2022 Sporting News MLB Awards: Aaron Judge Named Best Player; Spencer Strider and Julio Rodriguez take rookie honors

The 2022 MLB season was a compelling campaign filled with historic moments and record-breaking performances, not to mention a healthy dose of other drama, and those elements are all reflected in the results of this year’s Sporting News MLB Awards.

The annual poll of players, managers and executives was held in September and early October to determine MLB Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year and Manager of the Year.

MORE: The Sports News 2022 NL All-Stars | AL All Stars

The Sporting News has been awarding MLB awards since 1936. These are the winners for 2022.

MLB Player of the Year: Aaron Judge, Yankees

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(Image by Shawn James/TSN)

Aaron Judge was as dominant hitter as any team could wish for in 2022. He not only set a new single-season home run record in the American League, but produced gaudy MVP-like numbers across the board. He led the league in runs, RBIs, walks, percentage on base, percentage slugging, OPS, OPS+ and total bases. And don’t forget, he’s also been flirting with a Triple Crown.

In the end, this resulted in a 10.6 bWAR and a runaway win for Sporting News’ MLB Player of the Year.

In a poll of 360 players, Judge received 66 percent of the vote, easily overtaking runner-up Shohei Ohtani, who received about 18 percent.

While seven players received at least one vote in the category, in the minds of the overwhelming majority of voters, 2022 was clearly The Aaron Judge Show.

NL Rookie of the Year: Spencer Strider, Braves

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(Image by Shawn James/TSN)

Of all the records and historic accomplishments in 2022, perhaps the most surprising was Spencer Strider, hitting 200 strikeouts in a season faster than any pitcher in history.

This is impressive for anyone, but especially for a beginner. But then again, everything Strider has done this season has been impressive. So it’s easy to see why his big league peers voted him the 2022 Sporting News National League Rookie of the Year.

Strider posted an 11-5 record and used a three-digit fastball and wicked breaking pitches to establish himself as a key figure in the Braves’ starting rotation. His 2.67 ERA led all qualified rookie starters and those 202 strikeouts were easily ahead in the rookie class.

In a poll of 212 players for the NL Rookie Awards, Strider won more than place with 47 percent of the vote, finishing ahead of teammate Michael Harris II, who received 41 percent. These results illustrate why the future looks so bright for Atlanta.

NL Comeback Player of the Year: Brandon Drury, Reds/Padres

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After back-to-back disappointing seasons that included a total of 72 MLB games with the Blue Jays and Mets, Brandon Drury made a fresh start in 2022 in Cincinnati and certainly made the best of it.

In 92 games with the Reds, Drury hit 20 home runs and compiled an .855 OPS before a deadline trade sent him to the Padres for the stretch run. In San Diego, Drury hit eight more homers and helped the Padres make their playoff push. His overall performance was enough for his teammates to earn him the Sporting News National League’s Comeback Player of the Year.

Drury received a 49 percent majority of the vote in a poll of 206 MLB players to easily receive the award, passing the Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr., the Padres’ Mike Clevenger and the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols.

They were all memorable comebacks, but it was Drurys that resonated most with his peers.

NL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter, Mets

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2022 marked a new era for Mets Baseball — a new perspective, a new attitude, and a new energy that led to the team’s 101 wins and first playoff berth since 2016.

A major reason for this freshness in Flushing was new manager Buck Showalter.

After years of turmoil and drama for the franchise, Showalter brought a reassuring presence and decades of baseball savvy that helped keep the Mets playing at a high level all season. This was noticed by his National League peers who voted him Sporting News NL Manager of the Year.

In a close race among six NL managers who received votes, Showalter narrowly edged out Phillies manager Rob Thomson to accept the award. It is Showalter’s fourth athletic new manager of the year award, following wins with the Yankees, Rangers and Orioles. He is only the third manager ever, alongside Jim Leyland and Bobby Cox, to have won the award at least four times.

AL Rookie of the Year: Julio Rodriguez, Mariners

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There were several standout rookies in the American League in 2022, but Julio Rodriguez stood out from the rest.

Rodriguez made a splash this season and the 21-year-old was a big reason the Mariners finally ended their 21-year playoff drought. Rodriguez hit 28 homers and led Seattle in average base percentage, runs, OPS, OPS+, total bases, and stolen bases. Not to mention a batting rate in the 95th percentile in the league and elite sprint speed and arm strength.

His teammates were clearly impressed as he was their overwhelming pick for Sporting News American League Rookie of the Year. Rodriguez received a whopping 80 percent of the votes in a poll of 133 players.

If his 2022 season is any indication, Rodriguez will be a force in the American League for a long time to come.

AL Comeback Player of the Year: Justin Verlander, Astros

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(Image by Shawn James/TSN)

There are comebacks and then there are COMEBACKS. Justin Verlander the second species in 2022.

After just one start in 2020 and missing the entire 2021 season following Tommy John’s surgery, Verlander returned to his Cy Young form in 2022 and looked as strong as ever. With a league-leading 18-4 record and 1.75 ERA, the 39-year-old Verlander continued to stun in another All-Star campaign – and also left no doubt in the running for the Sporting News American League comeback player that year.

In a poll of 116 players, Verlander received 78 percent of the votes, slightly outperforming the competition.

Given Verlander’s performance this season, he will almost certainly turn down his 2023 player option and test free-agent waters once more. And if teams think he can produce in 2023 like he did in 2022, he’s in for a huge payday.

AL Manager of the Year: Brandon Hyde, Orioles

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(Image by Shawn James/TSN)

What happened in Baltimore this season was less unlikely than wonderful. After averaging 111 losses over the past three full seasons, the Orioles entered Victory Land in mid-May and have never looked back despite selling talent at deadline.

With a young roster showing strong potential, the Orioles found themselves ending the season with a winning record for the first time since 2016.

And the ship steered all the way through manager Brandon Hyde, who got more out of his young team than anyone expected and kept them in the playoff chase to the end.

Hyde’s role in the Baltimore turnaround earned him the admiration of his fellow AL skippers, who voted him the 2022 Sporting News American League Manager of the Year. Hyde received 50 percent of the vote, edging out Houston’s Dusty Baker and Cleveland’s Terry Francona.

Hyde is the seventh Orioles manager to receive this award and the first since Showalter in 2012.

MLB Manager of the Year: Chris Antonetti, Guardians

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(Image by Shawn James/TSN)

Perhaps the only ones who understand the challenges of being an MLB executive are the executives themselves. So when a name appears repeatedly on the Sporting News Executive of the Year ballot, it’s safe to assume that person is impressing their peers in some way has that only they can appreciate.

So Chris Antonetti, bow down.

For the second time in five years, the president of the Guardians’ baseball operations was the winner in a poll of 29 executives, receiving nearly twice as many votes as everyone else.

Antonetti managed MLB’s youngest roster and one with relatively little power, but the team’s 92 wins and AL Central title are a testament to the judgment and skill of Antonetti and his staff.

Another big win for Antonetti was signing All-Star Slugger Jose Ramirez for a seven-year, $141 million extension. Ramirez responded with a 6 bWAR season that included 29 homers and 126 RBIs.

If Cleveland stays competitive and continues to defy expectations, Antonetti could have more of those awards in his future.



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