Cutest Couple: Alek Manoah and Alejandro Kirk
Maybe this isn’t the proper term, but honestly battery mates and couples are pretty much the same thing. In his first full season in the majors, Alek Manoah broke out in a big way, finishing third in AL ERA at 2.24, and fourth in innings with 196.2. He topped this all off with an AL Pitcher of the Month award in September and is likely to earn some CY Young votes come November. Alejandro Kirk also broke out this year, as he had an elite first half of the season and was named the starting catcher for AL All-Star team, before cooling off in the second half. Despite this, his 126 OPS+ still led all qualified AL catchers and solidified himself as one of baseball’s best young backstops.
So why do these two get cutest couple? As I mentioned, Manoah pitched 196.2 innings this season and for 190 of them, Alejandro Kirk was behind the dish. For most of the season, Kirk and Danny Jansen rotated as the team’s starting catcher, but for 30 of Manoah’s 31 starts, Kirk was the guy. If you asked most Jays fans who they would want calling a game behind the plate, they would probably say Jansen, but whenever the ace took the mound, it was Kirk who he wanted.
This award does specify that you can’t just be a couple though, but you must, in fact, be the cutest couple. I doubt there is a single person that would argue that fact, as Kirk became possibly the most beloved Blue Jay last season, and when Kirk was criticized for his weight on Twitter, it was Manoah that came to his defence. No one endeared themselves to Jays fans more in 2022 than Manoah and Kirk, so they were a shoe-in for this award.