BA Newsletter: Get Analysis, Rankings Delivered To Your Inbox!

MLB Best Tools 2022: Managers, Scouts & Executives Vote On Baseball's Best Talent

Freddie Freeman (Photo By Chris Bernacchi Diamond Images Via Getty Images)
Freddie Freeman (Photo By Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images Via Getty Images)

The 2022 rookie class is one of the strongest in memory.

It’s also one of the toolsiest.

A total of four rookies finished top three in a Best Tools category in the American or National league this season. In a testament to the forecasting skill of minor league managers, all four players won the same category as prospects last season.

Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. was voted Fastest Baserunner in the AL this season, after taking that category—plus four others—in the Double-A Texas League a year ago.

Mariners center fielder Julio Rodriguez finished third in AL voting for both Fastest Baserunner and Most Exciting Player, the latter of which he won in the High-A Northwest League last year.

In the NL, Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz drew acclaim for Best Infield Arm and Braves center fielder Michael Harris II for Best Defensive Outfielder. Each won that category in a minor league in 2021, Cruz in the Double-A Eastern League and Harris in the High-A South Atlantic League.

Each year, Baseball America distributes Best Tools ballots to every MLB team to be completed by managers, coaches, scouts or front office executives.

CategoryAmerican LeagueNational League
Best HitterYordan Alvarez, AstrosFreddie Freeman, Dodgers
Best PowerAaron Judge, YankeesPete Alonso, Mets
Best BunterCedric Mullins, OriolesVictor Robles, Nationals
Best Strike-Zone JudgmentYandy Diaz, RaysJuan Soto, Padres
Best Hit-And-Run ArtistDavid Fletcher, AngelsJose Iglesias, Rockies
Best BaserunnerJose Ramirez, GuardiansMookie Betts, Dodgers
Fastest BaserunnerBobby Witt Jr., RoyalsTrea Turner, Dodgers
Most Exciting PlayerShohei Ohtani, AngelsTrea Turner, Dodgers
Best PitcherJustin Verlander, AstrosSandy Alcantara, Marlins
Best FastballJustin Verlander, AstrosZack Wheeler, Phillies
Best CurveballJustin Verlander, AstrosMax Fried, Braves
Best SliderAndres Muñoz, MarinersSandy Alcantara, Marlins
Best ChangeupShohei Ohtani, AngelsDevin Williams, Brewers
Best ControlJustin Verlander, AstrosAaron Nola, Phillies
Best Pickoff MoveRobbie Ray, MarinersMax Fried, Braves
Best RelieverEmmanuel Clase, GuardiansJosh Hader, Padres
Best Defensive CatcherJose Trevino, YankeesJT Realmuto, Phillies
Best Defensive 1BVladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue JaysFreddie Freeman, Dodgers
Best Defensive 2BJonathan Schoop, TigersTommy Edman, Cardinals
Best Defensive 3BMatt Chapman, Blue JaysNolan Arenado, Cardinals
Best Defensive SSAndrew Velazquez, AngelsDansby Swanson, Braves
Best Infield ArmMatt Chapman, Blue JaysManny Machado, Padres
Best Defensive OFByron Buxton, TwinsMookie Betts, Dodgers
Best Outfield ArmAaron Hicks, YankeesMookie Betts, Dodgers
Best ManagerDusty Baker, AstrosBuck Showalter, Mets

AMERICAN LEAGUE 

Best Hitter

1. Yordan Alvarez, Astros

2. Luis Arraez, Twins

3. Rafael Devers, Red Sox

Best Power

1. Aaron Judge, Yankees

2. Yordan Alvarez, Astros

3. Shohei Ohtani, Angels

Best Bunter

1. Cedric Mullins, Orioles

2. Nicky Lopez, Royals

3. Andres Gimenez, Guardians

Best Strike-Zone Judgment

1. Yandy Diaz, Rays

2. Alex Bregman, Astros

3. Yordan Alvarez, Astros

Best Hit-And-Run Artist

1. David Fletcher, Angels

2. Elvis Andrus, Athletics

3. Luis Arraez, Twins

Best Baserunner

1. Jose Ramirez, Guardians

2. Shohei Ohtani, Angels

3. Marcus Semien, Rangers

Fastest Baserunner

1. Bobby Witt Jr., Royals

2. Byron Buxton, Twins

3. Jorge Mateo, Orioles

Most Exciting Player

1. Shohei Ohtani, Angels

2. Byron Buxton, Twins

3. Julio Rodriguez, Mariners

Best Pitcher

1. Justin Verlander, Astros

2. Shane McClanahan, Rays

3. Dylan Cease, White Sox

Best Fastball

1. Justin Verlander, Astros

2. Emmanuel Clase, Guardians

3. Clay Holmes, Yankees

Best Curveball

1. Justin Verlander, Astros

2. Shane McClanahan, Rays

3. Gerrit Cole, Yankees

Best Slider

1. Andres Muñoz, Mariners

2. Dylan Cease, White Sox

3. Alek Manoah, Blue Jays

Best Changeup

1. Shohei Ohtani*, Angels

2. Kevin Gausman*, Blue Jays

3. Kendall Graveman, White Sox

* Splitter instead of changeup

Best Control

1. Justin Verlander, Astros

2. Corey Kluber, Rays

3. Shane McClanahan, Rays

Best Pickoff Move

1. Robbie Ray, Mariners

2. Zach Plesac, Guardians

3. Tarik Skubal, Tigers

Best Reliever

1. Emmanuel Clase, Guardians

2. Jorge Lopez, Twins

3. Clay Holmes, Yankees

Best Defensive C

1. Jose Trevino, Yankees

2. Christian Vazquez, Astros

3. Austin Hedges, Guardians

Best Defensive 1B

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays

2. Ty France, Mariners

3. Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles

Best Defensive 2B

1. Jonathan Schoop, Tigers

2. Andres Gimenez, Guardians

3. Trevor Story, Red Sox

Best Defensive 3B

1. Matt Chapman, Blue Jays

2. Josh Donaldson, Yankees

3. Jose Ramirez, Guardians

Best Defensive SS

1. Andrew Velazquez, Angels

2. Carlos Correa, Twins

3. Jorge Mateo, Orioles

Best Infield Arm

1. Matt Chapman, Blue Jays

2. Carlos Correa, Twins

3. Jonathan Schoop, Tigers

Best Defensive OF

1. Byron Buxton, Twins

2. Michael A. Taylor, Royals

3. Kevin Kiermaier, Rays

Best Outfield Arm

1. Aaron Hicks, Yankees

2. Ramon Laureano, Athletics

3. Adolis Garcia, Rangers

Best Manager

1. Dusty Baker, Astros

2. Kevin Cash, Rays

3. Brandon Hyde, Orioles

The Astros keep churning out victories, both on the field and in player development

The faces change. The results do not.

The Astros won the 2017 World Series and played for a championship in 2019 and 2021. In between, Houston reached the American League Championship Series in 2018 and 2020.

Even as stars like Gerrit Cole, George Springer and Carlos Correa have departed as free agents over the years, the Astros have kept right on rolling.

In 2022, Houston is once again an AL power.

The reasons are myriad, but it helps that Yordan Alvarez has become perhaps the most dangerous offensive force in the AL and that a 39-year-old Justin Verlander has pitched like a Cy Young Award winner in his first post-Tommy John surgery season.

Yordan Alvarez
Best Hitter (#1)
Best Power (#2)
Best Strike-Zone Judgment (#3)

Justin Verlander
Best Pitcher (#1)
Best Fastball (#1)
Best Curveball (#1)
Best Control (#1)

Alex Bregman
Best Strike-Zone Judgment (#2)

Dusty Baker
Best Manager (#1)

Astroscelebration

Mission Accomplished: Astros Complete Historic Run With 2022 World Series Title

The Astros beat the Phillies, 4-1, in Game 6 of the World Series to win the second championship in franchise history.

NATIONAL LEAGUE 

Best Hitter

1. Freddie Freeman, Dodgers

2. Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals

3. Mookie Betts, Dodgers

Best Power

1. Pete Alonso, Mets

2. Austin Riley, Braves

3. Kyle Schwarber, Phillies

Best Bunter

1. Victor Robles, Nationals

2. Trent Grisham, Padres

3. Daulton Varsho, D-backs

Best Strike-Zone Judgment

1. Juan Soto, Padres

2. Kyle Schwarber, Phillies

3. Max Muncy, Dodgers

Best Hit-And-Run Artist

1. Jose Iglesias, Rockies

2. Miguel Rojas, Marlins

3. Yadier Molina, Cardinals

Best Baserunner

1. Mookie Betts, Dodgers

2. Tommy Edman, Cardinals

3. Jazz Chisholm Jr., Marlins

Fastest Baserunner

1. Trea Turner, Dodgers

2. Oneil Cruz, Pirates

3. Tyler O’Neill, Cardinals

Most Exciting Player

1. Trea Turner, Dodgers

2. Mookie Betts, Dodgers

3. Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves

Best Pitcher

1. Sandy Alcantara, Marlins

2. Max Fried, Braves

3. Corbin Burnes, Brewers

Best Fastball

1. Zack Wheeler, Phillies

2. Carlos Rodon, Giants

3. Ryan Helsley, Cardinals

Best Curveball

1. Max Fried, Braves

2. Aaron Nola, Phillies

3. David Robertson, Phillies

Best Slider

1. Sandy Alcantara, Marlins

2. Max Scherzer, Mets

3. Zack Wheeler, Phillies

Best Changeup

1. Devin Williams, Brewers

2. Sandy Alcantara, Marlins

3. Pablo Lopez, Marlins

Best Control

1. Aaron Nola, Phillies

2. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

3. Miles Mikolas, Cardinals

Best Pickoff Move

1. Max Fried, Braves

2. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

3. Patrick Corbin, Nationals

Best Reliever

1. Josh Hader, Padres

2. Edwin Diaz, Mets

3. Ryan Helsley, Cardinals

Best Defensive C

1. JT Realmuto, Phillies

2. Yadier Molina, Cardinals

3. Will Smith, Dodgers

Best Defensive 1B

1. Freddie Freeman, Dodgers

2. Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals

3. Christian Walker, D-backs

Best Defensive 2B

1. Tommy Edman, Cardinals

2. Jake Cronenworth, Padres

3. Brendan Rodgers, Rockies

Best Defensive 3B

1. Nolan Arenado, Cardinals

2. Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates

3. Manny Machado, Padres

Best Defensive SS

1. Dansby Swanson, Braves

2. Miguel Rojas, Marlins

3. Willy Adames, Brewers

Best Infield Arm

1. Manny Machado, Padres

2. Oneil Cruz, Pirates

3. Nolan Arenado, Cardinals

Best Defensive OF

1. Mookie Betts, Dodgers

2. Harrison Bader*, Cardinals

3. Michael Harris II, Braves

* Traded to Yankees, Aug. 2

Best Outfield Arm

1. Mookie Betts, Dodgers

2. Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves

3. Hunter Renfroe, Brewers

Best Manager

1. Buck Showalter, Mets

2. Craig Counsell, Brewers

3. Dave Roberts, Dodgers

Stars and depth help the Dodgers dominate both NL competition and Best Tools voting

Great teams are composed of great players.

And great players tend to catch the attention of MLB managers, who for 33 consecutive seasons have cast votes in Baseball America’s annual Best Tools survey. 

Some of the toolsiest teams in Best Tools balloting history are obvious.

In the future, we may look back at the 2022 Dodgers in a similar light. Led by superstars Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner, Los Angeles could seemingly do no wrong this season—and that includes Best Tools voting.

The trio of Betts, Freeman and Turner combined to win seven National League Best Tools categories. Clayton Kershaw, Will Smith, Max Muncy and manager Dave Roberts finished top three in various other categories.

All told, Dodgers occupied 14 of the 75 total places—nearly 20%—of this year’s National League Best Tools winners.

Mookie Betts
Best Hitter (#3)
Best Baserunner (#1)
Most Exciting Player (#2)
Best Defensive OF (#1)
Best OF Arm (#1)

Freddie Freeman
Best Hitter (#1)
Best Defensive 1B (#1)

Trea Turner
Fastest Baserunner (#1)
Most Exciting Player (#1)

Clayton Kershaw
Best Control (#1)
Best Pickoff Move (#2)

Will Smith
Best Defensive C (#3)

Max Muncy
Best Strike-Zone Judgment (#3)

Dave Roberts
Best Manager (#3)

of Free Stories Remaining