The first weekend of the 2022 MLB postseason is in the books. The new best-of-three Wild Card Series round is complete and it yielded one winner-take-all Game 3, one series-clinching walk-off homer, and one of the largest postseason comebacks in baseball history. That and four winners who now advance to the Division Series..
MLB currently gives out Most Valuable Player awards for the World Series and each Championship Series, and that's it. There's no Division Series MVP and there's no Wild Card Series MVP either. I've long believed MLB should have one big Postseason MVP that covers every round, but until then, it's just the World Series MVP and two Championship Series MVPs.
Just because MLB doesn't have a Wild Card Series MVP doesn't mean we can't unofficially them out, of course. Here's who would get our vote for the four Wild Card Series MVP awards if such a thing existed.
This series was a very low-scoring event. The two teams played 24 innings and four total runs were scored on three homers. I could cop out and give MVP to the entire Guardians bullpen, which chucked 10 1/3 scoreless innings in the two games, but that's kinda lame.(he was also the only hitter in the series with as many as three hits) and that's usually a recipe for an MVP. I'm going Ramírez instead. He hit the game-winning two-run homer in Game 1, then made a brilliant defensive play to save a run in Game 2. His all-around impact was greater than Gonzalez's.
The Guardians and Rays were evenly matched as two teams with high-end pitching and average-ish offenses. In the end, the difference in the Wild Card Series was Tampa having a bunch of good players in their lineup, but no star. Cleveland has a legitimate superstar and he swung the series in their favor.
This is the toughest call among the four series. Seranthony Domínguez got the two biggest outs of the series when he struck out Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado with two on in the eighth inning of Game 2. Bryce Harper went deep. Alec Bohm was the best player on the field, going 2 for 5 with two doubles, two walks, zero strikeouts, and a handful of great defensive plays. Bohm and Arenado seemed to have a Freaky Friday body-switch thing going on..
In the end, I'm going with Nola and Wheeler as co-MVPs similar to Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in the 2001 World Series with the Diamondbacks. Wheeler allowed two hits and a walk in 6 1/3 shutout innings in Game 1, then Nola followed with 6 2/3 shutout innings in Game 2. They struck out 10 combined and threw 13 of Philadelphia's 18 innings against the Cardinals.
Co-MVPs is the easy way out, I admit that, but I think Wheeler and Nola impacted their team positively more than any other player(s) in the series, and they were equally great. I mean, they each took the ball into the seventh inning and put up zero after zero. Tough to be much better than that. I wouldn't want to make a habit of naming co-MVPs. For this series, I think it's warranted.
A strong case can be made for Trent Grisham, who reached base eight times in 12 plate appearances and hit home runs against Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. We needn't overthink this though. Musgrove shoved in the winner-take-all Game 3, holding the Mets to one single and one walk in seven otherwise spotless innings. . The Hail Mary didn't work.
Musgrove is the first pitcher in baseball history to go at least seven innings with no more than two hits allowed in a winner-take-all postseason game. As such, the Padres became the first team ever to throw a one-hitter in a postseason elimination game. Grisham was great, Yu Darvish was great, and Jurickson Profar was a pain in the behind all series too. In the end, when you throw a game like Musgrove did with your season on the line, you're my series MVP.
The man affectionately known as Big Dumper sent the Mariners to the postseason for the first time in a generation with a walk-off homer on Sept. 30. He then set the tone for the Wild Card Series with a stunning two-run home run against Blue Jays ace Alek Manoah in the first inning of Game 1. Raleigh also had three hits and drove in a run in the Game 2 comeback. He went 4 for 8 with a double, a homer, and a walk in the series. Seattle, this man should never pay for another drink in your city.
The Mariners had no shortage of viable MVP candidates in the Wild Card Series. Luis Castillo was masterful with 7 1/3 shutout innings in Game 1. Adam Frazier had four hits in the series and doubled in what proved to be the series-winning run in the eighth inning of Game 2. Carlos Santana had the momentum-changing three-run homer earlier in the game. When you erase an 8-1 deficit in the span of four innings, yeah, it took a total team effort.