Slugger whales and slash-er unicorns made for a fascinating debate last season, with Yankees home run King Aaron Judge and Angels hitter/pitcher Shohei Ohtani arm-wrestling for the American League MVP award. In the end, Judge won easily, with 28 of the first 30 votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Look under the hood and you’ll see that the Judge deserves it. But there is a legal case to be made for Ohtani as well.
When it comes to Paul Goldschmidt of the Cardinals, who won the NL MVP, and all the great players in the major leagues around the world, we can say with confidence that Judge and Ohtani are the two greatest baseball players. best in the world.
But who is the best players in other leagues around the world? Some of them are doing double duty in MLB and abroad. Some of them could be in the big leagues soon. And there are still others who are well-placed as legends in their homeland or elsewhere.
Let’s take a trip and analyze some of the outstanding performances of 2022 from professional leagues around the world.
INF TJ Bennett, Brisbane Bandits, Australian Baseball League
Born in Canada, Bennett played high school football in Arizona and college at Oral Roberts in Oklahoma and the University of Utah. Now 30 years old, he is passing through the ABL, which runs through January and is home to former MLB World Series champion Josh Reddick. Bennett leads the league in home runs and RBIs by a wide margin and the Bandits are running away with the league. Bennett played well in the indy league last season for the Lake Country DockHounds in Wisconsin, then returned to Australia to continue playing. She is a real seamstress.
SS Andres Alvarez, Caimanes de Barranquilla, Colombian Professional Baseball League
The Pittsburgh Pirates are stocking up as part of a deep build. Alvarez, their Double-A shortstop in Altoona, saw a lot of attention in the CPBL last year. The California native and 22nd-round pick out of Washington State in 2019 leads the league in hits and RBI and ranks second in home runs and fourth in OPS. Colombia was included in the pool for the Caribbean World Series for the first time in 2020 and the Alligators managed to capture their first title in 2022. Alvarez could help them again.
With this Grand Slam of Andrés Álvarez, we beat Los Tigres 7-4. Así lo vivió la familia 🐊🐊🐊 from the tribune ¡Siempre damos todo por ustedes! ¿Nos acompañarán el domingo?⚾🏟️🔥 pic.twitter.com/AeZyZVwVMd
— Caimanes de Barranquilla (@caimanesLPB) December 10, 2022
OF Frederich Cepeda, Gallos de Sancti Spiritus, Cuban national series
The 42-year-old Cepeda made his debut for the Roosters in 1997 as a 17-year-old, born not far from José Antonio Huelga Stadium. Since then, he has bounced around, playing for Japan’s Yomiuri Giants and Mexico’s Toros de Tijuana and Cuban heavyweights Industriales. But he always seems to return to Sancti Spiritus. In Cuba’s full season, which ended in May, Cepeda played like a strike zone box taped over his eye. He walked 84 times and struck out just 13 times. He carried a .588 slugging percentage over 165 at-bats. And he hit .410, about 25 points better than the next best hitter.
SS Ronny Mauricio, Tigres del Licey, Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League
One of the best for the Mets, Mauricio has been in and out of various MLB Top 100 lists over the past 18 months, but his contribution to the league-leading Licey is undeniable. this winter. Mauricio was a run-producing machine in the regular season, leading the LIDOM in RBIs and doubles (by far), and ranking second in runs and home runs. Licey has Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz on the roster and Juan Soto may join them soon in the playoffs, but Mauricio has been their driver this season. He’s only 21 years old, so maybe one day Mauricio can say he won an MVP award because of Soto.
Quadrangular de dos carreras for Ronny Mauricio
— Erick José Lantigua (@EJLantigua) December 8, 2022
OF Denzel Richardson, Amsterdam Pirates, Honkbal Hoofdklasse
Richardson is a native of Philipsburg, on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, known in the Netherlands as Sint Maarten. Now 28 years old, he started his MLB career in 2012 in the Rockies organization, appearing in the former Pioneer League for Grand Junction. This season he led the Honkbal Hoofdklasse in home runs and RBI with a 1-of-1 average for walks and was named the Hoofdklasse MVP during the second year in a row. Historically, Neptunus Rotterdam owns Honkbal, and they won the league again this year but Richardson and the Pirates pushed them by one and a half games.
INF Ricardo Paolini, Fortitudo Baseball 1953, Serie A1
Born in Venezuela, Paolini also holds an Italian passport, where he grew up playing. He is only 23 years old, but Paolini made his debut in Italy’s youth pro league in 2018. And his transfer from in Parma to Fortitudo in May. He then cracked the Italian Serie A1 this year as a second baseman. Statistics are difficult to contextualize. But Fortitudo went 40-4 to win the league and Paolini was probably their best player. And he was busy. He is currently playing for the Navegantes del Magallanes in Venezuela this winter.
3B/1B Munetaka Murakami, Tokyo Yakult Swallows, Nippon Professional Baseball
While MLB fans watched Judge chase the league’s single-season home run record, Murakami passed it in NPB. His 56th home run, hit in his final at-bat of the season, broke Sadaharu Oh’s single-season homer record for Japanese-born players 1964. Murakami slashed .318/.458/.711 with 134 RBI in 141 games for the game. Swallow. All of these are ridiculous in appearance, but Murakami is only 22 years old. And he has done it over time.
Pitching Station: NPB Pitching System Explainer, World Baseball Classic Update
He hit 36 homers three years ago and 39 last year. And that record-breaking homer came after a 13-game hitting streak at the end of the season. Murakami recently signed a three-year extension with the Swallows that allows him to sign for an MLB team early, after the 2025 season, when he turns 25.
— 【公式】フジテレレ野球 (@fujitv_baseball) October 3, 2022
CF Lee Jung-hoo, Kiwoom Heroes, Korea Baseball Organization
With the apology of An Woo-jin, the right-hander who scored a game-high 224 batters for the Heroes, his teammates in the outfield probably did more to to enter his club in the Korea Series championship. Lee led the league in hits, RBIs, batting average and on-base percentage — the kind of pure hitting performance that earned him the KBO’s Rookie of the Year award in 2017 and the award MVP this year, when he received 104 of 107 votes. . Maybe it was meant to be. His father, Lee Jong-beom, nicknamed “Son of the Wind,” won the KBO MVP in 1994. That is why Jung-hoo carries the nickname “Son of the Wind.”
This thunderous swing from KBO stud Lee Jung-hoo…
…it’s more cricket than baseball and I love it! 😍pic.twitter.com/Drq4O3AwFu
— Baseball Brit (@BaseballBrit) June 18, 2022
C Brian Navarreto, Gigantes de Carolina, Puerto Rican Winter League
Navarreto began the winter with the Toros in the Dominican Republic, but moved to his native Puerto Rico with the Gigantes, where things settled down. Navarreto, 27, attended the same Florida high school as Javy Báez. He’s now a Brewers pitcher, starting with the Marlins in 2020. But this winter, he’s keeping the Gigantes together, helping lead a pitching staff that includes 19 starters. up to 40 years. this month he became the first player in LBPRC history to win a player of the week award.
UTIL Lin Li, Rakuten Monkeys, Chinese Professional Baseball League
Lin led the CPBL with a .335 batting average that was more than 70 percent better than the league average, along with 14 homers and a league-leading .908 OPS. The adjusted statistics? Gotcha. He had a 169 OPS+ and a 175 wRC+. The Monkeys were defeated by the defending champions CTBC Brothers in the Taiwan series. But Lin, a 26-year-old second baseman, was voted the league’s MVP. The nickname “Nuclear Warhead” is a bit harsh, but it suits him as a hitter.
— CPBL STATS – ♥️ #95, Mina (@GOCPBL) July 3, 2022
SS José Rondón, Leones del Caracas, Venezuelan Professional Baseball League
The Yankees’ Gleyber Torres and the Braves’ Orlando Arcía are playing with Leones this winter, but the team’s best player — the best player in the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional — is Rondón. He leads the league in homers, RBIs and runs. And he sports a four-point OPS. With Rondón lighting the way, Leones lead the league. Rondón, 28, last played in the MLB with the Cardinals in 2021 and was not offered in the postseason. Then, in April, he was handed an 80-game suspension for testing positive for boldenone, a performance-enhancing drug.
(Top photo of TJ Bennett courtesy of Scott Davis / Brisbane Bandits)