Every campaign, we see players burst onto the scene. We’re not talking about figures like Julio Rodríguez or Adley Rutschman — who were prized prospects who were known to make an immediate impact upon their arrival in the Majors. We’re talking about players who hadn’t made any kind of mark in the Major Leagues until the 2022 season and then spoke up with undeniable authority — the ones who made sure this year that no one ever forgot their names again.
Here, we present the ones that were pleasant surprises in 2022.
1. Luis Arraez, INF, Twins
We must recognize that the Venezuelan did not come out of nowhere. He finished sixth in voting for the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2019 and hit .294 in 2021. There’s no question that he’s been a good player for a long time. But this was the year that he rocked the baseball world. He led the NFL with a .316 batting average, but it was essentially the low point of his season, and if it hadn’t been for a hamstring strain that nearly opened up Aaron Judge’s Triple Crown chances, we’re safe to say he would have. hit well over .330. Arráez was batting .367 as of June 11 and .355 on July 9. He was named to his first All-Star Game and finished 13th in voting for the AL MVP Award.
2. Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox
The Palelegs had all kinds of problems this year, but Cease definitely wasn’t one of them. His 2021 season was the one in which he established himself in the Majors — he made 32 starts and led the Majors in wild pitches (13) — but he made another big jump in 2022. His 2.20 ERA in 32 appearances was an salvation for the Chicago South club, and Cease finished second in voting for the American League Cy Young Award. It’s still worth noting that his 2022 wasn’t all that different than his 2021; in fact, he struck out fewer batters per nine innings than he did this year, and still led MLB in walks (78). But it’s clear that his 2.20 ERA turned heads.
3. Nestor Cortes, LHP, Yankees
Cortés Jr. has always been a great story and a favorite among the fans. But after seeing time in various franchises and in the minor leagues, the Cuban lefty not only established himself in a rotation in 2022, but simply became one of the best pitchers in the majors. His 2.44 ERA was the best in the Bronx Bombers’ rotation, and aside from being called up to his first Midseason Classic, he also finished eighth in the Young Circuit Cy Young Award voting. Plus, he may have set some kind of record for hip movements before pitching. Nasty Nestor he is one of the few we wish to see succeed.
4. Andres Gimenez, 2B, Guardians
When we look at the top 10 in bWAR in 2022, we see names most anticipate: Judge, Ohtani, Arenado, Goldschmidt, Machado. But look who’s No. 6. The way you see it, Gimenez — the Venezuelan hit just .218 in 68 games in 2021, which was his first season in Cleveland after his arrival in the trade that sent Francisco Lindor to the Mets. He reacted in a big way in 2022, winning a Gold Glove, making the All-Star Game and finishing sixth in voting for the AL MVP Award. Gimenez hit .297, but impressed with a .371 on-base percentage. The best player in Cleveland wasn’t José Ramírez: It was Giménez.
5. Ryan Helsley, RHP, Cardinals
The right-hander has always been a flamethrower. But in recent years, largely because of his footing problems, he has been inconsistent and even underperforming. The results have never lived up to his repertoire. But it all came together in 2022 and Helsley became one of the most dominant relievers in the majors, with a fastball that can hit 104 mph. He finished with a 1.25 ERA and provided stability to a Cardinals bullpen that was the main reason the club won the NL Central. He had a rough time in the postseason, but it may have been because he was overused. When he got enough rest, he was unhittable.
6. Alek Manoah, RHP, Blue Jays
One of the best moments of the All-Star Game this year, and of the entire season, was the wonderful second-inning mound interview with Manoah. He proved that being a pitcher can be incredibly exhausting and absurdly fun.
But Manoah established himself both before and after the Midseason Classic as one of the best pitchers in the majors, picking up 16 wins and posting a 2.24 ERA for a Toronto team that always seemed to have a little more right-handed energy on the mound. . Of all the Blue Jays pitchers the majority would pick before the season to receive votes for the Cy Young Awards, we bet he wouldn’t have been the one. Next year, he will be.
7. Cristian Javier, RHP, Astros
Remember when the question mark in Houston was their rotation? The weak point became this powerhouse’s strongest in 2022, thanks in large part to Javier, who went from being a solid or inconsistent bullpen arm to one of the most reliable pieces in the rotation. The Dominican’s posting a 2.54 ERA in 148.2 innings was invaluable, but his unforgettable contribution came in the postseason, in which he pitched 5.1 innings in his SLCA start and six scoreless innings of a combined no-hitter in the Series. World. Both outings resulted in wins for the Astros. Now with the departure of Justin Verlander, the Dominican could be the next ace of the champions.
8. Jeremy Pena, SS, Astros
We will end with another member of the newly crowned. Some knew it would be a risk for this team to replace Carlos Correa with a rookie, and some were even ready to mock the Astros all year. But then, Peña started the season on fire (.820 OPS through May), putting up better numbers than Correa and looking like he’s been in the majors his entire life. He slowed down a bit over the course of the season—always playing excellent defense—but he simply ripped through the postseason, ultimately becoming only the ninth player in AL/NL history (and the first rookie) to being recognized as the MVP of a Championship Series and the MVP of the World Series. Could it be that someone had a better rookie season? What will be his next act?
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Eight players who burst onto the scene in 2022