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Check out the other 2022 Gallardo Award awards here.
The M-SABR Gallardo Awards, originally conceived by alumni Cam Cain and Sahil Shah, are given to the worst players in baseball. The previous editions in 2018 (AL/NL) and 2019 didn’t mimic every MLB award. This changes in 2022.
This is the eighth article in the series, honoring the worst players in the American League. The Lewis Brinson award mirrors MLB’s MVP Award. The Yovani Gallardo Award is given to the worst pitcher overall. It’s our Cy Young Award. Awards are also given to the worst AL Reliever, worst AL Manager, and the AL Anti-Comeback Player of the Year.
AL Lewis Brinson Award – Miguel Cabrera, DET
Miguel Cabrera is the active career batting average leader, a member of the 3000 hit and 500 home run clubs, 11th all time in RBIs, and has the only Triple Crown win since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. It is safe to say that Miggy is a first ballot Hall of Famer, and assuredly one of the all-time greats. Not unlike many sports legends, though, age has taken its toll. Cabrera has most definitely been on the decline, showing glimpses of his ability to hit for contact without a power stroke. In 2022, the Tigers legend recorded his third straight season with a batting average lower than .260 and a home run total below 16.
Known for his plate discipline and power combination, the four-time AL on-base percentage champ had an OPS below .700 for the first time in his career. Furthermore, Miggy had remained one of the league’s hard hit leaders in past years despite his dip in production. That came to an end in 2022 when Cabrera recorded a 38.5% hard hit percentage, a massive dropoff from previous years in which he sat around 50%.
In today’s power game, hitters like Miguel simply can’t survive totaling five home runs over 433 plate appearances. As disappointing as it is for this Tigers great, Miggy will be taking home this year’s award for the worst AL hitter. Despite this, though, we can always trust Cabrera to produce some of the best fan moments, basepath antics, and dugout laughs as he enters his 21st and final season in the league.
AL Yovani Gallardo Award – Yusei Kikuchi, TOR
The title award of the series, the Yovani Gallardo award, dedicates the year’s worst pitching. In 2022, it was a toss up between two Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi. First off, let’s give some credit to the Blue Jays offense for assisting these pitchers en route to 18 combined wins earned and a playoff berth. It takes an immense amount of effort to do so while struggling through over 270 innings of 5.00+ ERA pitching.
Nonetheless, a winner must be named, and Yusei takes the cake. So far in his four year MLB career, the Japanese star has performed much worse than expected. He has a career 5.02 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Showing glimpses of stronger production in 2021, Kikuchi signed with Toronto in the offseason with the hopes of continued improvement. This was far from the result.
Kikuchi finished the 2022 season with a 5.19 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and a lost starting job. Possibly his worst statistical outcome of 2022 was a 12.8% walk percentage, good for a bottom three league finish. He also finished in the bottom one percent of the league in opponent hard hit percentage. This combination of inaccuracy and pitch “barrelability” has resulted in his awarding of the American League’s Yovani Gallardo Award.
AL Worst Reliever Award – Mike Mayers, LAA
Take out Mike Mayers, and the Angels bullpen was actually one of their bright spots in 2022. With the veteran reliever, though, they were extremely mediocre. This is due to his 5.68 ERA in 50.2 innings on the mound this year. In comparison to Yusei Kikuchi’s line (5.19) in twice as many run-allowing opportunities, it is reasonable to call Mayers a detriment. Similarly to the former, Mayers also finished in the bottom one percent of the league in opponent hard hit percentage. This resulted in a large quantity of extra base hits allowed and, of course, runs.
Mayers had been the most reliable workhorse out of the back end of the Angels bullpen in both of the years prior. He compiled a 3.34 ERA in 105 innings between the Covid-shortened 2020 season and 2021. Why Mayers regressed so significantly in 2022 isn’t entirely clear, but it may be largely contributed to by his consistency in hitting the middle of the zone. Too many missed pitches and barreled balls have resulted in Mayers winning this year’s AL Worst Reliever Award.
AL Worst Manager Award – Tony La Russa, CWS
Yes, the White Sox finished second in their division in 2022. Yes, the White Sox had injury after injury in 2022. Yes, they still managed a total of 81 wins. Nonetheless, Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa was simply not fit to manage the team this year. His lackluster, inattentive demeanor in the dugout was obvious to fans, but this can not alone have earned him the AL Worst Manager Award of 2022.
The Chicago White Sox had extremely high expectations going into the season. Our M-SABR team, just like many others, projected a plus-90 win season and a rather easy first place AL Central finish. Instead, Tito Francona’s Guardians, the youngest team in MLB by far, cruised past the Sox to take home the division title. Beyond the win total itself, the Southsiders compiled the third most errors in the MLB in 2022. Defense is oftentimes a manager’s game. Add this to a poorly managed bullpen, and you have this year’s AL Worst Manager Award winner.
While he may not be going out on top, it is necessary we do recognize the decorated career La Russa had as it is assumed his managing days are now behind him. Finishing with 2884 career wins, the second most of all time behind Connie Mack’s unbreakable 3731, La Russa had success with the White Sox, Athletics, and Cardinals during his tenure. Six pennants and three World Series wins later, and you have an argument for the greatest manager of all time.
AL Anti-Comeback Player of the Year – Chris Sale, BOS
Chris Sale is one of the best pitchers of the 2010s. He is the active leader in strikeouts per nine innings pitched and made seven straight All-Star games between 2012-2018. Sale was also a key component and staff ace of the Red Sox 2018 World Series champion team. As soon as he signed a contract extension the following offseason, his whirlwind of injuries began. Persistent elbow inflammation in 2019 resulted in declined performance and a Tommy John diagnosis. After numerous setbacks in rehab, Sale finally returned for the end of the 2021 season in which he showed serious promise.
As a result, the strikeout artist was set with high expectations for 2022. Competing with Justin Verlander wouldn’t be easy on his trek to a Comeback Player of the Year Award, but it was expected he would be in the conversation. A rib injury and other undisclosed issues prior to spring training curtailed such hopes slightly, but no one expected it would take until July for him to return. Following some less than ideal minor league rehab starts, Sale made his season debut holding the rival Yankees to five innings scoreless. In his next start, though, a comebacker to his hand and a fractured left pinky finger sent him to the IL once again.
As if Sale’s luck wasn’t already bad enough, it was reported in August that he required wrist surgery as a result of a bicycle accident. Overall, the story of Chris Sale is a rocky one, and his high 2022 expectations were far from met. He will supposedly be ready for Spring in 2023, but this time around, let’s not set our expectations quite as high.