Yordan Alvarez Among This Year’s American League MVP Finalists

Yordan Alvarez is still in the running…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball designated hitter and left fielder for the Houston Astros has been named a finalist for this year’s Major League Baseball’s American League MVP honor.

Yordan AlvarezAlvarez, who hit a home run in Game 6 of the World Series to give the Astros the trophy, will face off against Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees) and Shohei Ohtani (RHP/DH, Los Angeles Angels)

From both the American League and National League, 24 players and managers were shortlisted as finalists for four different awards as voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Manny Machado (3B, San Diego Padres) has been named a finalist in the National League MVP race. He’ll face off against Paul Goldschmidt (1B, St. Louis Cardinals) and Nolan Arenado (3B, St. Louis Cardinals).

Sandy Alcantara (RHP, Miami Marlins) and Julio Urías (LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers) are up for the National League Cy Young 2022 Awards alongside Max Fried (LHP, Atlanta Braves).

The American League Rookie of the Year finalists include Julio Rodríguez, (CF, Seattle Mariners), who is competing against

Steven Kwan (LF, Cleveland Guardians) and (Adley Rutschman, C, Baltimore Orioles) for the title.

The winners for Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year will be announced next week, with one category going live each day on the MLB Network beginning at 6:00 pm ET.

Monday, Nov. 14: Jackie Robinson Rookies of the Year
Tuesday, Nov. 15: Managers of the Year
Wednesday, Nov. 16: Cy Young Awards
Thursday, Nov. 17: MVP Awards

Here’s a look at all the candidates from each league:

AL Rookie of the Year 2022 Finalists:
Steven Kwan, LF, Cleveland Guardians
Adley Rutschman, C, Baltimore Orioles
Julio Rodríguez, CF, Seattle Mariners

NL Rookie of the Year 2022 Finalists:
Brendan Donovan, UTIL, St. Louis Cardinals
Michael Harris II, CF, Atlanta Braves
Spencer Strider, RHP, Atlanta Braves

AL Manager of the Year 2022 Finalists:
Terry Francona, Cleveland Guardians
Brandon Hyde, Baltimore Orioles
Scott Servais, Seattle Mariners 

NL Manager of the Year 2022 Finalists:
Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers
Buck Showalter, New York Mets
Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves

AL Cy Young 2022 Finalists:
Dylan Cease, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Alek Manoah, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Justin Verlander, RHP, Houston Astros 

NL Cy Young 2022 Finalists:
Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Miami Marlins
Max Fried, LHP, Atlanta Braves
Julio Urías, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers 

AL MVP 2022 Finalists:
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Los Angeles Angels
Yordan Alvarez, DH/LF, Houston Astros

NL MVP 2022 Finalists:
Manny Machado, 3B, San Diego Padres
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals
Nolan Arenado, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals

Julio Rodriguez Agrees to Massive Long-Term Deal with Seattle Mariners that Could Max Out at $470 Million

Julio Rodriguez has finalized a historic payday…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, nicknamed “J-Rod,” has finalized a massive long-term extension deal with the Seattle Mariners that guarantees him $210 million and could max out at $470 million, which would be the richest deal in American sports history, sources told ESPN on Friday.

Julio RodriguezThe Mariners announced the deal on Friday before Rodriguez’s at-bat in the sixth inning of Seattle’s 3-2 win over the Cleveland Guardians, and he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 39,870. In a news release announcing the agreement, the team called it a “historic day for Julio and Mariners fans.”

“This is a great day for my family and me,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I have always wanted to spend my whole career here, in Seattle, with this team and with these fans. I want to win here, in Seattle. That was what I told my agents, and what I told [president of baseball operations] Jerry [Dipoto]. I am so happy to be here.”

The base deal is for $120 million and lasts through the 2029 season, sources said.

Following the 2028 season, the Mariners can exercise an option for an additional eight or 10 years, depending on where Rodriguez finishes in MVP voting in the preceding seasons.

If the Mariners turn down the option, Rodriguez can exercise a five-year, $90 million player option after the 2029 season or hit free agency just shy of his 30th birthday.

The Mariners’ option is where the potential money can grow into a historically large figure. If Rodriguez maxes out his MVP escalators, Seattle’s option would be for 10 years and $350 million, taking the total value of the deal to $470 million through 2039. The lowest level would be for eight years and $200 million on top of the original $120 million, keeping Rodriguez tied to the Mariners through 2037.

“Julio is among the most exciting players in the game and has only scratched the surface of what’s to come,” Dipoto said in a statement. “We feel the uniqueness of this deal befits the person. His infectious personality and ability on the field are only surpassed by his character away from it. We are thrilled that generations of Mariners fans will have the privilege of watching him play in T-Mobile Park for many years to come.”

Rodriguez, a powerful and fast center fielder, became one of the most exciting players in baseball when he made the Mariners’ Opening Day roster. His dynamic skills and big personality endeared him to a Seattle community that hasn’t seen the Mariners make a postseason in two decades.

With an MLB All-Star Game selection, an epic Home Run Derby performance and a .267/.326/.467 line with 20 home runs and 23 stolen bases, Rodriguez has made perhaps an even bigger impact than anticipated.

“He’s learned a lot over the last 4½, five months about Major League Baseball and things he needed to work on and continue to improve upon,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said Friday. “Really good teammate. I mean, you can go on and on describing where he’s at. But there’s a lot of baseball, really good baseball ahead of him, and I know that’s what excites me and the organization.”

Signed as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic for $1.75 million in July 2017, Rodriguez was seen by scouts as a prototypical corner outfielder who could hit for power. What he has blossomed into, particularly over the past two years, is a true five-tool player with elite speed and the range for center field without sacrificing any of the power that remains one of his calling cards.

The Mariners broke camp with Rodriguez in center field. He struggled in April, striking out 30 times in 73 at-bats without a home run. Since then, Rodriguez has been one of the top players in baseball and the best on a Mariners team that is 69-57 and 2½ games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the final American League wild-card spot.

His deal, which was first reported by MLB.com, guarantees him the most money for a player with less than one full year in the major leagues. San Diego signed Fernando Tatis Jr. to a 14-year, $340 million contract after his second season, and the Tampa Bay Rays guaranteed $182 million over 11 seasons to shortstop Wander Franco last winter.

Rodriguez is seventh this season in Baseball-Reference wins above replacement and 16th in FanGraphs’ version. Provided he finishes high in MVP voting in future seasons, his deal is likelier to resemble that of Tatis.

While the 10-year version of Seattle’s option would necessitate consistently high MVP finishes, an eight-year, $280 million version — which would guarantee Rodriguez $400 million — is very attainable.

The potential record-setting nature of the $470 million ceiling could soon be eclipsed. Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is set to reach free agency after the 2023 season. A year later, Padres star Juan Soto, who turned down a guaranteed $440 million from the Washington Nationals before they traded him, could be a free agent right after he turns 26.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Among the Finalists for the MLB’s Hank Aaron Award

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is in the running for a coveted MLB award…

The 22-year-old Dominican-Canadian professional baseball player and designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays has been named a finalist for the Hank Aaron Award, the first since the legend’s death.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Guerrero is a finalist alongside Shohei Ohtani, Bryce HarperJuan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr.

The winners of the award, which was established in 1999 by Major League Baseball to honor the best offensive player in each league, will be announced in November.

Ohtani, the favorite for American League MVP, is the first player who also pitches ever nominated. In addition to Ohtani and Guerrero, New York’s Aaron Judge, Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins, Oakland’s Matt Olson, Kansas City’s Salvador Perez and Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez are the American League nominees.

Joining Harper, Soto and Tatis in the National League are Cincinnati’s Nick Castellanos, San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and St. Louis’ Paul Goldschmidt.

In a phone interview, Billye Aaron, who was married to Hank Aaron for 48 years, said her husband “was always very excited about the award itself and, of course, very excited about the World Series because, during that time, before every fourth game, he had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know and shake hands with the winners.”

The voting panel includes eight Hall of Fame players — including new voters Chipper Jones, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz — as well as a fan vote.

Aaron, MLB’s longtime home run king and one of the most beloved and respected players in the game’s history, died in his sleep in January.

“I’m still in a state of grief beyond measure,” Billye Aaron said. “I’m doing OK. I have some difficulty many days. But like everybody else, when you come to this stage in your life, you have to learn to cope with it. You can’t change it. You can’t do anything about God’s will. So you learn to accept it and learn to go on.

“I miss him so very, very much. I loved him so very, very much.”

Aaron, she said, would have been particularly excited for the NL Division Series that starts Friday between the two MLB teams for whom he played: the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. Aaron played his first 12 years for the Milwaukee Braves before they moved to Atlanta, where he spent nine seasons. A two-year stint with the Brewers wrapped up his career.

“He loved Milwaukee. He loved the Milwaukee Braves. He loved the Milwaukee Brewers,” Billye Aaron said. “And he loved, of course, the Atlanta Braves. He probably would’ve had some difficulty not rooting for both teams. The team that is your bread and butter — you probably would fall into that category. And being on the staff as well. So he probably would have to pull for Atlanta. But I know he had a strong fondness for the Milwaukee team.”

MLB intended to honor Aaron in Atlanta at July’s All-Star Game. Blowback from Georgia’s new voting-rights laws, however, prompted MLB to shift the game to Denver’s Coors Field, where Freeman and Judge escorted Billye Aaron onto the field for the ceremony that celebrated her husband.

While MLB weathered criticism for the choice, Billye Aaron said “it was the right thing for Major League Baseball to do.”

“In light of the political situation going on then and continuing to go on now,” she said, “the decision to move the All-Star Game out of the city of Atlanta, in spite of the impact that it would have on Atlanta and on the businesses that were preparing for the great game — I still think Major League Baseball did exactly what it needed to do in recognizing that racism can overrule some things.”

Salvador Perez Breaks Johnny Bench’s Record for Home Runs by a Catcher in a Season

Salvador Perez is one hit ahead in the history books…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player for the Kansas City Royals hit his 46th home run on Monday, breaking Johnny Bench‘s record for home runs by a catcher in a season, as the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians 7-2.

Salvador Perez Perez hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning, topping Bench’s total from 1970 for the most by a player who played at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I thank God for this. It’s amazing.”

Perez also moved into a tie for the major league lead in homers with Toronto Blue Jays‘ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and leads the MLB with 115 RBIs, the first catcher with that many RBIs since Mike Piazza in 1999.

It has been a long road for Perez this season to put himself in contention for the home run title. He trailed Shohei Ohtani — the home run leader at the time — by 12 at the MLB All-Star break and made up the distance by hitting 25 homers since July 24.

Only Jimmie Foxx in 1935 has won the home run title after trailing the leader by at least 12 dingers at the All-Star break, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

“It’s just hard to get your head around, to be honest,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “The long history in this game and how many great players have come through. For him to do something that nobody’s done, it’s amazing.”

Starting again behind the plate — the durable All-Star has seen some time at designated hitter — Perez drove a 1-2 pitch from Triston McKenzie into the left-field bleachers, a drive that traveled 429 feet. Perez pointed to the sky after crossing home plate and was hugged by several teammates as he entered the dugout.

“For a guy who’s so respected in this clubhouse, it was different than your normal home run,” Matheny said. “You could see the look on Salvy’s face. He’ll never forget it.”

Perez tied Bench on Thursday night in Kansas City as the Royals played Seattle. He went 1-for-13 at the plate in the final three games of the series but didn’t feel any pressure to set the record and was more focused on winning games.

“Perez is one of those rare individuals to find energy and passion just to keep playing,” Indians interim manager DeMarlo Hale said. “And the offensive year he’s having it’s even more special. People don’t talk about him in the MVP race, but I’ll tell you what, he’s there in my book.”

Perez also singled in the first and made his presence known defensively when he threw out Myles Straw trying to steal second base in the bottom of the inning.

“He’s a great hitter, to start,” McKenzie said. “Second of all, he’s a great catcher. Threw out Straw early in the game, kind of shut down some of our momentum. He’s a guy that can always make you pay for mistakes. He did just that. He has definitely caught fire toward the end of the season.”

Salvador Perez Ties Johnny Bench’s Record for Homers in a Season by a Catcher

Salvador Perez is rewriting history…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher and Kansas City Royals slugger has tied Johnny Bench‘s record for homers in a season by a catcher with his 45th in a 7-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.

Salvador Perez

Perez hit a two-run homer in the first inning, matching Bench’s total from 1970 for the most by a player who played at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.

Perez is tied with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Major League Baseball lead in homers and also leads the MLB with 112 RBIs.

“We’re witnessing a special season,” manager Mike Matheny said. “We’re witnessing a special player. To be able to be put in the conversation with one most would say is the best ever is pretty rare.”

His talent is not lost on the opposition.

“Salvador, it seems like he’s hitting a home run a day against everybody,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “You can’t miss against him right now.”

Perez is three homers away from matching Jorge Soler‘s team record from 2019. Soler extended the Royals’ record by 10. Perez also tied Mike Sweeney for second on the club’s all-time list with 197 home runs. George Brett holds the club record with 317.

After bouncing back from an elbow injury that caused him to miss all of the 2019 season with an elbow injury, Perez has been on a tear. His 56 home runs in 2020 and 2021 are the most in MLB over that span, while his 144 RBIs rank third.

If Perez, Guerrero and Shohei Ohtani (44) — from Venezuela, Canada and Japan, respectively — are atop the home run leaderboard until the season’s end, it will be the first time in MLB history that the top three leaders were all born outside the United States, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Leads Atlanta Braves to Historic Homer-Heavy Win Against Pittsburgh Pirates 

It’s one for the history books for Ronald Acuna Jr. and his Atlanta Braves teammates…

The 23-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball outfielder hit a grand slam in the second inning off Tyler Anderson, pinch hitter Ehire Adrianza added another slam in the eighth against position player Wilmer Difo and the Braves homered seven times in a 20-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Austin Riley homered twice for his first multi-homer game, and Ozzie AlbiesMarcell Ozuna and Dansby Swanson also went deep for the Braves, who became the first team in major league history to have seven or more homers in a game that included two slams, according to STATS.

This was the sixth seven-homer game in Braves history, and the 20 runs were the most a team has scored in a game this season.

“It was awesome,” Riley said. “Just seemed like everything clicked offensively. I think it really goes to show what this team is capable of doing. I know things might not seem like they’re clicking right now on a daily basis, but it’s there, and it’s a matter of time.”

Acuna had five RBIs and gave Atlanta a 5-0 lead with his 14th homer, which tied him with the Los Angeles Angels‘ Shohei Ohtani for the major league lead. Acuna’s first slam came against Pittsburgh’s Alex McRae on June 10, 2019.

Difo, a 29-year-old middle infielder in his seventh major league season, relieved to start the bottom of the eighth with the Pirates trailing 12-0.

Pitching to catcher Jacob Stallings, Difo threw at up to 88 mph, and Adrianza homered on a first-pitch 80 mph offering. Difo allowed three walks and six hits in his one inning, giving up run-scoring singles to Kevan Smith and Guillermo Heredia, Ozuna’s RBI double and Riley’s sacrifice fly. Difo left with a 72.00 career ERA.

“I think Stallings summed it up best,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said with a laugh. “Difo didn’t have his best stuff tonight, and they capitalized on it.”

Albies and Riley homered back-to-back in the fifth for a 9-0 lead, and Riley and Swanson hit consecutive homers in the seventh against Chasen Shreve.

“We’ve been struggling to score runs and get hits, so that was good to see,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “There were some good at-bats, going the other way, it was a good night. And the way Ian backed up his last start with how he threw tonight was really good.”

Tyler Anderson (3-4) gave up nine runs, 10 hits — seven for extra bases — and two walks in five innings. The Pirates had won five of his previous six starts.

Pittsburgh tied a 20-1 loss to Brooklyn on August 1, 1890, and a 25-6 loss to Brooklyn on May 20, 1896, for its third-largest margin of defeat, behind a 27-5 loss at Cincinnati on September 12, 1883, and a 20-0 loss to Milwaukee on April 22, 2010.

Shelton said it will be easy to move on from such a lopsided loss.

“It’s actually easier to move on from a game like this because the games that are 4-1, 4-3, there’s situations you look back and think this couldn’t have been different,” he said. “Tonight we just got beat. You just move on from it and come back tomorrow.”

Anthony Rendon Begins Los Angeles Angels Career with 1.000 Batting Average

Anthony Rendon has started his MLBrun with a new team with a bang…

The 29-year-old Mexican American professional baseball player, who helped the Washington Nationals win the World Series last year, left his first game in a new uniform with a 1.000 batting average.

Anthony Rendon

Rendon went 2-for-2 in his spring training debut with the Los Angeles Angels, driving in a run and scoring one Tuesday during a 7-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Back from spending time with his wife and newborn child, the MLB All-Starthird baseman played three innings on the field.

“It’s inevitable. You’ve got to get out there every day to get comfortable,” Rendon said. “So day one, you take in stride and take it slow, too. Not try to get too crazy.”

Rendon, who signed a $245 million, seven-year contract as a free agent in December, was just one of the big-name Angels players to play for the first time this February. He batted third, between AL MVP Mike Troutand designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, the two-way star from Japan who also pitches.

Outfielder Justin Uptonand first baseman Albert Pujolsalso were in the lineup for the first time.

“Definitely exciting. Just trying to see how it’s going to pan out throughout the year,” Rendon said. “Kind of getting used to each other and getting in the dugout and seeing what guys’ routines are, and you don’t want to get in anybody’s way at all.”

The major league leader in RBI last season, Rendon has hit .301 or better the past three seasons, with two 100-RBI campaigns. He has totaled 83 home runs in that span, including a career-high 34 last season.

Last October, his home run off Zack Greinkebegan Washington’s late rally in Game 7 at Houston for the championship.

“Right now he’s one of the better clutch hitters in the game. He almost 100 percent of the time works a great at-bat,” Angels manager Joe Maddonsaid. “He is one of those dudes that can handle good pitching well and you can’t say that about everybody.”

Rendon heard the cheers from the small crowd at Tempe Diablo Stadiumas he walked up for his first at-bat as an Angel in the bottom of the first inning. He worked the count to 3-and-2 before lining a single to left field, moving Trout to second base.

Rendon scored easily from second base on Pujols’ two-out, bases-loaded single.

In the second, Rendon picked up his first RBI wearing Angels red when he sliced a two-out, opposite-field single to right field to drive in David Fletcher.

Julio Teheran Agrees to One-Year Contract with the Los Angeles Angels

Julio Teheranhas landed a heavenly deal…

The 28-year-old Colombian professional baseball player and free-agent has agreed to a one-year, $9 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels, according to ESPN.

Julio Teheran

Teheran, the first pitcher to make six consecutive Opening Daystarts for the Atlanta Braves, became a free agent after the Braves declined a $12 million club option for 2020.

Teheran joins Dylan Bundy as right-handers who have joined the Angels’ staff this winter. Teheran, Bundy, Andrew HeaneyShohei Ohtani and Griffin Canning are the likeliest five to be in an Opening Day rotation at present, though the Angels could still add pitchers.

The Angels had the second-highest ERA in the major leagues last season at 5.64 ERA and have made pitching a major priority during the offseason. They tried to sign Gerrit Cole, who joined the New York Yankees, and have turned their attention toward Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Atlanta’s move to decline Teheran’s option was not unexpected on the heels of him being left off the postseason roster after going 10-11 with a 3.81 ERA, though he was added back to the squad as an injury replacement when Chris Martin went down in Game 1 of the NL Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Teheran wound up taking the loss coming out of the bullpen in Game 4. That forced a deciding game, in which the Braves gave up a record 10 runs in the first inning and ended the season with a 13-1 loss.

The right-hander has had higher walk rates and no longer has the huge velocity that led to him getting a six-year, $32.4 million deal in 2013. Teheran is one of the only true sinkerballers among MLB starters, which has improved his ground-ball rate after hitters have caught up with his four-seamer.

Teheran had an eight-start stretch in May and June, covering 44 innings, when he didn’t allow a home run and posted a 0.81 ERA.

He had been a member of the Braves rotation since 2013, twice winning 14 games and making a pair of All-Star teams. He has a 77-73 career record, with five complete games, three shutouts, 1,184 strikeouts and a 3.67 ERA in 229 major league games, including 226 starts.

Baltimore Orioles’ Jonathan Villar Makes Team History Against New York Yankees

Jonathan Villarhas found his cyle…

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, a second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, has became the fifth Orioles player to hit for the cycle (the accomplishment of one batter hitting a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in the same game)and first since Felix Pie on August 14, 2009.

Jonathan Villar 

Villar accomplished the feat during the Orioles 9-6 loss to the New York Yankees at Camden Yards.

Villar tripled in the third inning, doubled in the fifth, homered in the sixth and dumped a single into right field off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. Although it looked like Villar had no interest in heading to second base on the poke near the line, he later said he had no idea that the single completed the cycle.

“I wasn’t paying attention to that,” he said. “When I hit a base hit right there, the coach at first, he said, ‘Congratulations, you hit for the cycle.’ Right there, I knew I hit for the cycle.”

Villar joins Brooks Robinson(July 15, 1960), Cal Ripken(May 6, 1984), Aubrey Huff(June 29, 2007) and Pie (August 14, 2009) as the only players to hit for the cycle in club history. 

The others to do so in the Majors this season are Jorge PolancoShohei OhtaniJake Bauersand Trea Turner.