Judge, Goldy, JV lead Players Choice Award winners

Ask most MLB players and they’ll tell you: It’s immensely important to them what their peers — both teammates and opponents — think of their performance on the field. So when the MLB Players Association reveals the Players Choice Awards each year, it’s a major moment.

During the 2022 regular season there were incredible feats achieved — prestigious records broken and milestones passed, even — leaving us in awe. But what did the players think?

As revealed Friday on ESPN, here are the results.

Player of the Year and Outstanding American League Player
Aaron Judge, Yankees
Last year’s winner of this honor, Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, was once again spectacular with what he did both at the plate and on the mound. It would take a monumental performance to prevent Ohtani from back-to-back Player of the Year Awards. But that’s exactly what Judge gave us, eclipsing Roger Maris’ mark of 61 home runs in 1961, setting an AL record with 62. Judge led the Majors with 131 RBIs, 133 runs scored, a .425 on-base percentage, a .686 slugging percentage and an AL-leading 111 walks. His 391 total bases were the most in a single season for the AL since Alex Rodriguez’s 393 with the Rangers in 2001.

Aaron Judge’s 62nd homer of 2022
Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award
Francisco Lindor, Mets
Lindor bounced back from a subpar season at the plate in 2021, posting a 125 OPS+ with 26 home runs, 107 RBIs and 16 steals for the Mets in ’22. But there’s much more to Lindor than his abilities on the baseball field — he has long been involved in charitable endeavors in his community, both in the U.S. and his native Puerto Rico, where he has traveled to help in recovery efforts following natural disasters and has committed financial assistance, including $50,000 after Hurricane Fiona hit the Caribbean island in September. Lindor also serves as an alternate association player representative for the Mets in the MLBPA.

The Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award is presented each year to the player “whose leadership most inspires others to higher levels of achievement.” It is named in honor of the MLBPA’s first full-time executive director, who from 1966-82 was instrumental in the process of establishing and implementing free agency and making the MLBPA one of the most cohesive labor unions in the country.

Curt Flood Award
Steve Rogers
Rogers, a five-time All-Star right-hander who pitched for the Expos from 1973-85, has been a tireless advocate for players’ rights for almost 50 years as a player and an MLBPA executive. He is the winner of the 2022 Curt Flood Award, which is presented to “a former player, living or deceased, who in the image of Flood demonstrates a selfless, longtime devotion to the Players Association and advancement of players’ rights.”

Flood undertook a historic judicial challenge to baseball’s reserve system in the 1970s, one that led to the establishment of free agency. Rogers was chosen as this year’s Curt Flood Award winner by a nominating committee comprised of seven former and current MLBPA executives.

National League Outstanding Player
Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals
Goldschmidt had a career year in 2022, and that’s saying a lot considering he finished among the top three in NL MVP Award voting three times. The slugging first baseman led the NL in slugging percentage (.578), OPS (.981) and OPS+ (180) while smashing 35 homers and driving in 115 runs for St. Louis. He was voted an All-Star for the seventh time and after winning four Gold Glove Awards at first base, he was again a finalist for that award this year.

Paul Goldschmidt’s walk-off winner
Sep 17, 2022 · 0:37
Paul Goldschmidt’s walk-off winner

NL Outstanding Pitcher
Sandy Alcantara, Marlins
Alcantara had a breakout season that many within and around the Marlins organization knew could be coming, but the right-hander’s 2.28 ERA over a Major League-leading 228 2/3 innings and six complete games this year have opened the wider baseball world’s eyes to his tremendous ability. With his 207 strikeouts in 2022, Alcantara has eclipsed the 200-inning and 200-strikeout thresholds in consecutive seasons. The 27-year-old is a candidate to win his first career Cy Young Award.

Sandy Alcantara on pitching feats
Oct 1, 2022 · 7:20
Sandy Alcantara on pitching feats
NL Outstanding Rookie
Spencer Strider, Braves
Strider had one of the most dominant rookie campaigns by a pitcher in recent memory. The hard-throwing right-hander finished the regular season with a 2.67 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 131 2/3 innings over which he struck out an incredible 38 percent of the batters he faced. His 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings set a rookie record, surpassing Kerry Wood’s 12.6 for the Cubs in 1998.

Strider K’s Harper swinging
Oct 14, 2022 · 0:29
Strider K’s Harper swinging
NL Comeback Player
Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves
Acuña recovered from a torn right ACL he suffered just prior to last year’s All-Star Game more quickly than anybody expected, returning to action for Atlanta in late April and proceeding to belt 15 homers and steal 29 bases in 119 games.

Ronald Acuña Jr.’s two-homer game
Sep 27, 2022 · 1:01
Ronald Acuña Jr.’s two-homer game
AL Outstanding pitcher and Comeback Player
Justin Verlander, Astros
After missing the entire 2021 campaign due to Tommy John surgery, and even though he was in his age-39 season, Verlander continued to defy time with another outstanding performance for the Astros. The right-hander led the Majors with a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, and also led the AL with a .186 opponents’ batting average and .497 opponents’ OPS. Verlander’s ERA was the lowest for a qualifying AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez’s 1.74 with the Red Sox in 2000.

Justin Verlander strikes out six
AL Outstanding Rookie
Julio Rodríguez, Mariners
The man they call “J-Rod” had a rookie season for the ages, becoming the fastest player to reach 25 homers and 25 steals in his MLB career. He also led all MLB rookies in homers (28), total bases (260), slugging (.509) and OPS (853). But that wasn’t all. He treated us to a thrilling Home Run Derby performance, signed a massive contract extension with Seattle and helped lead the Mariners to their first postseason berth since the 21-year-old was about nine months old.