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Fantasy Baseball Awards: Recognizing MLB’s biggest difference-makers in 2022

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With just a few days to go until the end of the 2022 regular season, we’ve come to a point where we can confidently name the winners of our fantasy awards. These are players who have been so good that they have made up for shortcomings elsewhere and have led their teams to many league titles. Some outstanding stars just didn’t make it to the list, but here are the names that won the most prestigious awards.

American League Player of the Year: Aaron Judge, HF, New York Yankees

Judge has put together one of the best fantasy seasons in recent memory, leading the Majors in homers, runs and RBIs (tied) and fourth in batting average. And the icing on the cake for Judge was the addition of a speed component in the form of 16 interceptions. His total of 60 homers is 18 more than any other player, and he is the top pick in the 2022 draft.

National League Player of the Year: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals

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Goldschmidt started this season slowly (1 HR, .728 OPS in April) before skyrocketing in May (10 HR, 1.288 OPS) and never looking back. The 35-year-old ranks in the top 10 in batting average, homers, RBIs and runs scored, as well as total steals (6), which is useful in this era. According to Statcast, Goldie has far outperformed expectations, raising fears that he could experience a notable slump next year.

Paul Goldschmidt honored the fantasy managers who selected him this season.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Paul Goldschmidt honored the fantasy managers who selected him this season. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Best Pitcher, Alabama: Justin Verlander, SP, Houston Astros

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Verlander is the best story of 2022 as he returned from Tommy John surgery at age 39 to lead the Majors in ERA and WHIP. The right-hander retained the radar readings of yesteryear, and his handling skills remain impeccable. Verlander’s birth date is the only reason to doubt a repeat in 2023.

Best Pitcher, Netherlands: Julio Urias, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

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Given the overall success of the Dodgers’ rotation, it’s no surprise that a member of their quintet tops the NL roster. Urias started off slow this season but now has elite odds (2.25 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) and has won 14 of his last 17 starts.

The best helper AL: Emmanuel Clayse, RP, Cleveland Guardians

Although Clays lacks the inflated out-to-ball ratios commonly associated with elite closers, he has a skill set that matches some of the greatest players of all time. The right-hander limits walks, and when he finally allows runners to be on base, he usually sends them quickly back to the dugout thanks to his elite ball speed. I expect Clayse to be at the top of my 2023 pitcher rankings.

The best helper NetherlandsStory: Ryan Helsley, RP, St. Louis Cardinals

Helsley took an unconventional path to this honor, finishing 19th in the majors with 18 saves. The 28-year-old posted an outstanding strikeout rate of 39.2 percent, which helped him hold off opposing hitters at a .134 average. Helsley has dropped a lot of flyballs this year, but not too many homers, raising concerns that he will be slightly less effective in 2023. In addition, his track record through 2022 has been less than impressive. However, Helsley will be in the top 10 pitchers next year.

Best Rookie ALLineup: Julio Rodriguez, OF, Seattle Mariners

Like Goldschmidt, Rodriguez was underwhelmed in April (.544 OPS) before taking off in May. He showed most of his stats (16 HR, 21 SB) before the All-Star break, and while he was quieter in terms of fantasy in the second half, his OPS remained consistent throughout the campaign. Rodriguez only stole four sacks in the second half, but managers who overlook his fickle base management could justify his first-round pick next spring.

Best Rookie Netherlands: Spencer Strider, SP/RP, Atlanta Braves

Strider became one of the best stories of the 2022 season, starting a campaign in the bullpen before becoming a dominant starter. The Ohio native ranks seventh in the majors with 202 strikeouts despite throwing just 131.2 innings, raising hopes that he’ll use a heavy workload next season to contend for first place in the whiff category. Executives should seriously consider putting Strider in first place in 2023.

The best addition to payment waiver, ALStory: Andres Jimenez, 2B/SS, Cleveland Guardians

Jimenez fits the description of a sleeper after the hype perfectly as he was a trendy mid-round pick in 2021 before wrestling all season and becoming an afterthought in this year’s draft. He became the multi-category statistician we all hoped for, hitting 17 homers and 19 steals with a few days left to add to those numbers. And the best part is that Jimenez showed more ability on base than expected, hitting .303.

The best addition to payment waiver, NetherlandsLineup: Michael Harris II, OF, Atlanta Braves

The Braves farming system continues to bring great promise, and Harris is the next man in a long time of game-changing stars. The 21-year-old didn’t have any ill effects from going straight from Double-A to the Majors and did one of his best jobs in September, giving hope he can do even better next year. While I’m not sure Harris can match his .305 batting average (he had a BABIP of .367), I believe he’ll flirt with a 30-plateau in both homers and steals in 2023.



Source: sports.yahoo.com

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