Toughest choices on 2022 All-MLB ballot

Voting for the 2022 All-MLB Team is underway, and you can help decide which players will be honored as the best of the regular season at each position, with 50% of the vote coming from fans and 50% coming from a panel of experts .

You can vote once every 24 hours between now and when voting ends on Nov. 10 p.m. at 5 p.m. ET. The 2022 All-MLB Team will be announced from the Winter Meetings in San Diego on Dec. 5 on MLB Network. There will be a first team and second team All-MLB, and voters are asked only to consider performance during the regular season when casting their ballots.

Even being on the ballot is an accomplishment, with the options at each position representing the best of the best. From this elite group, fans are tasked with selecting one player each at first base, second base, shortstop, third base, catcher and designated hitter, two relievers, three outfielders and five starting pitchers.

These choices aren’t easy – there are so many deserving and stellar candidates. Here’s a look at the five toughest positions to parse on the All-MLB ballot.

Making this selection is almost like being a general manager this offseason for a team that needs a shortstop. Each of the four marquee free agents at the position – Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson and Trea Turner – is on the ballot. Bogaerts led the group with a .307 average, and he and Correa tied to lead these stellar shortstops in OPS at .833. Swanson led all shortstops with +21 Outs Above Average. And Turner was once again a speed king, with an MLB-leading 131 bolts, which are competitive runs at elite, 30+ ft/sec Sprint Speed.

Of course, it isn’t just free agents, there’s also Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Bo Bichette and Willy Adames among veterans, plus rookies Jeremy Peña and Bobby Witt Jr.

Don’t let the fact that you get three outfield selections deceive you – that doesn’t make choosing any easier. MVP and AL home run king Aaron Judge probably has to be there no matter how you slice it, and all of a sudden, there are 19 players for just two spots. There’s Mookie Betts, whose 35 homers out of the leadoff spot were the most in a season in Dodgers history and Kyle Schwarber, who crushed 46, including 38 out of the leadoff spot – tied for third-most in MLB history. We have both Rookie of the Year winners, in Michael Harris II and Julio Rodríguez, the second time the two winners have been center fielders. The other time was 2012, with Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.

Speaking of Trout, he’s on this part of the ballot, too, after becoming just the fourth player to hit at least 40 homers in a season when he played fewer than 120 games. We also have Teoscar Hernández and his 98th-percentile hard-hit rate, plus Rookie of the Year finalist Steven Kwan’s bat-to-ball skills. Daulton Varsho tied for the most OAA in the outfield in ’22, in a year where he also played 175 innings behind the plate. There’s also Byron Buxton, Adolis García, Starling Marte, Brandon Nimmo, Hunter Renfroe, Bryan Reynolds, Anthony Santander, Juan Soto, George Springer, Kyle Tucker and Taylor Ward. Good luck.

This is another spot where getting multiple selections – five, in this case – might lull you into thinking it’ll be easy. But two of those spots, as with Judge in the outfield, likely go to Cy Young Award winners Sandy Alcantara and Justin Verlander. Now, we have 21 pitchers for three spots. That isn’t even enough for the four other Cy finalists, in Dylan Cease, Max Fried, Alek Manoah and Julio Urías. Gerrit Cole set a Yankees’ single-season strikeout record, Yu Darvish posted the second-best September of his career amid the Padres’ postseason push. Remember Zac Gallen’s 44 ⅓ inning scoreless streak? It was the seventh-longest in a single season in the live-ball era (since 1920).

Speaking of streaks, there were Framber Valdez’s 25 straight quality starts, the longest single-season streak since earned runs became official. And we have to talk about Shohei Ohtani, who said on the MVP Awards show that this year was his best pitching year. He was 90th percentile or better in whiff rate, strikeout rate and expected ERA, based on the quality of contact he allowed. There’s also Tyler Anderson, Shane Bieber, Corbin Burnes, Nestor Cortes, Tony Gonsolin, Cristian Javier, Shane McClanahan, Aaron Nola, Carlos Rodón, Max Scherzer, Spencer Strider and Kyle Wright.

22 relievers, two spots. Ready, set, go. Do you want a traditional closer, like Emmanuel Clase (42 saves), Kenley Jansen (41 saves), Liam Hendriks (37 saves), Jordan Romano (36 saves), Daniel Bard (34 saves), Ryan Pressly (33 saves), Edwin Díaz (32 saves) or Camilo Doval (27 saves)? Do you give bonus points for closer entrance, or for trumpets? There are also those relievers who played multiple roles throughout the year in part due to a closer being traded away, like Félix Bautista and Devin Williams.

There are key relievers who throw hard in various innings, like Andrés Muñoz with his 100.2 mph average four-seamer and Ryan Helsley’s at 99.6 mph. Lest we forget, there’s John Duran averaging 100.8 mph on his four-seam offerings. There’s also Scott Barlow, Brock Burke, Alexis Díaz, Clay Holmes, AJ Minter, Cionel Perez, Evan Phillips, David Robertson and Erik Swanson.

Seven players played at least 50% of their games at third base in 2022 and hit more than 25 homers, and they’re all on this ballot. That’s Austin Riley (38 HR), Manny Machado (32 HR), Eugenio Suarez (31 HR), Nolan Arenado (30 HR), José Ramírez (29 HR), Matt Chapman (27 HR) and Rafael Devers (27 HR). Brandon Drury hit 28, too, but fell short of that 50% of games at third due to being traded to Machado’s Padres, and therefore playing primarily first base and DHing. The lone sub-25 homer-hitter on the ballot at third is Alex Bregman, who still hit 23 of his own. And it isn’t just about power, of course. Arenado was second at the hot corner in OAA, while Machado tied for third and Bregman was fifth.

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