It’s “Play ball!” again for Major League Baseball (MLB)!
This is after a shaky and slightly confusing opening schedule due to a delay caused by a lockout of players.

The 99-day lockout was called in early December 2021, following the end of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between team owners and MLB players, with no new deal defining their rules of employment and financial engagement.   

Thankfully, everything has been ironed out, with league officials and players happily signing a fresh five-year CBA with both parties agreeing to resume throwing balls, swinging bats, stealing bases, scoring runs, and enjoying the applause of fans beginning April 7, not March 30 as originally planned.

After the grim possibility of an indefinite lockout and a field of no dreams, baseball fans are back to asking what games to watch and who among the players to follow. Everyone’s expectations are high, and the Thai sportsbook VWin wrote a review on the 15 best players of the 2022 MLB season.

Triple Crown

 The answers to these questions have always been traditionally defined in terms of batting averages, RBIs, and home runs. A player who tops these three stats is honored with the title “Triple Crown Winner.” 

Unfortunately, Triple Crown winners are rare gems – hard to find and even harder to emulate.  

They are personified by legends like Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers, 2012), Carl Yastrzemski (Boston Red Sox, 1967), Frank Robinson (Baltimore Orioles, 1966), Mickey Mantle (New York Yankees, 1956), and Ted Williams (Boston Red Sox, 1942 and 1947).

Since Cabrera’s Triple Crown achievement in 2012, no one has come close to striking the same bar, which, in a sense, is more difficult than making a grand slam, or hitting a home run with all bases loaded, thereby scoring four runs in one hit.

But this is certainly not to say that MLB’s current crop of players lacks talents. 

Atlanta Braves: World Series Defending Champion

Last season, Atlanta Brave Adam Duvali achieved a rare grand slam in the first inning of Game 5 of the World Series championship before an ecstatic home crowd at Truist Park in Atlanta. That was a sight to behold, an edge-of-the-seat spectacle, especially because such a feat could have earned the Braves a World Series crown right there and then.

His teammate Freddie Freeman scored another run in the same inning to tow Atlanta a doorstep closer to the World Series with a 5-0 lead, drawing a thunderous roar from excited fans. But the Houston Astros managed to crawl back to life with a pulsating 9-5 reversal to extend the series, 3-2.  Leading the onslaught for the Astros were shortstop Carlos Correa, now with the Twins, and first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who scored crucial come-from-behind runs.

The Astros’ euphoric celebration was short-lived, however.  The Braves recovered in Game 6 to win the World Series, 4-2, despite the Astros’ home advantage.   Outfielder Jorge Soler outshone teammates Duvali and Freeman by winning the World Series MVP with a batting average of .300 and scoring 3 game-clinching home runs. 

Duvali, Freeman, and Soler are among the players to watch this season as the Braves embark on a difficult mission to retain their title against a slew of title contenders and challengers from MLB’s step-ladder run from division championship to the World Series.

Braves fans could also add Ronald Acuna Jr., who missed the second half of last season with a knee injury.  The five-tool player will be back in Braves’ jersey in May to resume where he left off as an MVP material.

More MVP Material

Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Certainly, there’re players who’ll be going after the Triple Crown to help their respective teams win games to reach the World Series.  One of them is Japanese national Shohei Ohtani, a phenomenal pitcher, designated hitter, and outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels in the MLB.

He’s MVP material.  With him as a pitcher or hitter, anything is possible.  He could pitch 100-mph fastballs and could also smash it to a 450-foot range for a homerun.    

His American fans christened him “showtime” for his captivating field presence and amazing baseball prowess.  He is compared to the legendary Babe Ruth, although realistically speaking, it would probably take more years for Ohtani, 27, to match Ruth’s prodigious baseball stats and achievements, if at all.

There are many others on the list, but space constraints limit us to just the following other names:

  • Juan Soto, RF, Washington Nationals
  • Bryce Harper, RF, Philadelphia Phillies
  • Byron Buxton, CF, Minnesota Twins
  • Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels
  • Mookie Betts, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Guardians
  • Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Ray Bays
  • Gerrit Cole, SP, New York Yankees
  • Carlos Correa, SS, Minnesota Twins
  • Corbin Burnes, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

Featured Image: Steph Chambers/Getty Images
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