
Although his strikeout numbers are down, across 23 starts and 149 innings he has a baseball-leading ERA of 1.87, to go along with 148 strikeouts and a baseball-leading ERA+ of 206. He also leads baseball in pitching wins (16) and leads the AL in pitching win percentage (.842). When you consider the fact that he is 39 years old, and he is coming off of Tommy John surgery while still putting up the numbers that he is unless his arm falls off in September this one might be spoken for.
Prediction: Justin Verlander
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This award is all but decided, at least with what team it’s going to. The trophy makers have already engraved the Atlanta Braves onto it, now it’s just a wait-and-see of which Braves’ rookie will be the one taking it home.
Michael Harris II made his debut at the end of May for the Braves and has taken the league by storm. Across 78 games and 294 plate appearances, he carries a line of .285/.327/.505 with 13 home runs and a 126 OPS+. He’s done all of that while playing an excellent center field, a very premium position, and many scouts and league executives say that it is very likely he will be a better player than Ronald Acuna Jr. Already a top center fielder in the National League, if Harris can improve his 4.4% walk rate, he would be a top-10 player in baseball.
We move from center field to the pitching mound as we now highlight Spencer Strider. Strider started the season in the bullpen but quickly made his way into the Braves already stout starting rotation with his dominating stuff. He has pitched in 26 games this season, 15 of those being starts, for 100.2 innings with a 2.95 ERA and 151 strikeouts giving him an ERA+ of 143. If he had enough innings to qualify, he would lead baseball in K/9 with a staggering 13.5 while also only giving up a total of six home runs. Did I mention that his FIP is 2.06? I do not envy the voters when it comes to making a decision on this one.
Prediction: Michael Harris II
It doesn’t get any easier ladies and gentlemen. The American League side of things has been a more spread-out race than the National League, but there have been rookie phenoms all the same. Jeremy Pena staked his claim first, debuting on Opening Day for the Houston Astros and jumping out to a hot start. Through his first 42 games, he was hitting .281/.329/.490 with 15 extra-base hits, but then a changing of the guard occurred.
After jumping out to a slow start on the season, rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez has more than made up for the lack of production over his first 20 games as a Big Leaguer. In those first 20 games, he hit .206/.284/.260 with 30 strikeouts in 81 plate appearances. Since that time, he has hit .285/.339/.515 with 19 home runs and 92 strikeouts over 369 plate appearances. Add to that a runner-up finish in this year’s Home Run Derby and you have a young phenom that will be making headlines for years to come.
Then comes Adley Rutschman. At the time of his debut on May 21st, 2022, he was baseball’s top prospect. Since that debut, he has hit .257/.368/.451 with eight home runs and an OPS+ of 133, all while playing catcher. Adley’s best stat? Since debuting for the Baltimore Orioles, they have gone 44-30 in the games in which he has appeared, pushing the Orioles into a thrilling American League Wild Card race. That alone is more than enough reason for the voters to give him some hardware to display atop his mantle.
Prediction: Adley Rutschman
NL Manager of the Year
These next two will be the hardest of all to predict. Generally going to the managers that make it to the World Series, the actual NL MotY may not even make the playoffs this year if their team scuffles down the stretch.
The Philadelphia Phillies of 2022 were seemingly built to demolish any and all pitching that came their way. With some of their bigger name stars struggling early in the season, it was no wonder that they had a rough go of it in April and early May. But the struggles continued and David Dombrowski decided that it was time for a change. Joe Girardi was fired on the morning of June 3rd, after managing the Phillies to a 22-29 record to start the year and an overall record of 132-141 in his 2+ years as the skipper. Enter Rob Thomson.
The longtime bench coach was named interim manager beginning his first ever stint as the manager of a Major League ball club. Just how has he handled that position? The Phillies have gone 46-26 since he took over and are currently holding down the second Wild Card spot in the NL. Did I mention that most of those 72 games have been without a top-3 player in baseball Bryce Harper? Even if the Phillies do trail off down the stretch and end up on the outside looking in, there’s not a more deserving candidate for the NL MotY award than Rob Thomson.
Prediction: Rob Thomson
AL Manager of the Year
This is one that we can give to a manager whose club will make the playoffs, and maybe even win the World Series. Dusty Baker is in his 25th season as a Major League manager, and at the age of 73, he’s still getting the job done nicely. Leading the Astros to a 79-45 record so far this season, he has them primed and ready to once again win the AL West and make another deep run in this year’s playoffs.
You may be saying, “What about Brandon Hyde?” or, “… Scott Servais?” and those guys would also be deserving, but they have each been with their respective teams (Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners respectively) since the early to mid stages of their rebuilds. Dusty Baker is, again, doing all of this at the age of 73. He should be the winner this year, but I would have no qualms with either Hyde or Servais taking it home either.
Prediction: Dusty Baker