2022 MLB Awards: Top 5 American League MVP Award Candidates – Sports Illustrated

With Major League Baseball award season coming up, here’s a look at our top five American League Most Valuable Player candidates for the 2022 MLB season. Cleveland Guardians’ Andres Gimenez and Jose Ramirez, New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Shohei Ohtani, and Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez all put together remarkable seasons. But who will be named AL MVP?
Over the past few weeks, we've taken a look at our top five American League and National League Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year candidates for the 2022 Major League Baseball season.
We also have showcased our top five American League Cy Young candidates and top five National League Cy Young candidates.
As part of our 2022 Major League Baseball award selections, here are my top five American League MVP candidates:
5) Andres Gimenez, second baseman, Cleveland Guardians
146 games, .297/.371/.837/, 17 home runs, 69 RBI, 20 stolen bases, 141 OPS+, 17 Defensive Runs Saved, 7.2 Wins Above Replacement
Gimenez is just beginning to make a name for himself, so his name showing up on this list may come as a surprise to some. The Guardians acquired the second baseman from the New York Mets as part of the Francisco Lindor trade, before the 2021 Major League Baseball season.
Gimenez did everything in 2022. He hit for contact (.297 batting average — 10th in the American League), he hit for power (17 home runs, .837 OPS — 9th in the AL), he got on base (.371 OBP — 11th in the AL), he stole bases (20 — 12th in the AL) and he played Gold Glove-caliber defense (17 DRS — 2nd in the AL). Gimenez trailed only Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Judge in WAR.
Gimenez might be the most underrated player in baseball.
4) Jose Ramirez, third baseman, Cleveland Guardians
157 games, .280/.355/.869, 29 home runs, 126 RBI, 20 stolen bases, 148 OPS+, 2 DRS, 6.0 WAR
After receiving a five-year extension to stay in Cleveland through 2028 before the start of the season, Jose Ramirez put together another fantastic season in 2022.
Ramirez trailed only Aaron Judge in RBI, and like his teammate Andres Gimenez, he did a little bit of everything, hitting for contact and power, stealing bases, and playing solid infield defense.
3) Yordan Alvarez, left fielder and designated hitter, Houston Astros
135 games, .306/.406/1.019, 37 home runs, 97 RBI, 1 stolen base, 187 OPS+, 5 DRS, 6.8 WAR
Yordan Alvarez was the best offensive player on the best team in the American League. He has a worthy case for the Most Valuable Player award, but unfortunately for him, there were a pair of players that put together even greater seasons than he did. The 25-year-old won't win MVP this fall, but he will have his chances to do so in the near future.
2) Shohei Ohtani, starting pitcher and designated hitter, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
28 starts, 166 IP, record, 2.33 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 172 ERA+, 4.98 SO/W
157 games, .273/.356/.875, 34 home runs, 95 RBI, 11 stolen bases, 145 OPS+, 1 DRS, 9.6 WAR
Believe it or not, but the reigning American League MVP actually had a better season in 2022 than he did in 2021!
Ohtani put together his best season on the mound yet. He was a top five pitcher in the American League.
In 2022, he pitched 35.2 more innings, had an ERA nearly a run lower (2.33 to last year's 3.18), a lower WHIP (1.01 to last year's 1.09) and a better ERA+ (172 to 141) than he did a season ago.
Offensively, Ohtani was great once again. He may not have posted the same type of power numbers that he did in 2021, but he did hit for a higher batting average (16 points better than 2021).
The combination of Ohtani's prowess on the mound and in the batter's box is unlike anything we've ever seen before. In any other season, he would probably win another MVP for his efforts in 2022.
1) Aaron Judge, outfielder, New York Yankees
157 games, .311/.425/1.111, 62 home runs, 131 RBI, 16 stolen bases, 211 OPS+, 3 DRS, 10.6 WAR
In 2022, Aaron Judge may have put together the greatest offensive season in baseball history.
The Yankees slugger set a new single-season American League home run record and nearly won the Triple Crown.
Part of what makes Judge's 62 home runs so impressive is that he set a new home run record in a season where the league-wide number of home runs collectively dropped. He also nearly won a batting title, while hitting for power.
Batting averages and hitting numbers have also collectively dropped league-wide over the past two decades. A .316 batting average won the American League batting title in 2022.
In 2002, Manny Ramirez won the batting title, hitting .349. Pitching has become even more dominant since, which makes Judge's offensive output all the more impressive, when looked at in its proper context.
More of our MLB Awards Selections:
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Jack Vita is a baseball writer for Fastball on Sports Illustrated/FanNation, and host of the Jack Vita Show, a popular sports podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube and wherever podcasts are found. Jack is a graduate of Valparaiso University. You can follow him on Twitter @JackVitaShow.


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