The Players Choice Awards always are rather telling because, true to the name, players are recognized by other players.
The Major League Baseball Players Association on Thursday released the finalists for the 2022 Players Choice Awards. The Braves are well-represented among the finalists – of which there are three for each award.
Third baseman Austin Riley is a finalist for the National League Outstanding Player Award. Riley, who played at an NL MVP-level over a good chunk of the season, is up against former Brave and current Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman and Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
Riley hit .273 with an .878 OPS this season. He homered 38 times and drove in 93 runs.
One probably could have guessed two of the three finalists for the NL Outstanding Rookie Award. Center fielder Michael Harris and right-hander Spencer Strider, who both signed contract extensions with the Braves this year, are joined by St. Louis’ Brendan Donovan in this category. Harris and Strider likely will finish as Nos. 1 and 2, in either order, for NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Harris posted a .297 batting average and an .853 OPS in his rookie season. He hit 19 homers and tallied 64 RBIs.
Strider notched a 2.67 ERA over 31 games – 20 of them starts – in a record-setting rookie regular season.
In addition, Ronald Acuña is a finalist for the NL Comeback Player Award. Acuña returned from a torn ACL. He didn’t have the season at the plate that one would expect from him, but still found different ways to help the Braves while dealing with the physical and mental challenges in returning from such a debilitating injury.
Something to note: These awards are different than MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and others voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Voting for the Players Choice Awards was conducted in late September.
The winners will be announced Nov. 3 on ESPN’s 6 p.m. ET broadcast of “SportsCenter.”
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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC