MVP Rankings: Sizing up the races at season's midway point
Welcome to the third edition of theScore's 2022 Most Valuable Player rankings, where we pick the top players from each league. Let's look at who's building their case as the season approaches the All-Star break.
5. Rafael Devers, Red Sox
Devers leads the AL in WAR and has become one of the most difficult hitters in baseball to pitch to. He sits second in the Junior Circuit in batting average and is on pace to shatter his personal best for wRC+. Devers was key to Boston's impressive 20-6 record in June, posting a .979 OPS with 12 extra-base hits.
4. Yordan Alvarez, Astros
Alvarez is authoring a transcendent offensive season so far in 2022. The slugger has cut his strikeout rate to 16.7%, which is a career best. The Astros rewarded the 24-year-old in June with the second-largest contract in club history. Alvarez appears poised to shatter personal highs for home runs, RBIs, and FanGraphs' WAR.
3. Jose Ramirez, Guardians
Ramirez is a three-time MVP finalist and is well on his way to adding a fourth to his resume. The switch-hitting star is pacing the Junior Circuit in RBIs. His all-around brilliance has helped the Guardians outperform expectations to sit second in the American League Central behind the Twins. Ramirez is one of the toughest outs around; the 29-year-old walks more than he strikes out and ranks third in contact rate.
2. Shohei Ohtani, Angels
Ohtani is somehow maintaining his surreal pace after last year's brilliant MVP season. The 27-year-old could finish with a second consecutive 40-plus home run campaign, and it looks like he's reached another level on the mound. Ohtani has improved his K/9 and BB/9 while shaving a half run off his ERA. The Angels' inability to take a step forward as a team despite boasting a pair of transcendent talents continues to be one of baseball's most confounding subplots.
1. Aaron Judge, Yankees
Judge and New York appear to be a perfect match as the hulking outfielder seems to relish playing in the pressure-cooking environment. The pending free agent leads MLB in home runs and is a big reason why the Yankees have raced out to baseball's best record. He's also shown a flair for the dramatic with three walk-off hits this year, including a pair in a potential ALCS preview against the Astros. It's hard to envision Judge playing anywhere else, but all it takes is one determined owner to make things complicated for the Yankees this offseason.
5. Dansby Swanson, Braves
After a difficult start to the season, Swanson has morphed into one of the league's better hitters since the beginning of May. The impending free agent crushed 12 homers and has 36 RBIs over the past two months and is positioned to cash in with a massive contract this offseason. It's difficult to imagine that the Braves will allow another star to depart after the Freddie Freeman fiasco.
4. Mookie Betts, Dodgers
Despite missing time with a rib injury, Betts still sits comfortably inside the top 10 in the National League in WAR and is quickly threatening to be in the top five after just returning. Although the headlines of late have focused on Freeman's free agency, the Dodgers are still pacing the division and have taken their usual spot as legitimate World Series contenders. For as good as Betts has been, he historically finds another gear as the postseason inches closer (.950 career OPS in August, .894 in September/October).
3. Pete Alonso, Mets
The Mets have seen their large lead over the Braves shrink in the NL East, but Alonso continues to do his part to lead the lineup. The "Polar Bear" is pacing the Senior Circuit in RBIs while sitting second in home runs. The slugger is in the midst of a career season in batting average and on-base percentage and has been a model of consistency, appearing in 78 of New York's 79 games so far.
2. Manny Machado, Padres
Machado recently returned after missing over a week with an ankle injury and still leads the NL in FanGraphs' WAR. The Padres have been humbled a bit after a series with the Dodgers, and it's clear that until Fernando Tatis Jr. returns from injury, Machado will need to carry the load to keep the Friars afloat.
1. Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals
Goldschmidt has been one of baseball's most consistent offensive players for a decade. The 34-year-old has never posted an OPS under .800 and is authoring a career-best campaign in his 12th season. Goldschmidt leads the NL by a wide margin in batting average and wRC+ while ranking inside the top five in homers, runs, and RBIs. He owns a pair of MVP runner-up finishes, but this could finally be the season where Goldschmidt breaks through and adds that elusive piece of hardware to his mantle.