At the General Meetings last week, representatives of the Royals kept calling me out for snubbing their boy Bobby Witt Jr. on my 2022 All-Debut Team – a column I wrote in August.
I wanted to find a place on that team for Brendan Donovan of the Cardinals, so I put him at third base over Witt. A member of the Royals mentioned that he could have created a utility spot for Donovan. Fair enough, but then Donovan wouldn’t have been in my imagined starting lineup!
Either way, the point of bringing this up again is that, even on a completely subjective and insignificant honor like an All Debut Team created by a sports reporter — an “award” that doesn’t even come with a cheap plaque – people want to see their favorite players being recognized. And that is completely understandable.
We have many recognitions in MLB. And then there are great performances that, for one reason or another, are not recognized with any trophy. So, each year, we honor them with this other subjective and insignificant honor – The No Award All-Star Team!
To qualify, a player cannot have won an MVP Award, Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year Award, Hank Aaron Award, Roberto Clemente Award, Silver Slugger Award, Gold Glove Award, Reliever of the Year Award, Comeback Player of the Year Award, Designated Hitter Award, Players’ Choice Award, Heart & Hustle or have been selected to the All-MLB First or Second Team.
Here, the “winners” who didn’t win anything this year.
CATCHER: Adley Rutschman, Orioles
There’s nothing to be ashamed of claiming the AL Rookie of the Year award against Julio Rodriguez this season. But in many other years, a season like the one Rutschman had after his May 21 debut would have easily earned him recognition. His 5.3 WAR (FanGraphs) ranked second among all MLB caps, trailing only JT Realmuto (6.5). His 133 Weighted Runs Created plus ranked first among all catchers with at least 400 plate appearances. Rutschman was able to quickly solidify himself as the signpost for an Orioles team that posted a 31-game improvement in the win column (they were 16-24 before Rutschman’s debut and 67-55 afterward). Rutschman may well have been selected to the All-MLB Second Team, ahead of the Dodgers’ Will Smith.
FIRST BASE: Pete Alonso, Mets
The Polar Bear finished eighth in voting for the National League MVP Award, but was not recognized with a Silver Slugger or named to the All-MLB Team, thanks to great campaigns by Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman. Alonso’s 131 RBIs led the Majors. He surpassed the 40-homer mark for the second time in his career and had a .271/.352/.518 batting line. His batting average was also the highest of his career, and the slugger cut his strikeout rate to a career-high 18.7%.
SECOND BASE: Tommy Edman, Cardinals
Take your pick here between the Padres’ Edman and Jake Cronenworth. Both had very solid campaigns that were overshadowed by players who received awards, such as Venezuelans José Altuve and Andrés Giménez, as well as Jeff McNeil. At least Cronenworth was called to the All-Star Game. Edman didn’t receive that honor, but he did hit a respectable .265/.324/.400 line while setting career-highs in home runs (13) and RBIs (57) and ranked in the 100th percentile in Outs Over from Average. He appears on this list as a second baseman, but Edman’s versatility in the middle of the infield (he played in nearly as many games at shortstop) was invaluable to the champion NL Central.
SHORTSTOP: Carlos Correa, Twins
Correa’s real recognition will come when he signs what is supposed to be a million-dollar contract elsewhere. But in the midst of a group of extraordinary shortstops, the Puerto Rican was not recognized with any type of trophy this year. However, he hit .291/.366/.467 slashes with 22 homers and 24 doubles in 2022. His wRC+ of 140 was the best among all shortstops. The Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette, who led the American League with 189 hits, 24 homers and a career-high 43 doubles, is equally deserving of this position as well.
THIRD BASE: Rafael Devers, Red Sox
As far as the awards are concerned, the Dominican was overshadowed by figures such as José Ramírez (Silver Slugger), as well as Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado (All MLB Team). But he finished 14th in AL MVP voting after hitting .295/.358/.521 with 27 homers and 42 doubles. He cut his strikeouts and posted a career-high OPS+ from him. Now, the question that arises is whether the Red Sox will give him an extension before his final year on contract.
OUTFIELDS: Brandon Nimmo, Mets; Taylor Ward, Angels; George Springer, Blue Jays
Nimmo, who just re-signed with New York to an eight-year contract, is coming off the healthiest — and as a result, most productive — season of his career, playing in 151 games and posting a .274/.367/.433 offensive line with 16 home runs, 30 doubles and seven triples, which led the league.
Ward is the perfect example of a player who gets lost in all the hustle and bustle of awards season. Though his numbers didn’t get him up to, say, a Silver Slugger level, he took a huge leap in productivity and emerged as a key member of the Los Angeles-Anaheim lineup, hitting .281/.360/.473. with 23 home runs and 22 doubles. His wRC+ of 137 ranked him seventh among qualifying rangers.
After missing half of 2021 due to injuries, Springer logged his most games (133) since 2018 and turned in a solid performance at the plate. His .814 OPS ranked ninth among qualifying outfielders. He hit 25 homers, 22 doubles, four triples and stole 14 bases. Nothing impressive, nothing spectacular, nor that it deserved an award. Still, it was a good year for a Toronto squad that needed Springer to step up.
DESIGNATED HITTER: Bryce Harper, Phillies
The 2022 campaign was one of several challenges for the gunboat. Following a season in which he was recognized as NL MVP in 2021, Harper suffered a sore right elbow that ultimately led to Tommy John surgery in November. The illness reduced him to the role of DB, and he, too, missed 52 games after being hit by a ball in the thumb. All that time out of action obviously didn’t make him a candidate in the award voting. But in this space, we get to celebrate what Harper accomplished in 99 regular-season games between all those hurdles — a .286/.364/.514 offensive line, 18 homers and 28 doubles with a Philadelphia team that finished him off. to his postseason drought (and then went deep in October). Not bad for a guy who played with only one healthy elbow.
STARTING: Zac Gallen, D-backs
That was a tough call, because every one of the 10 spots on the All-MLB Team (which obviously included both Cy Young winners) isn’t enough to recognize great pitching in baseball. But with apologies to Corbin Burnes, Carlos Rodón, Shane McClanahan, Néstor Cortés Jr. and others, Gallen has a very good case to be best of the rest in 2022. His 2.54 ERA tied him for eighth among pitchers who qualified in MLB, his 158 ERA+ was ninth and his 0.91 WHIP was second, trailing Justin Verlander’s 0.82. Gallen didn’t make the All-Star Game, but his streak of 44.1 scoreless innings in the second half was the seventh-longest in the live-ball era.
RELIEVER: Evan Phillips, Dodgers
This one was much more difficult, because the All-MLB Team only drafts four relievers (two that are awarded to Reliever of the Year winners) at a time when there are so many bullpen arms putting up insane statistics. But Phillips gets special credit here for posting the best ERA (1.14) among anyone with at least 40 innings, to go along with one of the top four WHIPs (0.76). After May 22, he gave up four runs through the end of the season. Four!
He gave up just two home runs this season — and none after May 26. He rose from anonymity to a key piece of relief for a Los Angeles club that, despite the ailments of Daniel Hudson and the problems of Craig Kimbrel, managed 111 victories.
We would love to say thanks to the author of this post for this remarkable material
The “Zero Prizes Team” of 2022 in the Major Leagues, by position