2022 players choice awards finalists

SINCE 1992, THE PLAYERS CHOICE AWARDS HAVE RECOGNIZED THE OUTSTANDING ON- AND OFF-FIELD PERFORMANCES OF PLAYERS.

 

THE AWARDS HAVE SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE TO PLAYERS BECAUSE THE WINNERS ARE SELECTED IN BALLOTING AMONG THEIR PEERS.

PRESS RELEASE:

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FINALISTS APPEAR IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

MARVIN MILLER MAN OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

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FRANCISCO LINDOR

Francisco Lindor, a former team player representative in Cleveland, has assumed additional responsibilities in player leadership with the Mets as an Alternate Association Player Rep. A Puerto Rico native, Lindor follows Carlos Villanueva and Elvis Andrus as the third Latin-American born player to serve on the union’s Executive Subcommittee. Beyond his advocacy for players, Lindor has lent his time and effort to numerous charities and causes in the community. In 2017-2018, he made several trips to Puerto Rico to help the island recover from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria. He has worked with young people through the Make-A-Wish and Boys & Girls Clubs, among other groups, and in 2021 he donated $1 million to Montverde Academy in Florida and established the Francisco Lindor Scholarship Fund. Lindor left Puerto Rico to attend Montverde in the eighth grade and credits the school with giving him a strong academic foundation that has endured throughout his baseball career. 

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MARCUS SEMIEN

Marcus Semien, the 2021 Marvin Miller Man of the Year, has been nominated for the award for the second straight year by his peers. Semien has been an engaged and committed voice on behalf of players as a member of the MLBPA’s Executive Subcommittee. During his tenure with the Oakland Athletics, he was a two-time club winner of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s Heart and Hustle Award, given to players who best demonstrate a passion for baseball and best embody the values, spirits and traditions of the game. A San Francisco native and Cal-Berkeley grad, Semien has advocated for diversity as a member of the Players Alliance and in his work with Coaching Corps, a group focused on increasing the number of Black coaches in the Bay Area. He has also been an advisor to the Taylor Hooton Foundation, an organization dedicated to educating young people on the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.  

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BRENT SUTER

Brent Suter has provided leadership and a steady, reliable voice in his role as Milwaukee Brewers player representative. His all-around contributions were reflected this year in his third nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award, one of the most prestigious honors in baseball. Suter studied environmental science and public policy at Harvard and has used his platform as an athlete to draw attention to the effects of climate change, the global crisis of plastic waste and other environmental causes. He has helped clean beaches in the Dominican Republic and planted trees in Milwaukee as a member of Players for the Planet, while supporting the Outrider Foundation, EcoAthletes and numerous other environmental groups. In 2022, Suter wrote a children’s book, “The Binky Bandit,’’ that was inspired by the family dog, Wally the golden doodle. During a book tour, Suter connected with children and families and educated them on ways to better protect the planet. 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

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PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT

In his fourth season with St. Louis, Goldschmidt won the NL Player of the Month Award in May and kept on producing. He led the league with a .578 slugging percentage and a .981 OPS while driving in 100 runs for the fourth time in his career. Goldschmidt’s seven seasons with 30 or more home runs since 2013 tie him with Nolan Arenado, Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion for most in the majors in that span. A four-time Gold Glove Award winner at first base, Goldschmidt was an NL finalist at the position again this season.

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AARON JUDGE

Aaron Judge captivated the baseball world with his power and all-around hitting acumen in 2022. His 62 home runs broke Roger Maris’ 61-year-old American League record. Judge also led the majors in runs scored (133), OBP (.425), slugging (.686), OPS (1.111) and extra-base hits, while tying for first with 131 RBI. He led the majors by 16 home runs, the largest gap at the top of the home run leader board since Jimmie Foxx outpaced the pack by 17 in 1932. Judge’s MLB-leading 391 total bases were the most by an AL player since Alex Rodriguez recorded 393 for the Texas Rangers in 2001.

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SHOHEI OHTANI

Ohtani continued his stellar run of two-way performance in 2022, becoming the first player in MLB history to accumulate 10 or more wins and 30 or more home runs. On the mound, Ohtani logged 15 wins, a 2.33 ERA and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. The only pitchers to equal or surpass those numbers in all three categories in a season were Randy Johnson in 1997 and Pedro Martinez in 1999. In 153 games as the Angels’ designated hitter, Ohtani slugged .519 with 34 homers and 95 RBIs. He started at DH for the AL in the All-Star Game and singled and walked in two plate appearances.

AMERICAN LEAGUE OUTSTANDING PLAYER FINALISTS

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AARON JUDGE

Aaron Judge captivated the baseball world with his power and all-around hitting acumen in 2022. His 62 home runs broke Roger Maris’ 61-year-old American League record. Judge also led the majors in runs scored (133), OBP (.425), slugging (.686), OPS (1.111) and extra-base hits, while tying for first with 131 RBI. He led the majors by 16 home runs, the largest gap at the top of the home run leader board since Jimmie Foxx outpaced the pack by 17 in 1932. Judge’s MLB-leading 391 total bases were the most by an AL player since Alex Rodriguez recorded 393 for the Texas Rangers in 2001.

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SHOHEI OHTANI

Ohtani continued his stellar run of two-way performance in 2022, becoming the first player in MLB history to accumulate 10 or more wins and 30 or more home runs. On the mound, Ohtani logged 15 wins, a 2.33 ERA and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. The only pitchers to equal or surpass those numbers in all three categories in a season were Randy Johnson in 1997 and Pedro Martinez in 1999. In 153 games as the Angels’ designated hitter, Ohtani slugged .519 with 34 homers and 95 RBIs. He started at DH for the AL in the All-Star Game and singled and walked in two plate appearances.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OUTSTANDING PLAYER FINALISTS

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FREDDIE FREEMAN

Freddie Freeman, a California native, thrived in his return to the West Coast after 12 seasons and five All-Star appearances with Atlanta. He led the National League in runs (117), hits (199), doubles (47) and on-base percentage (.407), and hit .325 to finish .001 behind Jeff McNeil of the Mets in the race for the NL batting title. Freeman received the 2022 Roy Campanella Award, given annually to the Dodgers player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher, in a vote by club personnel.

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PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT

In his third season with St. Louis, Goldschmidt won the NL Player of the Month Award in May and kept on producing. He led the league with a .578 slugging percentage and a .981 OPS while driving in 100 runs for the fourth time in his career. Goldschmidt’s seven seasons with 30 or more home runs since 2013 tie him with Nolan Arenado, Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion for most in the majors in that span. A four-time Gold Glove Award winner at first base, Goldschmidt was an NL finalist at the position again this season.

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AUSTIN RILEY

After winning a Silver Slugger Award and finishing seventh in National League MVP balloting at age 24, Austin Riley continued to put up big numbers in the No. 3-4 spots in the Atlanta batting order. He slugged 38 homers and 39 doubles and narrowly missed joining Chipper Jones as the second 40/40 man in franchise history. Riley set a franchise record with 26 extra base hits in July. He has been a durable presence at third base for the Braves, appearing in 319 of a possible 324 games over the past two seasons.

AMERICAN LEAGUE OUTSTANDING PITCHER FINALISTS

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DYLAN CEASE

Dylan Cease’s 2.20 ERA was the third best in the majors this season behind only Justin Verlander and Julio Urias. He allowed one or zero runs 23 times, tying Wilbur Wood of the 1972 White Sox for most in club history. Cease also ranked among baseball’s top five in opponents batting average (.190), strikeouts (227) and strikeouts per nine innings (11.1). He threw 8 2/3 no-hit innings against the Twins on September 3 before allowing a single to league batting champion Luis Arraez. Cease was AL Pitcher of the Month in June and July.

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ALEK MANOAH

Manoah, a 2019 first-round pick out of West Virginia University, emerged as an elite starter with the Blue Jays in 2022. He ranked third among qualifying AL pitchers in ERA (2.24) and wins (16), and his 25 quality starters tied him with Yu Darvish for second most in the majors behind Houston’s Framber Valdez, who logged 26. Manoah became only the sixth AL pitcher since 1920 to record a sub-1.00 WHIP before reaching age 25. He pitched a scoreless inning in his first All-Star appearance, recording all three outs via strikeout.

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JUSTIN VERLANDER

Justin Verlander enjoyed an incredible resurgence at age 39 after missing two seasons following 2020 Tommy John surgery.  He led the American League in wins (18), ERA (1.75), WHIP (0.83), opponents OPS (.498), opponents batting average (.186) and hits per nine innings (5.97). Verlander’s ERA was the lowest by an AL starting pitcher in a full season since Pedro Martinez posted a 1.74 ERA for Boston in 200. He made his ninth All-Star team in 2022 and passed Fergie Jenkins, Pedro Martinez, Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling, CC Sabathia and John Smoltz on MLB’s career strikeout list.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OUTSTANDING PITCHER FINALISTS

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SANDY ALCANTARA

Sandy Alcantara (14-9, 2.28) solidified his credentials as one of baseball’s premier workhorses with a major-league high six complete games and 228 1/3 innings pitched. He lasted at least eight innings in 14 starts this season, the most by a major-league pitcher since Chris Sale did it 13 times in 2016. Alcantara notched his second straight season with 200 or more innings and 200-plus strikeouts. The last starters to accomplish the feat were the Mets’ Jacob deGrom and the Astros’ Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, all of whom did it in 2018-2019.

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ZAC GALLEN

Zac Gallen enjoyed a breakthrough season at age 26 with the Diamondbacks, his third professional organization. He posted the lowest WHIP (0.913) and hit rate in the National League (5.9 per nine innings pitched) while racking up a career-high 184 innings. Gallen was especially formidable during a seven-start stretch in August and September, when he threw 44 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. His streak broke Brandon Webb’s franchise record 42-inning string in 2007 and was the longest in the majors since Zack Greinke tossed 45 2/3 straight scoreless innings in 2015.

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JULIO URIAS

Julio Urias, a 25-year-old left-hander, is 49-17 with a 2.82 ERA over parts of seven seasons with the Dodgers. The Culiacan, Mexico native stifled lefty hitters to the tune of a .178 batting average this year while limiting righties to a .204 average. Urias elevated his game in the second half, going 9-1 with a 1.26 ERA after the All-Star break to help the Dodgers win 111 games and capture their ninth NL West title in 10 seasons. Urias has a career won-loss record of 29-2 in July, August and September.

AMERICAN LEAGUE OUTSTANDING ROOKIE FINALISTS

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JULIO RODRIGUEZ

Julio Rodriguez, 21, played a feature role in leading Seattle to the postseason for the first time since 2001.  He led major-league rookies in homers (28), total bases (260), slugging percentage (.509) and OPS (.853), and joined Chris Young of the 2007 Diamondbacks and Mike Trout of the 2012 Angels as the third rookie to amass at least 25 homers and 25 steals. Rodriguez joined Alvin Davis and Ichiro Suzuki as one of three Seattle rookies to post a Baseball-reference.com WAR of 6+ in a season. He was AL Rookie of the Month in May and June and MLB’s only rookie All-Star.

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ADLEY RUTSCHMAN

Rutschman, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft out of Oregon State, made an immediate impact upon joining the Orioles from Triple-A Norfolk on May 21 and helped propel the team to its first winning season since 2016. He led the Orioles, MLB rookies and AL catchers with a 5.3 fWAR, per FanGraphs, and became the first Baltimore rookie since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1982 to amass 10 or more homers and 30 or more doubles in a season. Rutschman was named the Orioles’ 2022 team MVP by members of the Baltimore media.

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BOBBY WITT JR.

Bobby Witt Jr. became part of an elite group with his power-speed combination in his debut season with the Royals. He joined Barry Bonds (1987), Álex Rodríguez (1998), Mike Trout (2013) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (2019) as only the fifth player since 1974 to record at least 20 home runs and 30 steals in his age-22 season or younger. Witt became the third rookie in MLB history to collect at least 20 homers, 30 doubles and 25 steals in a season, following Devon White and Ellis Burks, who both accomplished the feat in 1987.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OUTSTANDING ROOKIE FINALISTS

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BRENDAN DONOVAN

Brendan Donovan, a former seventh round draft pick out of the University of South Alabama, stood out as a rookie for his contact hitting, plate discipline and versatility in the field. He drew 60 walks (along with 14 HBPs), and his .394 OBP was the third best in Cardinals’ franchise history for a rookie behind Albert Pujols’ .403 in 2001 and Stan Musial’s .397 in 1942. Donovan played six positions for St. Louis and became the only player since 1900 to play four different infield positions in the first four starts of his career.

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MICHAEL HARRIS II

Michael Harris, 21, became the youngest Georgia-born player to debut for the Braves since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966 when he arrived from Double-A Mississippi and started in center field on May 28. The Braves, 22-24 at the time, went 79-37 the rest of the way. Among MLB rookies with at least 250 plate appearances, Harris ranked first in slugging (.514) and OPS (.853) and second in batting average (.297). He hit .383 with runners in scoring position and had the fifth best OPS (.880) through 100 career games in franchise history.

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SPENCER STRIDER

Spencer Strider, a 2020 fourth round pick out of Clemson University, posted dominant numbers in 20 starts and 31 appearances. He went 11-5 with a 2.67 ERA, struck out 202 and allowed only 86 hits in 131 2/3 innings. Strider’s average of 13.8 strikeouts per 9.0 innings surpassed the previous mark of 12.6 for a rookie pitcher held by Kerry Wood of the 1998 Cubs. Strider’s season highlight came on September 1, when he set a club record with 16 strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter over eight innings in a 3-0 victory over the Rockies.  

AMERICAN LEAGUE COMEBACK PLAYER FINALISTS

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MATT CARPENTER

Matt Carpenter became a free agent for the first time in his career after St. Louis declined his 2022 option. He began this season with Texas’ Triple-A Round Rock farm club before being released in May. Upon joining the Yankees in June, Carpenter went on a historic power binge. He set a club record with 13 homers in his first 30 games and became the first Yankees outfielder to drive in seven runs in a game against the Red Sox since Joe DiMaggio accomplished the feat in 1940. Carpenter logged a .305/.412/.727 slash line before suffering a fractured left foot in August.

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MIKE TROUT

After appearing in only 36 games in 2021 because of a calf injury, Trout returned to his All-Star form this season. Despite a back injury that sidelined him for five weeks, Trout joined Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., Matt Williams, J.D. Martinez and Nelson Cruz as the sixth player in history to record 40 or more home runs while appearing in 120 or fewer games in a season. Trout homered in seven straight games in September to fall one short of the major-league record shared by Griffey, Dale Long and Don Mattingly. He was elected to his 10th career All-Star Game before turning 31 in August.

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JUSTIN VERLANDER

Justin Verlander enjoyed an incredible resurgence at age 39 after missing two seasons following 2020 Tommy John surgery.  He led the American League in wins (18), ERA (1.75), WHIP (0.83), opponents OPS (.498), opponents batting average (.186) and hits per nine innings (5.97). Verlander’s ERA was the lowest by an AL starting pitcher in a full season since Pedro Martinez posted a 1.74 ERA for Boston in 200. He made his ninth All-Star team in 2022 and passed Fergie Jenkins, Pedro Martinez, Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling, CC Sabathia and John Smoltz on MLB’s career strikeout list.

NATIONAL LEAGUE COMEBACK PLAYER FINALISTS

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RONALD ACUÑA JR.

Acuna, 24, appeared in his third All-Star Game this year while making an impressive comeback from a torn ACL in his right knee that he suffered in July 2021. He hit 15 homers, logged a .764 OPS and ranked third in the National League with 29 stolen bases despite missing the first three weeks of the season in the final stages of his recovery. In August, Acuna became the 13th player in MLB history to accumulate at least 500 hits, 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases before age 25.

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BRANDON DRURY

Brandon Drury split the 2021 season between the New York Mets and their Triple-A farm club in Syracuse. He signed a minor-league contract with Cincinnati in March, seized the Reds’ Opening Day third base job and slashed .274/.335/.520 in 92 games before being traded to San Diego in early August. Drury hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw as a Padre and helped San Diego advance to the National League Championship as a middle-of-the-order bat from the right side. He slugged .626 in 147 at-bats vs. left-handed pitching this season.

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ALBERT PUJOLS

Albert Pujols capped off a Hall of Fame career in style, launching 24 home runs in his farewell season with the Cardinals. He led the National League with 18 homers after the All-Star break and finished his career with 703 long balls, fourth most in history behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. Pujols’ .550 slugging percentage this season was his highest since 2010. He retires at age 42 with three MVP awards, 3,384 career hits (ninth most in history) and 2,218 RBIs (second most ever behind Aaron).

CURT FLOOD AWARD FINALISTS

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BUCK MARTINEZ

A smart, tough catcher whose passion, competitiveness and ability to communicate made him a natural on-field leader during a 17-year career, Buck Martinez applied those same traits to his advocacy for players as a longtime player rep and union leader. He was front-and-center on behalf of the Players Association during his 17-year career spanning the ‘70s and ‘80s, a period when the union first established itself and later fended off repeated assaults on free agency, resulting in four strikes and two lockouts.  Since his retirement as a player, Martinez has worn multiple hats on and off the field but has remained a vocal Players Association advocate and has contributed his time and expertise to multiple PA projects. He managed the Blue Jays for two seasons and was the skipper for Team USA in the first World Baseball Classic in 2006 and has been a champion of former players in need through his efforts with the Baseball Assistance Team. “The number one rewarding aspect of the involvement is that we are helping out our brothers and sisters,’’ Martinez said after assuming his role as a B.A.T. director. “Baseball, as big as it is, is still a very small family that looks out for one another.’’ Martinez has been a popular broadcaster for the Orioles, Blue Jays and multiple national outlets through the years. In July this year, Martinez received a standing ovation from Blue Jays players and fans upon returning to the booth following a hiatus to undergo cancer treatment.  

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BROOKS ROBINSON

Brooks Robinson’s prowess on the field – where he was a mainstay of the powerhouse Baltimore Orioles’ clubs of the 1960s and 1970s and won an incredible 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards – only partially defines his legacy. The 1964 American League MVP was a strong supporter of the MLBPA and Marvin Miller in the union’s formative years, serving as the Orioles’ player representative for 10 years and the American League rep from 1970 to 1975. He was among the Player leaders who in the spring of 1972 voted to go on strike for the first time above the recommendations of Miller and then-general counsel Richard Moss. It was a defining moment in MLBPA history as Players for the first time asserted control of their union. Robinson and Mark Belanger established a tradition of player advocacy in Baltimore, and Don Baylor, Doug DeCinces, B.J. Surhoff and others perpetuated it in the years to come. In 1982, Robinson helped found the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, an organization dedicated to promoting baseball, working with youth groups, helping provide medical care for major-league alumni, and raising money for local and national charities. “There's not a man who knows him who wouldn't swear for his integrity and honesty and give testimony to his consideration of others,’’ wrote John Steadman of the Baltimore News American. “He's an extraordinary human being, which is important, and the world's greatest third baseman of all time, which is incidental.”   

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STEVE ROGERS

No Player has devoted more of his professional career on and off the field to advocating for his fellow Players than former Montreal Expos All-Star pitcher Steve Rogers. He spent 10 of his 13 seasons with the Expos as the team’s Player Rep and another two as an alternate. He was elected the NL’s Pension Rep at the 1976 Executive Board meeting – a position he would hold until his retirement in 1985 -- and he was part of the union’s original Executive Subcommittee in 1979. Immersing himself in complex issues, Rogers earned the respect of his peers as a voice of common sense and a driving force for Player unity, strength and resolve.  During the 1981 strike, Rogers, Bob Boone, Doug DeCinces and Mark Belanger were among the players directly involved in negotiations with owners. In his book “Lords of the Realm,’’ John Helyar described Rogers as a “calm, analytical voice in the committee's caucuses.’’ Rogers was so integral to PA operations that a year into retirement then-Executive Director Don Fehr called on him in late 1986 to consult on Pension Committee matters and in 1988 to assist in sorting out the collusion cases of that era. He joined the Players Association full-time as a Special Assistant in 1999 and at age 72 continues to serve the PA and Players with his institutional knowledge and encyclopedic grasp of the pension fund and benefit plans. As a Player, Rogers made five All-Star teams, surpassed 230 innings eight times and established himself as a consistent and durable starter over a 13-year career. A remarkable 129 of Rogers’ 399 starts resulted in complete games. Rogers has also been a longtime director of the MLB Players Alumni Association and was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.