4:24 AM UTC
Most of your big trophies handed out in the offseason are, by definition, individual trophies: MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, even Manager of the Year. But if you ever go visit a team museum, you’ll see plenty of those trophies on display. When the player wins an award, in a way, the team does too.
With that in mind, let’s look at each team’s best candidate to take home one of those trophies this offseason. Some of these guys are favorites, some may just get some down-ballot love. It means something when one of your team’s guys ends up on a finalist list for a trophy. It’s something that they, and their team, will have forever.
All ‘key stats’ are entering Wednesday’s games.
Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C, Rookie of the YearKey stat: 3.6 WAR, per FanGraphs, leads all MLB rookiesHe came up a little later than some might have liked, and he got off to a little bit of a slow start. But that seems like ages ago. Rutschman has become one of the most exciting players in baseball to watch and the clear team leader of one of the best stories in baseball.
Rays: Shane McClanahan, LHP, Cy YoungKey stat: 32.2% strikeout rate leads all qualified startersHe was the clubhouse leader for most of the year before ceding some ground of late. But with the Rays chasing down an American League Wild Card berth, he’ll have plenty of opportunities for a finishing kick.
Red Sox: Rafael Devers, 3B, MVPKey stat: 96 hard-hit base hits are third-most in MLBIf the Red Sox hadn’t faltered so much over the past couple of months, Devers might be able to make a better case for himself.
Yankees: Aaron Judge, OF, MVPKey stat: 48 home runs are 14 more than anyone else in MLB this seasonThe home runs have fallen off a bit as of late, but he’s still putting together a historic season. If the Yankees win the AL East and he gets to 60, this may be a no-brainer.
Guardians: Jos? Ram?rez, 3B, MVPKey stat: 37 doubles lead the ALHe finished second in 2020 and sixth last year. It sure looks like he’s going to finish third again, just like he did in 2017 and 2018. But if Judge or Shohei Ohtani fall off, he’s the next best candidate to break through.
Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Rookie of the YearKey stat: 24 stolen bases lead all rookiesIt might be too tough to catch up with the guys ahead of him, but Witt has given hope for the future of this Royals franchise, and something to watch every day in the present.
Tigers: Riley Greene, OF, Rookie of the YearKey stat: 448-foot home run Sunday was Tigers’ longest leadoff HR since 2015There is no obvious candidate here, and Greene isn’t going to win ROY. But he’s at least held his own and looks like a possible cornerstone.
Twins: Rocco Baldelli, Manager of the YearKey stat: Twins began season with 40.4% chance to make playoffs, per FanGraphsThere are many reasons the Twins have made such dramatic improvements from last year, and while Baldelli is just one of them, it can be difficult to ignore a manager who gets his team from worst to first.
White Sox: Dylan Cease, RHP, Cy YoungKey stat: -31 run value on slider is the most valuable pitch in MLBHe wasn’t considered a major candidate for much of the year, but he has come on like gangbusters in the second half. He has a legitimate chance to chase down Justin Verlander at this point and maybe hold off all challengers.
Angels: Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, MVPKey stat: 98th percentile in barrel rate as hitter and 96th percentile in strikeout rate as pitcherJudge has the clubhouse lead at this point, and Ohtani missing some time never helps, but while he’s not quite the hitter he was last year, he’s a better pitcher. And there remains no one at all like him.
Astros: Justin Verlander, RHP, Cy YoungKey stat: leads qualified starters in WHIP (0.85), ERA (1.87) and ERA+ (206)He might not be winning in all the peripheral stats, but his incredible season, after his extensive injury woes, is going to win him every sentimental vote. And he deserves each of them.
Athletics: A.J. Puk, LHP, Rookie of the YearKey stat: 85.4 mph average exit velocity allowed is top-15 in MLBYeah, I can’t believe he still counts as a rookie either, but he does.
Mariners: Julio Rodr?guez , CF, Rookie of the YearKey stat: 19 home runs lead all rookiesThere was obviously something quite different about Rodr?guez the second he arrived in Seattle. It would be truly incredible if he wins Rookie of the Year the very year the Mariners finally end their playoff drought.
Rangers: Mart?n P?rez, LHP, Cy YoungKey stat: 615 batters faced are most in ALP?rez’s resurgence — the ultimate prodigal son success story for the Rangers — has been the biggest pleasant surprise on this roster in 2022. He may well end up in the top five of voting.
Braves: Spencer Strider, RHP, Rookie of the YearKey stat: 151 strikeouts lead all rookie pitchersStrider has already thrown more innings than he has at any point in his career, so you wonder if the Braves will give him some breaks down the stretch. But he’s been brilliant so far. You could also go with Michael Harris II here, and he might end up winning.
Marlins: Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Cy YoungKey stat: leads MLB in innings pitched with 176 2/3He finally had a bad start last week, though he was facing the Dodgers, so you can cut him a break. He’s an innings-eating, old-school ace that any team in baseball would want.
Mets: Buck Showalter, Manager of the YearKey stat: 79-46 record is second-best in NL, third in MLBThere are so many Mets having breakthrough years — the fun of this Mets team is just how many contributors there are — but it has been Showalter’s quiet professionalism that has turned the Mets into potential division champions.
Nationals: Joey Meneses, 1B, Rookie of the YearKey stat: Five homers in first nine career games, tied for second-most in first nine games in AL/NL historyOK, he’s not going to win, but there is not an obvious name here now that MVP candidate Juan Soto has been traded to San Diego. Meneses has been one of baseball’s best feel-good stories this year, a Minor League lifer who is raking as a 30-year-old rookie.
Phillies: Aaron Nola, RHP, Cy YoungKey stat: 3.6% walk rate is second among qualified startersHe has thrown the second-most innings in baseball, been a linchpin for this Phillies staff and has an MLB-high 7.91 K/BB rate, the highest by a qualifying pitcher since Max Scherzer’s 8.12 in 2015 (if you don’t count 2020).
Brewers: Corbin Burnes, RHP, Cy YoungKey stat: 35.0% whiff rate leads all qualified startersLike Alcantara, Burnes also got hit hard against the Dodgers recently, but if he continues to pitch like he was against non-Dodger lineups, he might come from behind and win his second consecutive Cy Young. The Brewers may need him to do so even more than they did last year.
Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, MVPKey stat: leads MLB in batting average (.335) and on-base percentage (.417)It might be a 1-2 race between him and teammate Nolan Arenado at this point. The two former NL West rivals have never won one before: Someone may just break through.
Cubs: Christopher Morel, CF, Rookie of the YearKey stat: one of four players in the 85th percentile or better in barrel rate and sprint speedMorel hasn’t necessarily been considered one of the Cubs’ top-shelf prospects, but he has been terrific this season, a jolt of energy for a team (and a franchise) that could use it.
Pirates: Oneil Cruz, SS, Rookie of the YearKey stat: 122.4 mph single Wednesday was hardest-hit batted ball tracked by Statcast (since 2015)Cruz hasn’t had the stats you’d like for a Rookie of the Year candidate, but the physical skills he has put on display have been impossible to ignore.
Reds: David Bell, Manager of the YearKey stat: 45-51 after 3-22 startRemember when the Reds looked like they might lose 120 games? They certainly aren’t going to finish the year anything close to a winning record, but they’re not going to finish in last, and they might even finish in third. It can’t be easy to get a team back on track after that start.
D-backs: Merrill Kelly, RHP, Cy YoungKey stat: 2.87 ERA after 4.44 mark last year is the best year-to-year improvement from 2021-22The D-backs are a little better than you think they are, and on nights Kelly is on the mound, they’re a tough matchup for anyone.
Dodgers: Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Cy YoungKey stat: 2.10 ERA leads qualified NL startersThere are so many Dodgers doing so many great things that it feels almost churlish to pick just one. For example, both Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman will get MVP votes, and Tyler Anderson might get some Cy Young votes. The irony is that none of them — not even Gonsolin, whose win-loss record would have cinched this for him a couple of decades ago — are likely to win, or really come all that close.
Giants: Carlos Rod?n, LHP, Cy YoungKey stat: 189 strikeouts are tied for second-most in MLBThe Giants have taken a big step back from last year, but you can’t blame Rod?n, who leads all NL pitchers in FanGraphs WAR.
Padres: Manny Machado, 3B, MVPKey stat: .396 batting average on non-fastballs leads qualified hittersMachado hasn’t quite been the same since his injury, but he’s still the leader of this team, one carrying an extra burden now without Fernando Tatis Jr. to support him. (Though Soto doesn’t hurt.)
Rockies: Daniel Bard, RHP, Cy YoungKey stat: 98.1 mph sinker velocity is in 97th percentileThere’s no clear answer here either, but if you’re looking for a down-ballot vote for a closer who isn’t Edwin D?az, Bard is probably your best bet.