Judge, Ohtani, Alvarez finalists for American League MVP

In the next phase of a historic American League MVP race, Aaron Judge of the Yankees and Shohei Ohtani of the Angels led the list of finalists for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America MLB awards, according to voting results announced Monday night emerges.

To call Judge and Ohtani’s seasons historical is almost an understatement.

Judge set a new American League record with 62 home runs during a seasonal run that captivated the baseball world all summer. He also posted AL-best numbers in RBIs (131), runs (133), walks (111), on-base percentage (0.425), and slugging percentage (0.686). He also finished second to Minnesota’s Luis Arraez in the AL batting race, narrowly missing a clean win in all of his league’s major batting categories.

That sort of performance would make a player a unanimous MVP pick most seasons, but Judge had to contend with Ohtani, whose unprecedented success in a dual role as hitter and pitcher has perhaps reached another level this season.

After becoming the AL’s MVP by a unanimous vote a year ago, Ohtani followed that up by hitting .273 with 34 homers, 95 RBIs, 90 runs and 11 stolen bases. Meanwhile, he got even better on the mound, going 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts while staying on the sidelines of the AL Cy Young conversation.

The unfortunate #3 finalist in this MVP chase is feared Houston slugger Yordan Alvarez, who hit .306 with a .406 percentage on base and a .613 percentage in slugging and placed second in all three categories. He hit 37 home runs, drove 97 runs and scored 95 points.

If, as expected, Alvarez finished a distant No. 3 in voting, he could take solace in the euphoria of his triple homer in Saturday’s Astros’ World Series clincher, an epic 450-foot blast away from Jose Alvarado of the Phillies.

Among the three finalists for the NL Awards are two Cardinals looking to break the MVP hump.

St. Louis first baseman Paul Goldschmidt has finished in the top 10 of the NL MVP pick six times, including four in the top five, but is aiming to win the honor for the first time.

Goldschmidt put on a monster season and had a chance to break an 85-year drought for NL Triple Crown winners late in the season. He hit .317 with a .404 on-base percentage and a .578 NL-high slugging percentage, hit 35 home runs, drove in 115 carries and scored 106 goals.

On the other side of the diamond, Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado is also an MVP finalist. Like Goldschmidt, he never won the award but has received plenty of support with five previous top 10 finishes. This is his second time finishing in the top three.

Arenado hit .293 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs to win NL Gold Glove Honors at third base for the 10th straight year.

The San Diego Padres’ Manny Machado hit .298 with 32 homers with 102 RBIs and 100 runs scored, all totals consistent with the annual production he’s put together during his 11-year career. He has previously been in the top five in MVP picks three times, twice in Baltimore and once for the Padres. After the 2020 season, he took third place in the voting.

The AL Cy Young race comes down to a long-running favorite and two new faces on the awards circuit.

The familiar face is that of Houston ace Justin Verlander. After just one start in the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to an elbow injury, Verlander made a better-than-ever return for the champions Astros. He led the AL in victories (18) and ERA (1.75), the latter number being the best of a 17-year career that will likely bring Verlander into the Hall of Fame.

Verlander are no strangers to post-season accolades. He is bidding to become just the 11th pitcher to win three or more Cy Youngs, having won the award in 2011 and 2019.

Newcomers to the race are right-handers Dylan Cease of the White Sox and Alek Manoah of the Blue Jays.

Cease’s gradual improvement as a big league starter led to a stellar performance that season. He went 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA and knocked out 227 batters. Manoah was 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA, pitched for 196⅔ innings and showed signs of becoming an old-school rotary workhorse.

Marlin’s righty Sandy Alcantara is a top-10 finisher in the running for National League Cy Young honors for the first time. Considered by many to be the pick for the honor, Alcantara produced a relapsing season in which he went 14-9 with a 2.28 ERA over an MLB-high 228⅔ innings with six full games, the most by any pitcher in six years.

Joining Alcantara as the NL Cy Young finalists are two lefties, the Braves’ Max Fried and the Dodgers’ Julio Urias.

Fried went 14-7 with a 2.48 ERA during an All-Star season and won a Gold Glove Award after the campaign. He came fifth in the 2020 Cy Young pick.

Urias wore off his 20-3 season in 2021 with a 17-7 season that included an NL-best 2.16 ERA. Urias, who finished seventh in last year’s NL Cy Young race, is bidding to join Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela and Clayton Kershaw as the left Cy Young winner for the Dodgers.

Glorious Mariners midfielder Julio Rodriguez tops the list of finalists in a high-profile race for AL Rookie of the Year, joining Cleveland left fielder Steven Kwan and Baltimore catcher Adleyrutschman.

21-year-old Rodriguez helped the Mariners overcome a 21-year playoff drought, hitting .284 with 28 homers, 75 RBIs and 25 stolen bases while providing stellar defense on the field while also proving himself to be one of the most charismatic youngsters Established Stars of Baseball .

Not only did Schiebeman live up to the potential that made him the first pick of the 2019 draft, but he also ended the season as Baltimore’s Most Valuable Player, as voted by local media.

rutschman didn’t make his major league debut until May 21 when the Orioles were 16-24. They went the rest of the way 67-55 asrutschman quickly established himself as one of the top all-around catchers in the majors. He hit .254 with 13 homers, 42 RBIs and a .362 on-base percentage in 113 games while posting nine saved defensive runs, according to Sports Info Solutions.

Meanwhile, Kwan was an avatar for the go-go style of play that led the Cleveland Guardians, baseball’s youngest team, to the AL Central title. He walked 62 times while hitting just 60 shots, batting .298s, stealing 19 bases and hitting 85 runs while becoming one of four Cleveland defensemen to win a Gold Glove.

rutschman and Kwan were college teammates at Oregon State.

Rookie class in the AL was particularly high this season, with accomplished rookies like Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. and Houston’s Jeremy Pena missing as finalists. Pena, who spent part of his day riding in the Astros Championship Parade on Monday, will be back in October when he was named MVP of both the ALCS and the World Series.

The race for the NL rookie honors could come down to an elusive neck-and-neck race between Atlanta teammates.

Braves outfielder Michael Harris didn’t cause much excitement in the preseason, but he did capture the centerfield position for the defending champion, hitting .297 in 114 games with 19 home runs and 20 stolen bases.

Voters had to judge Harris’ performance as a hitter against the pitching of fellow Braves rookie finalist Spencer Strider, who went 11-5 with a 2.67 ERA and trained in the Atlanta bullpen earlier in the season before establishing himself as a starter established. He hit 202 hitters, averaging a whopping 13.8 touches per nine innings.

Joining Harris and Strider in the NL rookie race is Cardinals utility player Brendan Donovan, who hit .281 with a .394 on-base percentage while playing in six different positions plus defense.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde is a first-time AL Manager of the Year finalist for his work leading the remarkable turnaround in Baltimore. After losing 110 games in 2021, the Orioles went 83-79 and stayed in the wildcard chase through the final days of the season.

The other finalists for the award are Seattle’s Scott Servais, who came second in the voting last year, and Cleveland’s Terry Francona. Francona has won the award twice, in 2013 and 2016, and has now finished sixth or better in the voting 12 times.

The Mets’ Buck Showalter is a finalist for NL Manager of the Year after helping New York return to the postseason for the first time since 2016. The Dodgers’ Dave Roberts and Braves’ Brian Snitker are the other finalists.

Showalter returned to the coaching bench for the first time since 2018 and led the Mets to 101 wins, the most by any team he’s skippered in 21 seasons as a big league. He is running for manager of the year with four different franchises for the fourth time, having won with the Yankees (1994), Rangers (2004) and Orioles (2014).

Roberts, who won the award in 2016, led the Dodgers to a franchise-record 111 wins. It’s a level of victory that’s expected at Chavez Ravine with Roberts at the helm. Over the past six seasons, the Dodgers have averaged 105 wins in 162 games played and made the playoffs in all seven seasons Roberts was in the dugout.

Snitker won the award in 2018, finishing in the top four in voting for five consecutive seasons.

The finalists for baseball’s most prestigious postseason honors reflect the top three voters for each category and were selected by BBWAA members from all 30 baseball markets.

The winners of this year’s BBWAA awards will be announced next week in a series of nightly announcements, beginning with Jackie Robinson Rookies of the Year winners on November 14, followed by Managers of the Year and the Cy Young winners. This year’s MVPs will be announced on November 17th.

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34974807/judge-ohtani-alvarez-finalists-american-league-mvp Judge, Ohtani, Alvarez finalists for American League MVP

Emma Bowman

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