Awards season is upon us and two Atlanta Braves we recognized on Friday evening in the 2022 Players Choice Awards. Ronald Acuña Jr and Spencer Strider were each recognized by their peers for their great work during the 2022 season. It’s not surprising that each player was selected for the awards they received.
2022 Players Choice Award NL Outstanding Rookie
Spencer Strider was given the award for Outstanding Rookie in the 2022 season and I think everyone saw him as a strong contender although Michael Harris had a strong case as well. Strider asserted himself as one of the top up-and-coming starters in all of Major League Baseball during his rookie season.
Strider had some incredibly impressive moments in 2022, including breaking the franchise record for most strikeouts in a game when he struck out sixteen batters in September. This propelled him over Braves legend John Smoltz who set the record back in 1992.
The former Clemson Tiger went 11-5 with an ERA of 2.67 and also struck out 202 batters. Those 202 strikeouts made Strider the first pitcher in MLB history to strike out 200 batters and allow less than 100 hits. He also became the fastest player to reach 200 strikeouts since Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson accomplished that feat in 2001.
Clearly, Spencer Strider has all the ability in the world to become a Hall-of-Famer himself and receive many more accolades in the future assuming he can keep this up. Atlanta Braves fans are truly lucky they have someone like Strider on their side.
2022 Players Choice Award NL Comeback Player
Atlanta Braves fans suffered a massive blow in 2021 when Ronald Acuña Jr.’s season ended prematurely with a torn ACL. Despite that, the Braves would go on to win a World Series. However, it would have been awesome to have won with Acuña being a part of the fun. It was unclear if Ronald would ever be the same after the injury.
Although his season wasn’t what most of us had hoped for, it was clearly good enough for fellow players to recognize him as NL Comeback Player of the year. Ronald started off the season in the DH spot for the Braves and eventually worked himself to play RF.
There were moments when Ronald had to rest his knee and you could tell it was on his mind when in the field. However, this didn’t stop him from providing value and production to the team when he was in the lineup.
He finished 2022 with a slash line of .266/.351/.413 and a .764 OPS. He also had 15 home runs and 50 RBI during the campaign. All things considered, that is a great stat line for a player who wasn’t at 100% for most of the season. I know Braves fans everywhere are very excited for a full season of Ronald Acuña Jr highlights in 2023.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that both of these players made impacts in 2022 and we all know they’ll continue to contribute to this team for many years to come.