Friday, August 19, 2022

2022 MLB midseason awards picks: Shohei Ohtani beats Aaron Judge for MVP; unanimous Cy Young selections, more

The pomp and circumstance of the 2022 MLB All-Star Game is upon us and meaningful regular season games will return later this week. When they do, 18 of the 30 teams will be within five games of a postseason spot. With 57 percent of the 2022 regular season is in the books (1,386 of 2,430 games have bee played), this is as good a time as any to hand out midseason awards. 

To determine our midseason awards our four CBS Sports MLB writers (R.J. Anderson, Mike Axisa, Dayn Perry, Matt Snyder) and intrepid MLB editor (Stephen Pianovich) each cast a hypothetical ballot for the four majors award (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie and Manager of the Year) in each league. Our rules:

  • Individual ballots for each award include three players. In reality, the MVP ballot is 10 players deep and the Cy Young ballot is five players deep. Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year each include three slots.
  • The scoring system: Three points for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote, and one point for a third-place vote. Most points wins. Nice and easy.

Just to show you how much can change, last year we did not give Bryce Harper a single NL MVP vote or Robbie Ray a single AL Cy Young vote in our midseason awards. Those two took home the hardware thanks to monster second halves. There is still so much baseball to be played and so many awards race narratives to build. This is just a snapshot in time. Nothing more.

Below are our 2022 midseason award voting results as well as a short blurb on the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie and Manager of the Year races. Away we go …

AL MVP: Shohei Ohtani, Angels

My hunch is Judge would win MVP if the season ended today, but on our ballots, Ohtani reigns supreme. He started slowly and has been molten hot of late (pretty much the opposite of Judge), and although the Angels are the baseball equivalent of the This Is Fine dog, Ohtani’s historic play and transcendent two-way talent make him the league’s most valuable player in our eyes. Not even the Angels stink can hold this guy down in our voting. This is once-in-a-lifetime stuff we’re witnessing.

NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals

The Cardinals and Padres are certainly getting what they’re paying for with Arenado, Goldschmidt, and Machado. They are three of the six highest-paid position players in the National League this season and they are top three in our midseason MVP voting. Goldschmidt edges out the other two thanks to his all-out assault on Senior Circuit pitching the last two-and-a-half months. He leads the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and (duh) OPS and OPS+. He’s also hitting .413 with runners in scoring position and playing good defense. Yeah, that’ll do it. 

AL Cy Young: Shane McClanahan, Rays

The easiest midseason awards call. McClanahan leads baseball — not just the American League — in ERA and WHIP, and he leads his league in ERA+ and K/BB as well. The Rays have not had a pitcher throw enough innings to qualify for the ERA title since Charlie Morton in 2019, but McClanahan is seventh in the league in innings. Tampa is not handling him with kid gloves. McClanahan is a workhorse putting up ace numbers. A deserving midseason Cy Young winner, through and through. Verlander will have to settle for our hypothetical midseason AL Comeback Player of the Year award.

NL Cy Young: Sandy Alcantara, Marlins

In the age of openers and pitchers not being allowed to go through the lineup a third time, Alcantara is a throwback, eating up innings and asking for seconds. He leads baseball in innings (by 11 2/3) and batters faced (by 36), and he’s thrown at least seven innings in his last 13 starts. No other pitcher has thrown seven innings in more than 12 starts period, nevermind consecutively. And it’s not like Alcantara is eating innings with 4.00 ERA either. He’s second in baseball in ERA and leads all players (pitchers and hitters) with 5.3 WAR. Just a marvelous, marvelous season.

AL Rookie of the Year: Julio Rodríguez, Mariners

This was Peña’s award the first few weeks of the season. Then Rodríguez caught up and the two were neck-and-neck. Now Julio is pulling away and is simply one of the best players in baseball, not just one of the best rookies. He has a chance to go 30/30 as a rookie, something only the great Mike Trout has done, and he’s a lock to become only the 12th rookie to go 20/20 as long as he stays on the field. Given the franchise’s issues developing top position player prospects the last 10-15 years, Rodríguez having an immediate impact is a breath of fresh air for the Mariners faithful.

NL Rookie of the Year: Spencer Strider, Braves

Pick your Brave. Strider and Harris dominate our voting . At this point in the season Strider wins out, though Harris could move ahead of his teammate in the end-of-year voting because Atlanta will have to monitor Strider’s workload a bit down the stretch. It must be noted the NL rookie class is stacked this year. Diamondbacks outfielder Alek Thomas, Cubs import Seiya Suzuki, Padres lefty MacKenzie Gore, and several others could make noise in this race before the season lets out.

AL Manager of the Year: Aaron Boone, Yankees

Aaron Boone, Yankees

2

1

8

Brandon Hyde, Orioles

2

1

7

Scott Servais, Mariners

1

1

1

6

Rocco Baldelli, Twins

2

1

5

Dusty Baker, Astros

1

1

3

Terry Francona, Guardians

1

1

Being the manager of the sport’s best team, a team that for much of the season has been on pace to challenge the single-season wins total, equals Manager of the Year votes. Boone hardly runs away with the award in our voting though. Manager of the Year often goes to the manager of the team that most exceeds expectations, and Hyde qualifies thanks to an Orioles club that is no longer a pushover and entered the All-Star break at a respectable 46-46. Note that six of the 13 AL managers to manage their team all season (so not Angels or Blue Jays managers) received a Manager of the Year vote. Nearly half.

NL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter, Mets

Buck Showalter, Mets

3

1

10

Bob Melvin, Padres

1

1

2

7

Rob Thompson, Phillies

2

2

6

Dave Roberts, Dodgers

1

3

Craig Counsell, Brewers

1

2

Brian Snitker, Braves

1

2

Methinks this Manager of the Year race will be decided in the second half. Other than the NL West, every division and wild-card race is tight, and the team that a) gets hot and runs away with, or b) unexpectedly sneaks into the postseason could be the team that wins their manager some hardware. For now, Showalter gets our vote in his first season with the Mets. New York has been one of the league’s best teams all year and they’ve done it without Max Scherzer for a long stretch of time and without Jacob deGrom period.

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