You may not have heard of these awards, but trust me when I tell you they're the ones that really matter.
Yeah, everyone talks about MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and the like. I have my thoughts on those, too, if you care to know:
But if you ask me, they don't go far enough in highlighting all the players who made the Fantasy Baseball season what it was.
Won't you join me in doing that now?
Aaron Judge CF
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #99 • Age: 30
By standard CBS scoring, no hitter was within even 100 points of Judge during his historic season. The gap between him and No. 2 (Jose Ramirez) was bigger than the gap between No. 2 and No. 23.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #35 • Age: 39
A 39-year-old coming off Tommy John surgery, Verlander was 29th pitcher selected on average, according to FantasyPros. He finished No. 1 among pitchers in 5x5 scoring.
Nate Lowe 1B
TEX Texas • #30 • Age: 27
A .264-hitting, 18-homer first baseman, as Lowe was in 2021, probably doesn't have a future as an everyday player, but what a difference a year makes. From June 1 on, he hit .317 with 24 homers and a .914 OPS.
Kyle Wright SP
ATL Atlanta • #30 • Age: 27
He was on nobody's draft board at the start of the year and ultimately became the majors' only 20-game winner, finally capitalizing on his latent prospect potential at age 26.
Reid Detmers SP
LAA L.A. Angels • #48 • Age: 23
He was as squishy as they come when the Angels sent him down in late June, sporting a 4.66 ERA, 6.8 K/9 and a 9 percent swinging-strike rate. He returned a couple weeks later with a revamped slider and had a 3.04 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 13 percent swinging-strike rate the rest of the way.
Pablo Lopez SP
MIN Minnesota • #49 • Age: 26
Lopez was single-handedly responsible for so many teams' reversal of fortune in the pitching categories. He had a 1.05 ERA through his first seven starts compared to a 4.60 ERA the rest of the way. A strong four-start stretch to end the season wasn't enough to redeem him.
ARI Arizona • #53 • Age: 31
The rightful choice is probably Aaron Judge just by virtue of him hitting 16 more home runs than anybody else, but so as not to have a repeat winner, I'll give it to Walker, a 31-year-old afterthought who more than doubled his combined home run total from 2020 and 2021.
Jon Berti 2B
MIA Miami • #5 • Age: 33
Berti makes for an obvious choice as the unexpected stolen base leader -- and in roughly 50 fewer games than the next five on the list. No telling if he plays even that much next year, though, given how poorly he rates as a hitter.
Eric Lauer SP
MIL Milwaukee • #52 • Age: 27
Hard as it may be to remember, Lauer had two double digit-strikeout games in April and a 14 percent swinging-strike rate in his first six starts. He had zero and a 9 percent swinging-strike rate thereafter.
Ty France 1B
SEA Seattle • #23 • Age: 28
France seemed like a runaway for the batting title when he hit .347 over the first two months. Only problem is he hit .237 over the next four.
Taylor Ward RF
LAA L.A. Angels • #3 • Age: 29
Ward hit .370 with a 1.194 OPS in his first 30 games and .205 with a .601 OPS over his next 69. Should have known better, shouldn't we? Well, then he hit .353 with a .976 OPS over his final 36 games, so who's the smart guy now?
ATL Atlanta • #50 • Age: 39
I don't know about you, but Charlie bit me. Over and over again, he bit me as I fixated on his whiff and spin rates, both of which remained stellar. Upon further inspection, it was the 28 homers, 10 more than his previous high, that did him in.
Zac Gallen SP
ARI Arizona • #23 • Age: 27
Gallen battled elbow troubles in 2021 to the tune of a 4-10 record, 4.30 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. He seemed to me like someone destined for Tommy John surgery, but apparently not.
SEA Seattle • #28 • Age: 31
A move from Cincinnati to Seattle seemed like the last thing Suarez needed after htiting a combined .199 the previous two seasons. Not like he contended for a batting title or anything, but .236 is certainly enough to make his power worthwhile again, particularly at a position as thin as third base.
TEX Texas • #2 • Age: 32
Tempting as it is to give the award to Blake Snell for a second straight year, it was Semien who most decisively turned things around, homering 25 times over the final four months after doing so just once in the first two. Cold weather may not suit him now than the humidor is in full use.
ATL Atlanta • #99 • Age: 24
The rookie became the league's must-see pitcher when he moved into the starting rotation during the summer, looking downright invincible when he was in command of the zone. He led the majors with 13.8 K/9, became the fastest ever to 200 strikeouts and set a franchise record with 16 strikeouts in a game.
Oneil Cruz SS
PIT Pittsburgh • #61 • Age: 24
The rookie struggled to keep the strikeouts under control but regularly tested the boundaries of what a hitter can do, including setting a record for hardest-hit ball at 122.4 mph. Between that and his 6-foot-7 frame, it's hard not to make Aaron Judge comparisons.
TB Tampa Bay • #56 • Age: 27
This year marked the second straight in which Arozarena outperformed his xBA by at least 30 points and his xSLG by at least 70, which probably means we can ignore them in his case.
Jose Abreu 1B
HOU Houston • #79 • Age: 35
Abreu hit half as many home runs as in 2021 -- a career-low 15, in fact -- even though his Statcast page was still lit up in red. Seeing as he's still 93rd percentile for average exit velocity and 92nd percentie for xSLG, I'd say that reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.
KC Kansas City • Age: 24
It may be that Kauffman Stadium was just a miserable place to hit in 2022. Massey mustered only four home runs in his 52 games as a rookie, but Statcast suggests that if he had played somewhere like Great American Ball Park instead, he would have hit 14.
CLE Cleveland • #47 • Age: 27
Try as I might, I'll never understand Quantrill, who once again excelled with a 3.38 ERA despite a 4.37 xERA, a 4.12 FIP and a 4.38 xFIP. He doesn't miss bats, he doesn't get ground balls, he doesn't yield weak contact. He is the weirdest of the weird.
Corey Seager SS
TEX Texas • #5 • Age: 28
Seager's .242 batting average against the shift was the fifth-lowest among the 45 hitters with at least 300 at-bats in that scenario. It might explain why his overall batting average (.245) lagged so much behind his xBA (.283). Perhaps you've heard that the shifts will be limited next year.
ARI Arizona • #31 • Age: 25
Though he got some looks early on, it wasn't until McCarthy returned to the majors in July that he established himself as a fixture in the Diamondbacks lineup, hitting .302 the rest of the way. His 19 steals in the final two months would have ranked 25th for the entire season.
KC Kansas City • #9 • Age: 25
Yeah, sorry about that, though I still say a guy with an average exit velocity (91.1 mph) akin to Freddie Freeman and a strikeout rate (11.6 percent) akin to Alex Bregman is destined for big things. You'll see.
MIA Miami • #22 • Age: 27
Honorable mention for Framber Valdez's streak of 25 straight quality starts, but when it comes to workload, Alcantara is in a class of his own. His six complete games were three more than any other pitcher, and he went *more than* seven innings in 16 of his 32 starts.
Joey Meneses 1B
WAS Washington • #45 • Age: 30
The well-traveled 30-year-old might still not have reached the majors if not for the Juan Soto trade. He's made himself an indispensible part of a rebuilding lineup.
Max Muncy 3B
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #13 • Age: 32
With apologies to Bo Bichette, who salvaged a disappointing season by hitting .406 with seven homers and four steals from Sept. 1 on, this award goes to Muncy, who once and for all proved the health of his elbow by hitting .247 with 12 homers and an .858 OPS over the final two months.
Nelson Cruz DH
SD San Diego • #23 • Age: 42
Year after year, for probably half a decade, we've all wondered if this would be the year Cruz's production falls off, making him a perennial bargain in drafts. Well, that year finally came, at age 42.