December 31st, 2022
Part of what makes baseball the best are the feats and amazing stats accruing left and right, every single day. We chronicle them throughout the year, but there’s no better time than before the calendar flips to take a look back.
It’s hard to pick just one per team, after a season that gave us so much fodder. No team or player can be summed up in one stat alone, but information can entertain and give us insight into the season that was, even if it doesn’t encapsulate the entire year in one fact. If you’re looking for more on your favorite teams or players, check out the 22 biggest stories of the ‘22 season and MLB milestones reached in 2022.
To wrap up the year and get everyone ready for 2023, here’s a look at one amazing stat for each of the 30 teams from this past season.
Blue Jays: Alek Manoah’s second MLB season was a breakout performance that included his first All-Star selection. At the Midsummer Classic in Los Angeles, Manoah notched three strikeouts – while mic’d up, saying, “three punchies! Let’s go!” His regular-season performance was captivating, too. In 196 2/3 innings, he had a 2.24 ERA. That is the second-lowest ERA in a qualified season in Blue Jays franchise history, trailing only Roger Clemens’ 2.05 in 1997, when he won his fourth Cy Young Award.
Orioles: A big reason for the Orioles’ 2022 improvement was rookie Adley Rutschman, who finished with 5.3 WAR, per FanGraphs, tied with Julio Rodríguez for most among all rookies – in just 113 games. Rutschman quickly established himself among the game’s top backstops, ranking in the 84th percentile in pitch framing and 79th percentile in pop time on stolen base attempts. His 128 OPS+ was tied for second-highest among all catchers, just behind J.T. Realmuto’s 129 (min. 400 plate appearances).
Rays: Shane McClanahan led the Rays’ staff in ‘22, posting a 2.54 ERA in 28 starts. He averaged 96.7 mph on his four-seamer, leading all lefty starters. In fact, there were five pitches clocked at 100.0+ mph this season by left-handed starting pitchers. McClanahan was responsible for all but one of them (Carlos Rodón threw the other). McClanahan threw 14 of the 17 fastest pitches by lefty starters this season.
Red Sox: Rafael Devers is only 26 years old, and he’s already putting himself into the Red Sox franchise record books. Devers started the All-Star Game at third base for the AL for the second straight season. He became the third Red Sox player to start multiple All-Star Games at third base, joining Wade Boggs (seven) and Frank Malzone (five). And he’s the only Boston third baseman to do so twice before turning 26. He finished the year with a 141 OPS+, the highest of any season of his career thus far.
Yankees: Aaron Judge’s 62-homer quest captivated the baseball world as the Yankees slugger set the AL single-season record. We were tracking a Triple Crown bid for a while with Judge, and even though he didn’t win the batting title, he did lead MLB in homers, runs, extra-base hits and tied for the lead in RBIs. He became the first player with a share of the MLB lead in all four categories since Mickey Mantle in ‘56.
Guardians: Transport yourself to the beginning of the season – rookie Steven Kwan made a strong first impression by simply not missing on swings. His first miss came on the 117th MLB pitch he saw, and it was a foul tip, which officially counts as a missed swing. The 116 pitches he saw prior was the longest streak of pitches seen without a swing and miss for a batter to start his career, among players to debut since the 2000 season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And it wasn’t just beginner’s luck: Kwan finished second in MLB in contact rate.
Royals: Bobby Witt Jr.’s defense and speed were evident from the beginning in his rookie season. He finished the year with 20 home runs, too. Along with his 30 stolen bases, he became one of just five players with at least 20 each of both home runs and stolen bases in his first MLB season. The incredible part? He joined another player on the list who also did it in ‘22, in Julio Rodríguez. Before 2022, the only first-year players to go 20-20 were 1995 Marty Cordova, 1987 Ellis Burks and 1977 Mitchell Page.
Tigers: On April 23, Miguel Cabrera became the 33rd member of the 3,000 hit club. It was the second straight milestone year for Cabrera, who became the 28th player to reach 500 home runs in 2021. With each of those being a select group, very few have accomplished both feats. Cabrera became just the seventh player with 3,000 hits and 500 homers, joining Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Rafael Palmeiro, Eddie Murray, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron.
Twins: With runners on second and third and one out in the bottom of the 10th inning on April 24, Byron Buxton came up to the plate and called game. With the Twins trailing, 4-3, Buxton crushed a no-doubter to left-center field. The homer traveled a projected 469 feet, the longest walk-off home run tracked by Statcast (since 2015). He surpassed a 464-ft homer from Mark Reynolds in 2016.
White Sox: Only three players hit the ball harder on a per-swing basis than Andrew Vaughn in 2022 (minimum 350 batted balls). 20.7% of Vaughn’s swings resulted in hard contact, tied with Juan Soto for fourth-highest, behind only Yordan Alvarez (23.7%), Yandy Díaz (22.8%) and Alejandro Kirk (21.0%). Why do we care? Because hard contact – that is, with a 95+ mph exit velocity – resulted in a .488 batting average and .954 slugging percentage, league-wide.
Angels: Shohei Ohtani continues to amaze. This past season, he hit 34 homers, hitting .273 and slugging .519. As a hurler, he made 28 starts, notching a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 166 innings. He ranked sixth among pitchers in strikeouts and tied for 11th among hitters in home runs, becoming the first player to finish top-15 in MLB in both categories in a season since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893.
Astros: Houston’s bullpen was dominant en route to a World Series title. Just a few numbers to prove that: an 0.83 ERA, .126 opponent batting average, .215 opponent on-base percentage, .208 opponent slugging percentage and 0.75 WHIP. Those figures all have one key component in common – they were the best by any team’s bullpen in a single postseason, minimum 35 reliever innings. And if you’re curious about sample size, the Astros were the 94th team with at least 35 bullpen innings in a postseason.
A’s: One of the most heartwarming moments of the season came on the final day of the regular season, as Stephen Vogt rounded the bases with unbridled joy in the seventh inning after homering in the final at-bat of his career. Back on June 28, 2013, also for Oakland, Vogt had homered for his first career hit. He became the 10th player to debut in the expansion era (since 1961) to have a home run for his first and last career hit, with the last coming 10 or more seasons after the first, according to Elias.
Mariners: Close games were par for the course for the Mariners this year. They had 34 regular-season one-run wins, most in MLB. They also had quite a notable one-run win in the postseason, in AL Wild Card Series Game 2, 10-9. That game featured a seven-run Mariners comeback. It was the largest comeback in a postseason road game, the largest comeback to clinch a postseason series and tied for second-largest comeback win in any postseason game.
Rangers: We know Aaron Judge had a stellar second half en route to reaching 62 home runs. His 252 wRC+ led all qualified players post-All-Star break. But did you know the Rangers’ Nathaniel Lowe was second on that list, at 176? Lowe slugged .566 and hit .339 in the second half, which each ranked third in the Majors in that span. Lowe won his first career Silver Slugger for his overall efforts in ‘22.
Braves: Michael Harris II made an impact in the field and at the plate for Atlanta, earning Rookie of the Year honors. The unique thing about Harris, and his teammate Spencer Strider who finished second, is that he was a standout rookie on a team that had won the prior year’s World Series. Harris became the eighth player to win Rookie of the Year on the team that won the previous Fall Classic, joining 1982 Steve Sax (LAD), 1976 Pat Zachry (CIN) 1962 Tom Tresh (NYY), 1960 Frank Howard (LAD), 1957 Tony Kubek (NYY), 1954 Bob Grim (NYY) and 1951 Gil McDougald (NYY).
Phillies: The Phillies booked a ticket to the World Series in dramatic fashion, as Bryce Harper crushed a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to erase a 3-2 deficit in Game 5. It was just the sixth go-ahead home run in postseason history to be hit while trailing in the eighth or later of a potential series clincher. The others: Juan Uribe in 2013 NLDS Game 4, Joe Carter’s 1993 World Series Game 6 walk-off, Jack Clark in 1985 NLCS Game 6, Pete Rose in 1975 NLCS Game 3 and Hal Smith in 1960 World Series Game 7.
Marlins: Sandy Alcantara won NL Cy Young unanimously, and it’s not hard to see why, as he combined dominance with sheer volume. Alcantara’s six complete games led all of MLB – truly, the whole sport, as he had all of the Marlins’ CGs and no other team had six or more. It was the first time in MLB history that an individual led all players and teams in complete games.
Mets: The Mets were an MLB-best 89-0 when leading entering the ninth inning, the best such record in a single year in franchise history. A big reason for that was Edwin Díaz’s dominance. He struck out 118 of 235 batters he faced – 50.2%. He became one of just three pitchers to finish a season striking out more than half the batters he faced, minimum 40 innings pitched. He joined 2014 Aroldis Chapman (52.5%) and 2012 Craig Kimbrel (50.2%).
Nationals: Joey Meneses made his MLB debut, as a 30-year-old, on August 2, and proceeded to hit .324 and slug .563 with 13 homers in 56 games. That batting average was sixth among qualifiers from Aug. 2 through the end of the season. Only seven players hit more home runs than Meneses in that span, and his 13 led all rookies.
Brewers: Corbin Burnes continued to dominate with swing-and-miss stuff in 2022. Burnes induced a 35.2% whiff rate, leading all starters (minimum 750 pitches swung at). He had a 49.7% whiff rate against his slider, 47.7% against his curve and 46.7% against his changeup. There were 52 individual pitches that were swung at 100 or more times with a 45% whiff rate or higher. Burnes was the only pitcher with three of those 52, and the only other hurler with even two was teammate Brandon Woodruff (changeup 54.0%, slider 45.1%).
Cardinals: Albert Pujols’ chase for 700 career home runs provided entertainment throughout the summer. He didn’t just reach 703 homers, Pujols put together his best all-around offensive season in a while. He had a 154 OPS+, his highest for a season since 2010 (173), which was his second-to-last season with the Cardinals before he went to the Angels. He hit 24 home runs to cap off his Hall of Fame-worthy resume. Back in 2001, Pujols crushed 37 homers in his first MLB season. With his ‘22 total, he became the second player to appear in at least 10 seasons and hit 20-plus home runs in his first and last seasons, joining Ted Williams.
Cubs: Seiya Suzuki’s career provided plenty of exciting moments for the Cubs in ‘22, starting with his nine-game hit streak to begin his career. That was tied with Andy Pafko in 1943 for the longest hit streak by a Cubs player to begin his career since at least 1900. On July 4, after missing 35 games due to injury, Suzuki broke a 1-1 tie in the ninth inning in Milwaukee with an inside-the-park home run. Though the Cubs eventually lost in extras, it’s worth noting it was just the Cubs’ third go-ahead inside-the-park home run in the ninth inning or later in the expansion era (since 1961).
Pirates: In his first full season, Oneil Cruz quickly put his name atop various Statcast leaderboards. On July 14, he threw a ball 97.8 mph fielding a grounder at shortstop. That’s the fastest-tracked infield assist under Statcast (since 2015). On Aug. 24, he crushed a single with a 122.4 mph, displacing Giancarlo Stanton for the hardest-hit batted ball tracked by Statcast.
Reds: Speaking of tracking-era feats, there’s fireballer Hunter Greene, whose velocity is perhaps best summed up by his Sept. 17 start. He threw 33 pitches at 101.0 or faster, the most in a game in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008). Eight of those were strikeout pitches – five more 101-mph strikeouts than anyone had ever notched in a game in that span. He threw 47 pitches of at least 100 mph, the most by a pitcher in a game since ‘08. He owns the top five spots on that list.
Dodgers: The Dodgers won 111 games in the ‘22 regular season, tied for the fourth-most in a season in MLB history with Cleveland in 1954. The only teams to win more games: the 2001 Mariners (116), 1906 Cubs (116) and 1998 Yankees (114). But the Dodgers did something none of those teams, or any team in baseball history, had done – they won 95 games by multiple runs, the most in a season. They’ve now won 217 games in the last two seasons. Only the 1906-07 Cubs won more games in a two-year span, with 223.
D-backs: Corbin Carroll’s speed is on another level. In 52 competitive runs, he had an average sprint speed of 30.7 ft/sec, leading the Majors. For context, 27 ft/sec is average and 30 is elite – so Carroll’s average is elite. Of those 52 runs, 31 were bolts, which are elite-speed runs. Speed can manifest in different ways, and for Carroll, one of the many was getting down the first-base line. His 4.05-second average home-to-first time led all players with at least 25 competitive runs.
Giants: The Giants played a particularly exciting game on July 15, turning a 5-2 ninth-inning deficit into an 8-5 walk-off win. After solo homers by Joey Bart and Darin Ruf, Mike Yastrzemski hit the sixth walk-off grand slam in Giants history and first since Bobby Bonds hit one on Sept. 3, 1973. It was the Giants’ first walk-off home run since Donovan Solano on Aug. 25, 2020.
Padres: After losing each regular-season series to the Dodgers, the Padres eliminated their in-state rivals in the NLDS, culminating with a five-run seventh inning amidst some San Diego rain in Game 4. The Padres won 22 fewer regular-season games than the Dodgers. That’s the second-largest regular-season wins upset in a postseason series. The only team to win a postseason series with a larger such wins upset was the White Sox over the Cubs in the 1906 World Series.
Rockies: C.J. Cron and Coors Field was a fun duo to track all year. A hitter with a proclivity for hard-hit and powerful home runs, in a park that certainly doesn’t hurt. He hit 22 of his 29 homers at home, and had an overall average home run distance of 426 feet, 12 feet further than the average distance for any other batter with at least 25 home runs. In fact, it was the longest average home run distance for any batter in a season tracked by Statcast (min. 25 HR).