Spring Training is under way and MLBbros are already making an impact. As we always do about this time, here’s our Top 10 Black and brown players entering the 2023 MLB season.
1. Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge sits atop the throne as the best MLBbro in the game entering 2023 after launching an American League record 62 home runs and narrowly missing out on becoming the 16th player to win a Triple Crown.
The 2022 season for Judge will go down as one of the greatest single seasons for any professional athlete in sports history. He led the Majors in almost every offensive category and played a Gold Glove caliber center field with all eyes on him. Over the off-season Judge earned himself a nine-year $360 million deal with the Yankees in addition to becoming the team’s first captain since the retirement of Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.
2. Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts has been one of the most consistent players in the Majors since his debut in 2014.
Since then, he’s accrued seven consecutive All-Star appearances, an MVP, a 30-30 season, six Gold Gloves and five Silver Slugger Awards.
Last year Betts, who will be representing the culture for Team USA in this year’s World Baseball Classic had his best season since he became a Dodger in 2020. He hit 35 home runs and slugged .533 with 82 RBI.
3. Triston “Dr. Sticks” McKenzie
Triston McKenzie is one of the top young arms in the game and he comes into 2023 with a puncher’s chance to become the first Black pitcher to win the Cy Young Award since David Price in 2012.
Mckenzie posted a 2.96 ERA and 190 strikeouts in 2022 and allowed a batting average against of .201. All of those put him in the top 10 amongst all Major League pitchers.
4. Tim Anderson
Tim Anderson is the unspoken hero and originator of the “Let the kids play” movement and like wine he will continue to get better with time.
Anderson, who won the Major League batting title in 2019 did not play competitive baseball until his junior year of high school, started for the American League at shortstop in last year’s All-Star Game.
He has hit over .300 for four consecutive seasons and will join Betts in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA.
5. Marcus Semien
Marcus Semien won the inaugural 2021 MLBbro Player of the Year Award for his record breaking 2021 which saw him hit 45 home runs, the most ever by a second baseman. Despite a slow start at the plate, Semien who led the American League in games played and at-bats, stole a career-high 25 bases.
His 81 RBI, five triples, 26 home runs, 31 doubles and 162 hits were all top four among his position peers.
6. Cedric “CM Storm” Mullins
Cedric Mullins is a five-tool player and is living proof that size does not measure heart in baseball. In 2021, the 5-foot-8 Mullins became the first Baltimore Oriole to join the 30/30 club.
Last season Mullins’ career-high 34 steals were the third most in baseball and he was one of the main catalysts for the massive and somewhat unexpectedly quick turnaround for the O’s franchise. He will also be joining Team USA during the World Baseball Classic.
7.” Money” Michael Harris
The 2022 National League Rookie of the Year took the Majors by storm with his combination of power and speed on offense to go along with being one of the best defenders in baseball.
Last year Harris finished with both 20 home runs and 20 steals, so with a full season and experience under his belt he will look to join Mullins as a member of the 30/30 club.
8. Jazz Chisholm Jr.
Jazz Chisholm AKA “The Bahamian Blur” is one of the most explosive players in the Majors and will become the first Bahamian born athlete to be on a video game cover when he graces the cover of MLB The Show 2023. Before a back injury ended his 2022 campaign, Chisholm, who was named an All-Star, led Miami in almost every offensive category.
Let’s shock the system! 🎷😎 Introducing Jazz Chisholm as the cover athlete for MLB The Show 23.
Devin Williams “Airbender” changeup is one of the nastiest pitches in baseball and it has helped him rise into the conversation of best closer in the Majors.
Williams became the Brewers full-time closer after last season’s trade deadline, finishing with 15 saves, 96 strikeouts and a 1.93 ERA. Williams is the only Black pitcher on the roster for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
10. Byron Buxton
The difference between being ranked at 10 and being in the top three is simply availability for Byron Buxton. Big Bux has played less than 100 games every year since 2017 due to different injuries, but when in the lineup, he stands as one of the best all-around players in the Majors.
He showed what he can do against the league’s best when he hit the game-winning home run in Los Angeles during his first career All-Star Game.
World Series champion Mookie Betts and All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson highlight the group of four #MLBbros representing the United States in the World Baseball Classic.
Mookie Betts is coming off his seventh consecutive All-Star season which saw him win his sixth Gold Glove and fifth Silver Slugger award.
A top five player in all of baseball, Betts is a lethal weapon on offense and defense and his versatility will be key in USA’s quest for a second straight Gold Medal. MLBbros Marcus Stroman, Andrew McCutchen and Adam Jones led Team USA to the last WBC title in 2017.
That highlighted Anderson’s first career batting championship and since then, he has built himself into one of the Majors top shortstops. Anderson started for the American League in the All-Star Game last season and was the cover boy for RBI Baseball 2021. He will split playing time with Trea Turner of the Philadelphia Phillies during Pool Play, but Anderson’s ability with the bat makes him a perfect candidate for the Designated Hitter role.
The leader of one of the most exciting teams in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles, Mullins who stands just 5’8 became the first player in their franchises history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season back in 2021 and finished third in the Majors with 34 steals last year.
Mullins will be following in the footsteps of former Orioles All-Star outfielder Jones whose home run robbery in an elimination game in the 2017 Classic against The Dominican Republic was the play of the tournament.
The only Black pitcher on the U.S. roster has a chance to stamp himself the best reliever in the sport.
Known as “The Airbender” for having one of the greatest changeups ever, Devin Williams has been one of the most dominant relievers since 2020 when he won the National League’s Rookie of the Year. Most of his innings have come while in the setup role, but after the Brewers traded Josh Hader his job description changed to closer.
In three seasons, Williams has 250 strikeouts and a solid career ERA standing at 2.03. He will have his chance in the spotlight as he will be called on to get out some of baseball’s greatest talents with world supremacy on the line.
Seattle Mariners captain J.P. Crawford helped lead the team to their first playoff appearance in 21 years. It ended a streak of futility which was the longest in major North American pro sports.
Now, after setting a new standard in the Emerald City, Crawford will look to elevate the franchise to true contender in 2023. With the additions of young stars like 2022 Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez, the missing piece to a championship run is an offensive elevation by their web master.
During their last series of the season, Crawford was officially given the captain role after the retirement of longtime Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager.
Seattle Mariners Finish Strong
The Mariners got off to a slow start in the win column, but Crawford was one of a few players who helped keep a new roster above water until they gelled. He was among the Major League leaders in batting average, on base percentage, runs, OPS and WAR along with his teammate Ty France. Crawford was playing so well it felt almost certain he would get to participate in his first ever All-Star Game in his hometown of Los Angeles.
However, one Sunday afternoon in late June put a halt to those plans.
J.P. Crawford Involved In Wild Brawl
The game took place in Anaheim between the Mariners and the team that ultimately defeated them in that final series of 2021, the Angels. Throughout recent years — and even this season — multiple players, including former first round pick Justin Upton were hit with pitches; his, a fastball to the head a little under two weeks before hand.
With tensions already high, the Angels decided to use an “Opener” to hit a Mariners batter in the back to begin an inning.
Back-and-forth talk between outfielder Jesse Winker and the Angels bench began, which led to Winker charging towards their dugout. A fight ensued as the benches cleared and fists were being thrown until Crawford came into the scuffle to throw an overhand right in defense of his teammate.
“I always tell them, I got their back,” Crawford told reporters the next day. “Just know that I have got your back. When stuff hits the fan, I am going to be the first one out there every time. I am going to do that 10 times out of 10. I have always got my boys back.”
It was one of the biggest brawls in recent Major League Baseball history as a total of eight people were suspended including Crawford who was sentenced to five games.
Although that seemed to end the 2020 Gold Glove winning shortstops All-Star bid, it also lit a fire under the entire clubhouse and sparked the team. Seattle ended up winning 90 games to clinch a wildcard spot and end their 21-year playoff drought.
In the playoffs, the Mariners swept the powerhouse Blue Jays and set themselves up in a matchup against their division rivals in Dusty Baker and the Astros. In Game one, the Mariners pummeled Astros starter Justin Verlander and Crawford had a major blow with a huge home run off the former Cy Young winner.
The Astros would end up winning the game and taking the series 3-0, but Crawford along with his group of young superstars showed the bright lights of October will not bother them.
Crawford ended the season batting .243 with six home runs, a .339 OBP and 24 doubles. In all it was a successful 2022 for J.P. Crawford. Elevation is the key to success.
Despite Houston Astros Jeremy Pena’s strong rookie campaign in which the baby bomber won a World Series and a Gold Glove, we still consider J.P. to be the best defensive shortstop in the Majors. Crawford will, however, have to raise his average and on base percentage if he wants his name solidified as an all-around elite player at his position, especially in a stacked American League.
New York, your king is returning to his throne. He’s been more like MLB’s king after his record-breaking 2022. Aaron Judge’s bet on himself led to him having the single greatest regular season in MLB history and inking a 9-year $360 million deal to stay a Yankee.
The deal is the third-highest total value for a contract in Major League history and will give Judge the “Captain C” on his jersey, making him the first Yankee to hold that title since Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter retired.
Judge became the face of Major League Baseball in 2022 after hitting an American League record 62 home runs and leading the Majors in nearly every offensive category: all this while he was shining in center field and batting leadoff, both of which he had never done.
His hometown team, the San Francisco, were one of three favorites to bring in the newly crowned home run champion. They pulled out all recruiting stops including a $360 million contract and the services of should be Hall of Famer Barry Bonds whose 762 are the most by a player in their career.
The San Diego Padres were the third team in pursuit of Judge. They have not been shy about making big moves over the past few seasons, giving huge deals to Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., while making a blockbuster trade last deadline when they acquired Juan Soto and Josh Bell from the Nationals.
They offered Judge $400… yes $400 million, but he ultimately turned it down to return to the Bronx.
When this year began, Judge made it clear he would not be handling any contract negotiations during the season.
The Yankees leaked their final offer shortly after Opening Day, which was only around $213 million. Rumors came out that Judge was not happy about that, but in the end he never swayed and stayed quiet throughout the process.
He never told anyone what his price was or what other options he would take if he left, he only showed up to the ballpark and put in work.
“Whatever he gets is going to be astronomical and he deserves it,” said teammate Anthony Rizzo, who is also returning to the Yankees in 2023.
“He bet on himself on the biggest stage, in the biggest market and did it with ease. He should be rewarded as the highest-paid player in the game. He is the gold standard.”
We will never forget the 2022 season Aaron Judge had or this off-season where he made one of the biggest decisions in MLB history, but now a second phase to his career begins. Championship expectations are always high in New York. Whether you are winning MVPs or going through a slump, those fans want results and will let players know about it.
Some have and will continue to fold under that pressure, but Judge welcomes it and will, for what appears to be the rest of his career. Now he is on a quest to not only bring a World Series to the Bronx for the first time since 2009, but to become a hands down member of the “GREATEST Yankees of All-Time” list.