By Jacob Gurvis
NEW YORK — After two pandemic-altered seasons, a three-month lockout and a truncated free agent frenzy, the 2022 Major League Baseball season is finally here.
Here is a rundown of what Jewish fans can look for in 2022.
Max Fried, Atlanta Braves pitcher:
Fried is the ace of the defending champions. He is coming off a 2021 season in which he won his second consecutive Gold Glove award, given to the league’s best defensive pitcher, and his first Silver Slugger award for best hitting pitcher — he will likely be the last to ever win that award as a pitcher, as a universal designated hitter will be introduced this season. Fried also pitched his Braves to a World Series win.
Alex Bregman, Houston Astros third baseman:
Staying healthy is at the top of this slugger’s to-do list in 2022. The Albuquerque native played in only 91 games for Houston last year, but he will look to return to form this season — a form that included back-to-back top-five finishes in the American League Most Valuable Player races, in 2018 and 2019, when he hit 31 and 41 home runs, respectively.
Joc Pederson, San Francisco Giants outfielder:
The Giants are hoping Pederson’s World Series streak continues in 2022 — the flashy outfielder won rings the last two years, for the Dodgers and then the Braves. Pederson will now be playing for Jewish manager Gabe Kapler, who won the National League’s top manager award last year after guiding the Giants to a historic 107-win season.
Rowdy Tellez, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman and designated hitter:
Tellez is entering his first full season in Milwaukee after being traded by Toronto last July. The lefty has some pop — he hit 21 homers in 2019 — and will look to find a groove in his third full season in the big leagues.
Dean Kremer, Baltimore Orioles pitcher:
The first Israeli to sign a MLB contract, the young righthander is starting the season with the club in Baltimore. He only has 17 big-league games under his belt with an earned-run average near 7 — the league leaders hover around 2.5-3 — so Kremer will have to prove himself to keep his spot.
Richard Bleier, Miami Marlins pitcher:
Entering his seventh season, Bleier has proven to be a solid relief pitcher, sporting a career 2.96 ERA. The soon-to-be 35-year-old signed a two-year extension with Miami during spring training.
Scott Effross, Chicago Cubs pitcher:
Effross made his Major League debut last season, and made his first Opening Day roster for the Cubs this season. The 28-year-old righty had a strong spring.
Eli Morgan, Cleveland Guardians pitcher:
Morgan is another young reliever who made his debut in 2021, starting 18 games for Cleveland after his call-up in May. Morgan will begin 2022 in the bullpen.
Garrett Stubbs, Philadelphia Phillies catcher:
After appearing in the World Series with Houston last season, Stubbs has moved over to Philly to become the backup to one of the game’s better catchers, J. T. Realmuto.