There are 121 players nominated for the 2022 All-MLB Team. If you’ve followed what has happened in the Majors throughout the season, you probably understand why everyone on this long list is being considered. Only 32 will end up on the First or Second team, and fans can vote now for your favorites once every 24 hours until 5 pm ET on November 22.
But try to go back to Opening Day and look again at that list. Many players would still be obvious picks, but there are many others who weren’t top of mind in early April. But still, over the course of six months and 162 games, those initially underrated earned your attention.
In fact, you could put together a very good starting lineup with those types of players, and that’s what we’re going to do. Here’s a player from each position on the All-MLB Team that surprised us this year.
Catcher: Cal Raleigh, Mariners
Though always a powerhouse prospect throughout his time in the minors, Raleigh homered just twice for the Mariners in 2021 and began 2022 with a 24-2 slump that sent him back to Triple-A. But he returned in May and responded in a big way, hitting 26 homers in his last 105 games.
First base: Nathaniel Lowe, Rangers
In his second season with Texas, the left-handed slugger was among the AL leaders in several categories, including hits (4th, 179), total bases reached (6th, 292) and OPS (8th, .850). He became the first Ranger to hit at least .300 with 25 home runs since Adrian Beltre in 2016, and his wRC+ of 143 was the best by a club player since Josh Hamilton (175) and his 2010 MVP campaign. a jump after hitting .264 with 18 homers in 2021.
Second base: Andrés Giménez, Guardians
When the season began, Gimenez was best known for being one of the pieces sent to Cleveland in the Francisco Lindor trade. But in six months that perception completely changed, hitting .297 with 17 home runs, 25 stolen bases and an OPS+ of 141, in addition to exhibiting a luxury defense, ranking second in Defensive Runs Saved (16) and third in Outs Above Average (13 ) in its position. All of that helped the 23-year-old earn his first Gold Glove and his first All-Star trip. And his 7.4 bWAR was a full point above his closest pursuer among bartenders (Tommy Edman, 6.4).
Shortstop: Jeremy Pena, Astros
Phenomenal newbie. Horse in postseason. Sure, we all know by now who the Dominican Peña is. But seven months ago, he was a prospect with a lot to prove and some very big shoes to fill after the departure of Puerto Rican Carlos Correa. When the season ended, Peña had the same number of home runs as Correa (22) and had done a better job defensively. And that was before they shined big in October/November.
Third base: Brandon Drury, Padres
Drury signed a minor league contract with the Reds in March and paid off quickly, hitting 18 home runs with a .528 slugging percentage before the All-Star break. He was traded to the Padres two weeks later and although his bat didn’t make as much noise in San Diego, he set career highs in different categories and won a Silver Slugger, thus setting the stage for a multi-year deal at the agency. free.
Designated hitter: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
What started as the beautiful story of a legend returning to his origins became an incredible farewell for the future Hall of Famer. Wearing a St. Louis uniform for the first time since 2011, the 42-year-old hit just .215 with six hits in the first half, but somewhere between the Home Run Derby and his 11th All-Star Game he found a way to back off. the clock 15 years. He again became one of the most fearsome hitters in the league, hitting 18 home runs and posting a .715 slugging percentage, a 1.103 OPS and a 206 wRC+ in the second half. Of course, the crowning glory of it all were the two home runs he hit at Dodger Stadium on September 23 to become the fourth member of the 700-homer club.
Outfielder: Taylor Ward, Angels
After hitting .230 with 15 home runs in his first four years with the Angels, the 28-year-old slugger kicked it off and come June, he was hitting .347 with 10 home runs and leading the MLB in on-base percentage (.459) and slugging percentage. (.686). Ward cooled off in the final months, but his torrid start justifies putting him here.
Starting pitcher: Kyle Wright, Braves
Wright had the talent and the opportunity to have such a year; he just needed him to make all of that come true before considering him for the All-MLB Team, as he began this season with a 6.56 career ERA in 70 regular-season innings. But this summer he became a key part of Atlanta’s rotation, posting a 3.19 ERA in 30 starts and 180.1 innings, also becoming the first Braves pitcher to lead MLB in wins since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine did. in 2000.
Relief Pitcher: Evan Phillips, Dodgers
Among many candidates, it’s hard to find a bigger surprise than Phillips. Selected in the 17th round of the 2015 Draft, Phillips had a 5.07 ERA in college and his major league ERA prior to this season was 6.68. This year? 1.14 in 63 innings, thanks to him using his slider more and his four-seamer less.
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