Wednesday, May 25, 2022

MLB: 2022 Season News & Notes

Enjoy the Show: Earlier this week, MLB launched “Enjoy the Show,” a new campaign inviting fans to celebrate all the elements that make baseball special, including the game’s exciting young stars, one-of-a-kind ballpark experiences, mascots, music and more. Global superstar and reigning American League Most Valuable Player Shohei Ohtani is featured in the central spot of the campaign, with many spinoffs that recognize compelling moments on and off-the-field during the season.The promo was produced with English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean voiceover for international distribution. It will premiere on MLB social platforms, run on national and international broadcasts and be used by teams in-park.

Competitive Balance: For more than two decades, competitive balance has been a hallmark of Major League Baseball, which has seen 15 different World Series Champions over the last 21 seasons. Since 2000, no club has repeated as a World Champion, marking an active streak that is the longest in the history of not only MLB, but all professional sports.

On-Field Rules Changes: Last week, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced the rule changes that will be in place for the 2022 Championship Season.

  • Designated Hitter: Beginning in 2022, the designated hitter will be in place in both the American and National Leagues. In an effort to afford additional flexibility to starting pitchers who bat for themselves, such players will be considered two separate people for the purposes of Rule 5.11(a). If the player is replaced as a starting pitcher, he can continue as the designated hitter, and if the designated hitter is replaced, he can continue as the starting pitcher.
  • Extra Innings Rule: In an effort to preserve player health and safety during the condensed schedule, the rule that each extra inning begins with a runner on second base has been restored for the 2022 season.
  • Active Roster Limits: From Opening Day through May 1st, the 26-player active Major League roster shall increase to 28 (including 29 players for any doubleheaders), and the limitation on the number of pitchers (13) on the active roster and the restriction on position players appearing as pitchers during a game shall not apply. On May 2nd, 26-man rosters, the limit on number of pitchers on the active roster, and the restriction of position players appearing as pitchers will resume.

Replay Announcements: For the first time, Major League umpires will conduct in-park announcements during the replay review process during the 2022 season, enhancing the ballpark and broadcast experiences. Training was conducted in Arizona and Florida this spring.

PitchCom Arrives: Starting in 2022, PitchCom will be available for Major League teams to utilize during games. The communication device will be available for up to five defensive players to use at a given time (including the pitcher and catcher). The catcher uses a transmitter to send signs to the pitcher, who wears a receiver in the band of his cap. Transmissions are encrypted, and Clubs are free to customize the audio as well as the configuration of the transmitter. The new form of communication was tested throughout Spring Training and received a significant amount of positive feedback from players.

Year of the Doubleheader: The 2022 season features 31 scheduled doubleheaders, including 26 split doubleheaders and five of the traditional variety. All games part of doubleheaders in 2022 are scheduled as nine-inning games, following the implementation of seven-inning doubleheaders as part of health and safety protocols in 2020 and 2021.

New Postseason Format: As agreed upon in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the number of teams eligible for the Postseason will increase from 10 to 12 beginning with the 2022 season. Under the new format:

  • The number 1 and number 2 seeds (division winners with the two best records) in each League will receive a bye during the Wild Card Round.
  • The Wild Card Round will feature the number 3 seed (division winner with the third-best record) against the number 6 seed (third Wild Card Club) and the number 4 seed (first Wild Card Club) against the number 5 seed (second Wild Card Club) in each League. The Wild Card Round will be a best-of-three series with all games played at the site of the number 3 and 4 seeds, respectively.
  • The Division Series will remain a 2-2-1 format with the number 1 seed facing the winner of the 4/5 Wild Card matchup, while the number 2 seed faces the winner of the 3/6 Wild Card matchup.

City Connect Uniform Program: The Nike MLB City Connect program, which launched with seven unique uniforms in 2021, celebrates the bond between each Club and its city. Seven additional Clubs will participate in the City Connect program during the 2022 season, beginning with the Washington Nationals, who will debut the uniform on Saturday, April 9th. Other Clubs scheduled for an on-field debut in 2022 include the Houston Astros (April 20th); Kansas City Royals (April 30th); Colorado Rockies (June 4th); Los Angeles Angels (June 11th); Milwaukee Brewers (June 24th); and San Diego Padres (July 8th).

Special Events in 2022: In addition to All-Star Week festivities this summer in Los Angeles, MLB will celebrate a number of special events and occasions throughout 2022.

  • 75th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson: On Monday, MLB announced a host of new and refreshed tributes to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s historic debut on April 15, 1947 as he broke Baseball’s color barrier and began to change our society forever. Among the new initiatives for 2022 are an exclusive MLB-produced video; a 75th anniversary logo; an assortment of public displays to honor Jackie at the “Crossroads of the World,” Times Square on the morning of April 15th; and as is tradition, players, managers and coaches wearing Robinson’s iconic number with all teams for the first time using Dodger blue “42” jersey numbers. Click here for a full rundown of Jackie Robinson Day tributes.
  • Lou Gehrig Day: Thursday, June 2nd will mark the second “Lou Gehrig Day” across MLB. The celebration became a permanent fixture on the MLB calendar last year to honor the legacy of the Hall of Fame first baseman and to raise awareness and funds to fight ALS.
  • MLB at Field of Dreams:MLB at Field of Dreams presented by GEICO returns in 2022 as the Reds and Cubs square off at the historic site in Dyersville, Iowa on Thursday, August 11th. The 2021 contest between the Yankees and White Sox drew approximately 5.9 million viewers across television and streaming, marking the most-viewed regular season game since 1998.
  • Little League Classic:The Red Sox and Orioles will meet at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania on Sunday, August 21st for the fifth installment of the Little League Classic presented by GEICO.
  • Roberto Clemente Day: Thursday, September 15th marks the annual celebration of Roberto Clemente Day across Major League Baseball. Roberto Clemente Day was established in 2002 to honor the enduring legacy of the late Hall of Famer and recognize Club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award, Baseball’s most prestigious individual player honor. This year, MLB will pay homage to the 50th anniversary of Roberto Clemente’s tragic passing.

Broadcast & Streaming Partners: During the 2022 season, MLB will partner with several national broadcasters and streaming services to bring Major League games to a widespread audience.

  • FOX Sports: Baseball returns to FOX Sports for its 27th season with games airing on FOX, FS1 and FOX Deportes. The 2022 slate will begin on Saturday, April 9th when the Yankees welcome the visiting Red Sox at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on FS1. The full regular season schedule on FOX Sports, highlighted by its “Baseball Night in America” telecasts, as well as the 2022 All-Star Game, MLB at Field of Dreams and Postseason contests, features more than 80 MLB games across FOX platforms. All games are simulcast on the FOX Sports app.
  • ESPN: ESPN will provide exclusive Opening Night coverage on ESPN2 as the defending World Champion Braves host the Reds at 8:00 p.m. (ET). “Sunday Night Baseball” returns for a 33rd season with a new broadcast team comprised of Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez and David Cone. The exclusive national game of the week at 7:00 p.m. (ET) each Sunday night, which begins on Sunday, April 10th with the Yankees hosting the Red Sox, also includes coverage of the 2022 MLB Little League Classic presented by GEICO on August 21st as the Red Sox and Orioles meet in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This season, ESPN presents KayRod Cast, a special alternate presentation for select Sunday Night Baseball games on ESPN2. KayRod Cast will pair World Series Champion and three-time MVP Alex Rodriguez with iconic New York broadcasting voice Michael Kay. ESPN+ offers robust game coverage and a wide variety of MLB-related offerings, including Big Papi’s Places – a series featuring 2022 Hall of Fame electee David Ortiz.
  • Turner Sports: TBS will debut its new season-long Tuesday night package with a national game telecast each week, accompanied by a new studio show anchored by Ernie Johnson with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, Jimmy Rollins and Curtis Granderson. Game action on TBS will begin on Tuesday, April 12th, when the Padres visit the NL West-rival Giants at 9:45 p.m. (ET)/6:45 p.m. (PT).
  • MLB Network: MLB Network will air more than 200 live regular season games this season, including the Red Sox at Yankees this Friday, April 8th at 1:00 p.m. (ET). A full slate of live daily studio programs returns to MLB Network this season, including new programs Off Base (3:00 p.m. ET) and Pregame Spread (5:00 p.m. ET). MLB Network’s live programming begins tomorrow with MLB Central at 9:00 a.m. (ET).
  • Apple TV+: MLB has partnered with Apple to bring Major League games to Apple TV+ for the first time. Announced games streaming on Apple TV+ will be free and available to anyone with Internet access across devices where Apple TV+ can be found, including on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K and HD, and on, along with smart TVs, gaming consoles, and cable set-top boxes. Apple’s “Friday Night Baseball” will premiere on Friday, April 8th as the Nationals host the Mets at 7:00 p.m. (ET) and the Angels welcome the Astros at 9:30 p.m. (ET)/6:30 p.m. (PT). The weekly “Friday Night Baseball” doubleheader will be available to fans in eight countries exclusively on Apple TV+.

Peacock: This season, Peacock becomes the exclusive home to a new Major League Baseball game of the week on Sunday mornings. Beginning on May 8th, Peacock will live stream an NBC Sports-produced baseball game for 18 consecutive weeks, with start times for the first six Sunday games at 11:30 a.m. (ET) and the following 12 Sunday games beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET. The first game of the new package features the White Sox vs. the Red Sox on May 8th at 11:30 a.m. (ET) and will be simulcast on the NBC broadcast network, with the remaining 17 games available exclusively on Peacock’s premium service. In addition, Peacock will be the exclusive home of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game – featuring top minor league prospects – which will be played during All-Star Week at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

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Women in Baseball: As of the start of the 2022 season, there will be 33 women who have some level of coaching role at the Major or Minor League levels (i.e., on-field coaching, player development, strength & conditioning, or mental health skills), notably including a record of 11 on-field coaching and player development positions, marking the most between the Major and Minor Leagues in Baseball history.

  • The rise of women in senior front office positions at Clubs continued in 2021, joining Jean Afterman (New York Yankees, Asst. GM); Raquel Ferreira (Boston Red Sox, Asst. GM); and Eve Rosenbaum (Baltimore Orioles, Director of Player Development). These included:
  • Kim Ng – General Manager, Miami Marlins
  • The first woman to serve as General Manager of a Major League team, as well as the first of any men’s professional sports league, becoming the highest-ranking female in baseball operations.
  • Sara Goodrum – Director of Player Development, Houston Astros
  • Liz Benn – Director of Major League Operations, New York Mets
  • The highest-ranking woman baseball operations executive in Club history.

Familiar Faces in Different Places:

  • Five-time All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman is scheduled to make his Dodgers debut on Friday against the Rockies at Coors Field. Freeman, who played the first 12 seasons of his career for the Braves, will face his former squad for the first time in a three-game series at Dodger Stadium beginning on Monday, April 18th. The 2020 NL MVP will make his return to Atlanta for a three-game set beginning on Friday, June 24th. Three-time All-Star closer Kenley Jansen, who similarly spent the first 12 years of his career for the Dodgers, will make his first appearance in the Braves bullpen on Thursday against the Reds at Truist Park. Los Angeles and Atlanta have faced off in the previous two NLCS, and represent the last two World Series winners, respectively.
  • All-Star first baseman Matt Olson is slated to debut for the Braves on Thursday against the Reds. Olson, who played the first six years of his career for the A’s, will face his former Club for the first time in a two-game series in Atlanta beginning on Tuesday, June 7th. Olson will make his return to Oakland for a two-game set beginning on Tuesday, September 6th.
  • Eight-time All-Star Craig Kimbrel will appear in the Dodgers bullpen for the first time during Los Angeles’ opening series in Colorado. The 12-year-veteran spent the first five seasons of his career in Atlanta and was named NL Rookie of the Year in 2011.
  • Two-time All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa is scheduled to make his Twins debut on Friday against the Mariners at Target Field. Correa, who played the first seven seasons of his career for the Astros, will face his former squad for the first time in a three-game series in Minnesota beginning on Tuesday, May 10th. Correa will make his return to Houston in a three-game series beginning on Tuesday, August 23rd.
  • The Rangers’ new middle infield of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien are scheduled to make their Club debut on Friday against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, and their Globe Life Field debut on Monday against the Rockies. Semien finished third in 2021 AL MVP voting and made his first All-Star appearance last year in his lone campaign with the Blue Jays.
  • Four-time All-Star and 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant is scheduled to make his Rockies debut on Friday against the Dodgers in Colorado.
  • Two-time All-Star shortstop Trevor Story is slated to make his Red Sox debut on Friday, while 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson is scheduled to make his Yankees debut as the AL East rivals square off in the Bronx.
  • Two-time All-Star middle infielder Javier Báez is scheduled to make his Tigers debut on Friday against the White Sox at Comerica Park. The dynamic infielder will be joined by 2019 All-Star outfielder Austin Meadows, who was acquired earlier this week by the Tigers.
  • All-Star outfielders Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber will make their Phillies debuts on Friday against the A’s at Citizens Bank Park. The sluggers join reining NL MVP Bryce Harper to form one of the more formidable lineups in Baseball.
  • Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray is slated to make his Mariners debut on Friday against the Twins. Ray, who led the Majors with 248 strikeouts in 2021 in his first full season with the Blue Jays, has a chance to face his former Club in a three-game set in Toronto beginning on Monday, May 16th, and a four-game series in Seattle beginning on Thursday, July 7th.
  • An All-Star in 2016, outfielder Starling Marte is scheduled to make his Mets debut on Thursday against the Nationals at Nationals Park. The two-time Gold Glove Award winner is joined by three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star Max Scherzer, as well as All-Star infielder Eduardo Escobar and outfielder Mark Canha as fellow Met free agent acquisitions.
  • All-Star starting pitcher Kevin Gausman is projected to make his Blue Jays debut on Saturday against the Rangers. Gausman will follow two-time All-Star José Berríos in the starting rotation, who was acquired by Toronto at the Trade Deadline last year.

Rising Stars: The 2021 season continued a recent trend of impressive seasons from a crop of young stars who look forward to taking the next step in their careers, including: Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Braves; Bo Bichette of the Blue Jays; Dylan Carlson of the Cardinals; Wander Franco of the Rays; Adolis García of the Rangers; Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays; Jonathan India of the Reds; Jarred Kelenic of the Mariners; Alek Manoah of the Blue Jays; Ryan Mountcastle of the Orioles; Austin Riley of the Braves; Luis Robert of the White Sox; Trevor Rogers of the Marlins; Juan Soto of the Nationals; Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres; and Kyle Tucker of the Astros.

Welcome to the Show: Several of MLB’s top prospects will make their Major League debuts in the coming days after making their Club’s Opening Day roster. Notable members of the group include:

  • Bobby Witt Jr. of the Royals currently ranks as the number one overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline. The 21-year-old infielder, who was the second overall selection in the 2019 MLB Draft, hit .290 with 33 home runs, 97 RBI, 35 doubles and 29 stolen bases across 124 games combined between Double-A and Triple-A in 2021.
  • Julio Rodríguez of the Mariners enters 2022 as the number three overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline. The 21-year-old outfielder, who hails from Loma de Cabrera, Dominican Republic, batted .347 with 13 home runs, 47 RBI, 19 doubles and 21 stolen bases over 74 games between High-A and Double-A in 2021.
  • Spencer Torkelson of the Tigers is MLB Pipeline’s number four overall prospect heading into the 2022 season. The 22-year-old infielder, who was the number one overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft out of Arizona State University, connected for 30 home runs with 91 RBI while batting .267 with 29 doubles and 89 runs scored in 2021 across High-A, Double-A and Triple-A.
  • Hunter Greene of the Reds is the fifth overall pitching prospect entering the 2022 season. The 22-year-old right-hander, who is a product of MLB’s RBI Program and Urban Youth Academy, was the number two overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. He compiled a 10-8 mark with a 3.30 ERA and 139 strikeouts over 106.1 innings pitched across 21 starts at Double-A and Triple-A in 2021.

Opening Day Tidbits

  • Yadier Molina of the Cardinals has made 17 straight Opening Day starts at catcher (2005-21), the most ever by a Cardinals backstop.
  • The 17 consecutive starts are a record for the most consecutive Opening Day starts at a single position in Cardinals history, and his streak is currently second-longest in franchise history overall, behind Hall of Famer Stan Musial (18, 1946-63).
  • Molina is the only catcher in Major League history to make 17 Opening Day starts with only one team.
  • With a start behind the plate on Thursday, Molina will become just the second catcher ever to start at least 18 Opening Day contests, joining Hall of Famer Ivan Rodríguez (20).
  • Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright will make his seventh career home-opening start on Thursday against the Pirates (also: 2009-10, 2012, 2015, 2018, 2021), which will surpass Hall of Famer Bob Gibson (1967-69, 1972, 1974-75) for the most in franchise history.
  • Wainwright and Molina enter 2022 as teammates for their 18th season (2005-22), marking the most in franchise history and tied for the third-longest in Major League history. The duo has been a starting battery for 304 career regular season games, which is fourth-most in history behind only Detroit’s Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan (324); Hall of Famer Warren Spahn and Del Crandall of the Boston/Milwaukee Braves (316); and Red Faber and Ray Schalk of the White Sox (306).
  • Mike Trout will return to the field after being limited by injury to just 36 games in 2021. At the time of his injury, the three-time MVP led the Majors in on-base percentage (.466) and OPS (1.090) while leading the AL in slugging percentage (.624). Trout is the only player in Angels history to make nine Opening Day starts in center field (2013-21). The Club record for consecutive Opening Day starts at any position is held by Tim Salmon, who registered 11 consecutive Opening Day starts in right field from 1993-2003.
  • San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford has made 10 straight Opening Day starts, which are the most by a Giants shortstop since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. Overall, his 10 Opening Day starts are tied for fifth-most by any player in the San Francisco era along with teammate Brandon Belt and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal. His streak is also the longest active streak by a shortstop for a single team.
  • Xander Bogaerts has made eight consecutive starts at shortstop on Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox (2014-21). With a start at shortstop on Friday, Bogaerts will set a new franchise record for consecutive Opening Day starts at shortstop, surpassing Everett Scott (8, 1914-21). Overall, Bogaerts would become the ninth player in Sox history to make nine consecutive starts at a single position on Opening Day, joining Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski (12 in LF); Dustin Pedroia (11 at 2B); Dwight Evans (10 in RF); Hall of Famer Harry Hooper (10 in RF); Hall of Famer Wade Boggs (10 at 3B); Jason Varitek (10 at C); Hall of Fame electee David Ortiz (9 at DH); and Hall of Famer Jim Rice (9 in LF).
  • Diamondbacks left-hander Madison Bumgarner will start on Opening Day against the Padres, marking his eighth career Opening Day start, and third with Arizona. His three Opening Day starts will be tied for third-most in D-backs history, matching Zack Greinke and Ian Kennedy. Only Hall of Famer Randy Johnson (6) and Brandon Webb (4) will have more.
  • Royals right-hander Zack Greinke will make his sixth career Opening Day start on Thursday against Cleveland, following 2010 with Kansas City, 2016-17 and 2019 with Arizona, and 2021 with Houston. According to Elias, the 12-year gap between Opening Day starts with Kansas City will be the largest gap between Opening Day pitching starts with the same team. In addition, at 38 years and 168 days old, Greinke will become the oldest Opening Day starting pitcher in Royals history, surpassing Tim Belcher, who was 36 years old on Opening Day in 1998.
  • Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola is scheduled to start his fifth consecutive Opening Day game, joining Hall of Famers Robin Roberts (12, 1950-61) and Steve Carlton (10, 1977-86) as the only Phillies hurlers ever to make at least five straight Opening Day starts.
  • Orioles pitcher John Means is scheduled to take the mound for Baltimore’s opener on Friday against the Rays in St. Petersburg, and he will become the first left-hander to make consecutive Opening Day starts for the Orioles since Dave McNally made three straight such starts from 1969-71.
  • White Sox hurler Lucas Giolito will take the ball for Friday’s opener against the Tigers in Detroit for his third straight Opening Day start, becoming the first White Sox pitcher to do so since Mark Buehrle made four straight from 2008-11, and the first right-hander since Jack McDowell from 1991-94.
  • Rangers starter Jon Gray is scheduled to start Friday’s opener against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Gray will be the 13th different pitcher to start an opener for Texas in the last 14 seasons, beginning with 2009. During that span, only Cole Hamels (2016 and 2018) was a two-time Opening Day starter for Texas.
  • 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber will make his third consecutive Opening Day Start when the Guardians take on the Royals in Kansas City. The two-time All-Star will become the 13th pitcher in franchise history to receive three straight Opening Day starts. In doing so, Bieber joins Hall of Famer Bob Feller, CC Sabathia and Willie Mitchell as the only hurlers in franchise history to make three Opening Day starts prior to turning 27 years old.
  • Left-hander Shane McClanahan will become the 15th different Opening Day starter in Rays history. At 24 years and 345 days old, he will be the youngest Opening Day starter used by the Rays since Scott Kazmir (23.068) in 2007. McClanahan, who finished seventh in last year’s AL Rookie of the Year voting, will be the fourth pitcher younger than 25 years old to make an Opening Day start for the Rays, following Kazmir (twice), Dewon Brazelton and Joe Kennedy.
  • New Mariners hurler Robbie Ray is slated to start Seattle’s Opening Day on Friday against the Twins. The offseason acquisition will become the Mariners’ 16th different Opening Day starter, and he follows his rotation-mate Marco Gonzales, who made three straight starts for Seattle on Opening Day from 2019-21.
  • Reds hurler Tyler Mahle will toe the rubber for Thursday’s opener against the Braves in Atlanta. Mahle, who matched the MLB high with 33 starts last year, will become Cincinnati’s sixth Opening Day starter since 2015, following Luis Castillo (2019 and 2021), Sonny Gray (2020), Homer Bailey (2018), Scott Feldman (2017), Raisel Iglesias (2016) and Johnny Cueto (2012-15).
  • The Reds will begin their campaign on Thursday in Atlanta, opening the season on the road for just the third time since 1890. The Reds also opened away from Cincinnati in 1966 and 1990.

Opening Day Active Leaders: Below are the active leaders on Opening Day in a variety of categories:

  • Home Runs: Bryce Harper (5); Evan Longoria (5), Albert Pujols (5); Nelson Cruz (4); Yadier Molina (4); Mike Moustakas (4); Giancarlo Stanton (4)
  • RBI: Albert Pujols (16); Miguel Cabrera (14); Giancarlo Stanton (12); Eric Hosmer (11), Evan Longoria (11); Yadier Molina (11); Joc Pederson (11)
  • Games Started: Justin Verlander (12); Clayton Kershaw (9); Madison Bumgarner (7); Max Scherzer (6), Julio Teheran (6)
  • Wins: Clayton Kershaw (5); Justin Verlander (5); Dallas Keuchel (3); David Price (3); Chris Sale (3)

Postseason Matchups Revisited

  • In a rematch of the 2020 and 2021 National League Championship Series, the Dodgers will host the defending World Champion Braves for a three-game set beginning on Monday, April 18th. The Clubs will meet again in Atlanta for a three-game series beginning on Friday, June 24th.
  • The reigning American League Champion Astros will visit the Red Sox at Fenway Park for a three-game series beginning on Monday, May 16th in a rematch of the 2021 AL Championship Series. The Clubs will also square off for a three-game set in Houston beginning on Monday, August 1st.

Hoping for an Encore: Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani will look to follow-up his historic 2021 season, which resulted in him becoming the 16th recipient of the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award in October.

  • In 2021, Ohtani became the first player in history to become an All-Star as both a pitcher and hitter in the 88-year history of the Midsummer Classic, starting the contest in both capacities.
  • As a hitter, Ohtani posted 103 runs scored, 26 doubles, eight triples, 46 home runs, 100 RBI, 96 walks, 26 stolen bases and a .965 on-base percentage, becoming the only player in Major League history with at least 45 homers, 25 steals and five triples in a single season.
  • On the mound, Ohtani went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 130.1 innings pitched in 23 starts while holding opposing hitters to a .207 batting average.
  • As a two-way player, Ohtani:
  • Became the first pitcher to make multiple starts in a season while leading the Majors in home runs since Hall of Famer Babe Ruth in 1919;
  • Became the first player in Major League history to record at least 10 homers as a hitter and at least 100 strikeouts as a pitcher in the same season;
  • Became the first player in Major League history with at least 20 stolen bases and at least 10 pitching appearances in the same season;
  • Batted for himself in 20 of his 23 pitching starts, becoming the first pitcher ever to hit for himself more than three times in games with a DH available;
  • Made 14 pitching starts while also holding at least a share of the Major League home run lead;
  • Tossed three pitches of at least 100 MPH and hit a 451-foot homer with a 115.2 MPH exit velocity all in the same inning vs. the White Sox on April 4th.

The Machine: Three-time MVP and 10-time All-Star Albert Pujols will begin his 22nd and final Major League season on Thursday. The 42-year-old signed a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, returning to the Club in which he spent the first 11 years of his career.

  • Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol announced that Pujols will be in the Cardinals Opening Day lineup on Thursday, marking his 22nd consecutive career Opening Day lineup (2001-22), surpassing Hall of Famer Stan Musial (21 from 1941-44, 1946-63) and tying Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski (1961-80, 1982-83) and Hank Aaron (1954-64, 1966-76) for second-most all-time in Major League history behind only Pete Rose (23 from 1963-85).
  • Pujols will become just the 69th player in MLB history to appear in at least one game in 22 different seasons. Overall, Pujols ranks 12th on the all-time games played list with 2,971. In his final season, Pujols has the potential to move up to fourth all-time, eclipsing Hall of Famer Dave Winfield (2,973), Barry Bonds (2,986), Hall of Famer Willie Mays (2,992), Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. (3,001), Hall of Famers Eddie Murray and Stan Musial (3,026 each) and Hall of Famer Ty Cobb (3,034).
  • The two-time World Series Champion ranks fifth all-time with 679 career homers, just 21 shy of becoming the fourth player ever to reach 700. Only Barry Bonds (762), Hall of Famer Hank Aaron (755), Hall of Famer Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696) have more homers.
  • Pujols currently ranks 11th all-time with 3,301 hits. Pujols is just 13 hits shy of 3,314, which would put him in the top-10 all-time.
  • Pujols currently sits 28 doubles shy of 700 with 672 career doubles, which ranks fifth all-time. Hall of Famer Ty Cobb ranks fourth on the list with 723.
  • With 2,150 career RBI, Pujols is one of three players to ever eclipse the 2,000-RBI mark, behind all-time leader Hank Aaron (2,297) and ahead of Alex Rodriguez (2,086).
  • Pujols is just 28 runs shy of reaching 1,900 for his career, which would place him 11th all-time. He currently ranks 13th on the all-time list with 1,872 and needs 52 runs scored to move into the top-10 all-time.

Miggy Closing in on 3,000 Hits: Two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers enters the 2022 season just 13 hits shy of reaching 3,000 career hits and becoming just the 33rd player in Major League history to accomplish the feat. 

  • The 38-year-old is also just three doubles shy of 600. He would become just the 18th player to ever reach the mark, and would become just the fifth player in history to reach 500 home runs and 600 doubles, joining Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, David Ortiz and Albert Pujols.

Additional Milestones Within Reach: Several other individual statistical milestones are in reach during the 2022 season:

  • Royals starter and six-time All-Star Zack Greinke is 191 strikeouts away from becoming the 20th pitcher in history to reach 3,000 for his career.
  • A trio of starting pitchers are closing in on 200 career victories, including Max Scherzer (190), Clayton Kershaw (185) and Adam Wainwright (184).
  • Los Angeles Dodgers reliever and eight-time All-Star Craig Kimbrel currently ranks ninth all-time with 372 career saves and is within striking distance of surpassing Joe Nathan (377), Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley (390), Billy Wagner (422) and John Franco (424). Kimbrel is just 28 saves shy of becoming only the seventh pitcher ever to reach 400 career saves.
  • Mets closer Edwin Díaz is 27 saves away from becoming the 53rd pitcher ever reach 200 career saves, while Alex Colomé (155) and Zack Britton (154) follow closely behind.

Merrifield’s Streak: Two-time All-Star second baseman Whit Merrifield of the Royals begins the 2022 campaign having played 469 consecutive games, which is the most in franchise history and the longest active streak in the Majors. According to Elias, it is the longest such streak since Prince Fielder played in 547 straight games from 2010-14.

New Umpires Appointed: Five umpires have been promoted to the full-time Major League staff, including Ryan Additon, Sean Barber, John Libka, Ben May and Roberto Ortiz, who becomes the first Puerto Rican-born umpire ever to join the Major League staff. The new umpires fill the slots left by the retirements of veteran umpires Fieldin Culbreth, Kerwin Danley, Gerry Davis, Brian Gorman and Joe West. In addition, veteran umpires Laz Díaz, Greg Gibson, Marvin Hudson, Ron Kulpa and Bill Welke have been appointed as new crew chiefs.

Technological Innovations

  • New broadcast innovations in 2022 include mixed reality, pose tracking avatars, cloud rendering and weather analysis/visualizations. These technological advancements allow for seamless integration of the “real” and “virtual world,” virtual representations of players driven by Statcast pose tracking data, automated 3D pitch replays delivered from a virtual machine in the cloud and building on a system that captures granular wind data and shows the impact of weather on the game.
  • The MLB Ballpark app now has a contextual home screen that dynamically updates relevant content based on who (the fan is), what (time it is), and where (the fan is), for a seamless transition from home to the ballpark.
  • After MLB.TV’s most-watched season ever, the leading sports OTT added new features that allow viewers to take even more control of their viewing experience. These Baseball-specific details and design enhancements to the live game playback experience include updated game scrubber, milestones and navigation, details view with clickable linescore and batter-pitcher matchup details, and a personalized in-game scoreboard to switch between games.
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