If 2022 wasn’t enough of an encore performance for Los Angeles Angels two-way star, Shohei Ohtani, he, and his teammates took home some awards from Baseball America’s Best Tools voting.
The American League West had candidates up and down the list, but besides Ohtani, Andrew Velazquez, and David Fletcher also received recognition from those around Major League baseball. Baseball America tallies votes from managers, coaches, scouts, and front-office executives around the league to determine winners of respective categories.
Last season, Ohtani became the darling of baseball with both his infectious love for the game and his play made him deserving of the MVP award. His peers voted him as the ‘Most Exciting Player in the A.L., as well as having the No. 1 changeup in the league.
In his first year with the Angels, Andrew Velazquez was voted as the ‘best defensive shortstop’ and as it stands on Aug. 30, he has a 14 defensive runs saved metric, and has a five in OAA. ‘Squid’ has made quite the impression across the league and it hasn’t gone unnoticed when he mans the middle infield.
In his return from injury, David Fletcher was named ‘best hit-and-run artist’, something that fits perfectly with his incredible barrel control and ability to contact rate.
In other categories, Ohtani ranked 3rd for ‘best power’, and 2nd for ‘best baserunner.’
Mike Trout didn’t finish within the top 3 of any category, much to do with his inconsistent numbers this season and the back injury that hindered him for a decent period of time.
Velazquez credits change in approach led to improvements
For months, Velazquez was sticking in the Angels lineup because of his defense. He was — by every metric — the Angels’ best defender, especially in the infield. As injuries to David Fletcher and Anthony Rendon piled up, his consistent presence at shortstop was a welcomed sight for Halos pitchers.
However, he remained in the lineup despite abysmal numbers at the plate. Through Aug. 8, Velazquez was batting .173 with a .477 OPS and had just one hit in his previous nine games. But recently, things have started to click in his batting approach.
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