Every year at this time we do some supplemental, statistically-driven MLB awards. These will salute some of the leaders in specific areas of our recordkeeping. Here are the 2022 winners:
The Hard-Hitter Award
Sports Info Solutions charts every batted ball as hard-, medium- or soft-hit, based on the ball’s location and velocity (note that this differs from how Statcast tracks hard-hit rate).
The winner of the Hard-Hitter Award is the player who had the highest percentage of batted balls that were hard-hit among batters with a minimum of 350 plate appearances in 2022.
You already know who the winner of this is without even looking. The winner is new Yankees captain Aaron Judge, who recorded a hard-hit ball on 48.0% of his batted balls on the way to a 62-homer season. Judge beat out Yordan Alvarez (44.2%), Teoscar Hernández (43.8%), Byron Buxton (41.8%), and Willson Contreras (41.6%).
The Braves led the majors in team hard-hit rate, snapping the Dodgers’ three-year run in the top spot. Their hard-hit rate of 34.4% edged out the Dodgers by two-tenths of a percentage point. The Blue Jays (34.0%), Twins (33.0%), and Brewers (32.9%) round out the top five.
The Contact Minimizer Award
The Contact Minimizer goes to the pitcher who most limited hard contact in 2022 (minimum 100 innings pitched).
The winner is Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah, who allowed a hard-hit ball on 23.7% of the batted balls against him. Jake Odorizzi (24.2%) was the surprise runner-up, followed by Max Fried (24.5%), Shohei Ohtani (24.6%), Ranger Suárez (25.2%), and Chris Bassitt (25.2%).
The team leader was the Phillies (27.3%), with the Yankees (27.7%), Braves (27.8%), and Giants (27.8%) all right behind.
The Flat Bat Award
The Flat Bat Award is given annually to the best bunter of the year. To determine the winner, we look at run value–run expectancy gained or lost–for both successful and unsuccessful sacrifice bunt and bunt-for-hit attempts for each player.
This year’s winner is Victor Robles of the Nationals, who led MLB with 10 bunt hits (and only 3 failed attempts) and ranked third with 11 sacrifices (versus two failed attempts).
The runner-up for Flat Bat for the second straight season was Daulton Varsho, who had 9 bunt hits and 2 sacrifices.
Click here to read about the methodology behind the Flat Bat Award.
The Vacuum Cleaner Award
SIS Video Scouts also track what are known as “Good Fielding Plays,” which are often those that lead to the unlikely recording of an out. Those can be broken up into different subtypes, including one just for groundballs. The leader in Good Fielding Plays on groundballs is the winner of our Vacuum Cleaner Award.
The winner for 2022 is Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas, who had 20 Good Fielding Plays resulting in a groundball out. Javier Báez finished second with 18, followed by Nolan Arenado and Bobby Witt Jr. (17). Rojas and Arenado had great seasons in Defensive Runs Saved as well. Báez and Witt Jr. did not. The difference between the pairs was that Rojas and Arenado limited their Defensive Misplays & Errors (which we also track). Báez and Witt Jr. had them in abundance.
The Fly Swatter Award
This is a similar award to The Vacuum Cleaner, except it’s for Good Fielding Plays resulting in outs on fly balls and line drives.
The MLB leader in this stat was our Fielding Bible Awards winner for center field, Myles Straw of the Guardians, who had 13 such plays. Robles and Ben Gamel tied for second with 11, followed by Alek Thomas, George Springer, Ian Happ, Alex Verdugo, and Mike Yastrzemski, each with 10.
The Stolen Base Stopper
The award for the Stolen Base Stopper goes to the catcher and pitcher who had the most Stolen Base Runs Saved in 2022.
J.T. Realmuto of the Phillies was the runaway winner with 9 Stolen Base Runs Saved, followed by Christian Bethancourt and Keibert Ruiz with 4 apiece.
Realmuto threw out 27 runners attempting to steal and had two pickoffs, against 38 stolen bases. His 42% caught stealing rate was one percentage point shy of his career-high set in 2019. That season, he totaled 10 Stolen Base Runs Saved.
Eight pitchers tied for the lead at that position with 2 Stolen Base Runs Saved – Taijuan Walker, Max Fried, Aroldis Chapman, Kyle Gibson, David Peterson, José Berríos, Tarik Skubal, and Brady Singer. As an example of what nets 2 Runs Saved, Fried allowed 3 stolen bases in 7 attempts and had 1 pickoff in 185 1/3 innings pitched.
The Hall of Framer
The Hall of Framer award goes to the catcher who had the best pitch-framing numbers in 2022. In our world, that means the catcher who had the most called strikes above expectations (Strike Zone Plus-Minus).
Fielding Bible Award winner Jose Trevino of the Yankees led the way with 104 more called strikes than expected and 1.5 extra strikes per 100 taken pitches. Impressive rookie Adley Rutschman ranked second with 80 and 1.3, respectively.
You can hear Trevino talking about pitch framing in an appearance on The Sports Info Solutions Baseball Podcast.
To learn more about our pitch-framing methodology, read the paper from our award-winning presentation at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
For more statistical leaders, check out The Bill James Handbook 2023, which makes a great holiday gift.