Installment #5: MLB Postseason Awards
It has been just over two weeks since I've last posted. Way too long in my opinion but a lot has taken place these past sixteen days or so. Two weekends ago for starters, I was fortunate enough to attend the Annual Writers Digest Conference which I believe was a good move for my writing career. While I was in one of the sessions at the virtual conference, the people of the United States of America elected the nation's 46th President. And somehow, some way, sports continue to keep rolling despite increasing COVID-19 cases.
On October 28, the Los Angeles Dodgers emerged as World Series champions when they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in six games. Immediately, the push toward next season and next year's champion began with Major League Baseball's offseason and free agency periods. But before and during these times, some of 2020's best players were recognized for their talent and team leadership. I’m talking about the MLB Postseason Awards. Just these last couple of weeks, the National League and the American League most valuable players, the NL and AL Cy Young winners, and the NL and AL rookies of the year were picked. I for one am proud to announce that an Atlanta Braves player is among this distinguished class of baseball elites.
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman won the National League Most Valuable Player Award for the pandemic-shortened 2020 MLB season. After missing a few games at the start of the year while battling the coronavirus himself, Freeman ended with a .341 batting average. He had 13 home runs, 53 runs batted in, and an on-base percentage of .462. He was a big reason why the Braves were within one game of appearing in the World Series and is the first Atlanta player to win this particular accolade since Chipper Jones won it in 1999. One can only wonder what is next for the future Hall of Famer? This is his first MVP trophy since he made his major league debut with the Atlanta Braves in the 2010 season.
Jose Abreu got the nod for the American League most valuable player. The Chicago White Sox first baseman had a batting average of .317, he hit 19 home runs, and knocked in 60 runs in just 60 games. The Cuban-born baseball great had an on-base percentage of .370. I myself did not catch many White Sox games this year. But they did make the playoffs for the first time since the mid-2000's, and in the playoff games I did get to listen to, Abreu was always a major factor. Even beyond his impressive statistics.
The Cy Young Award is given each year to the two best pitchers in Major League Baseball, an American League pitcher and a National League pitcher. The award was first introduced by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in 1956 in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, who died in 1955 at the age of 88. This season, Trevor Bauer of the Cincinnati Reds won the award for the National League. Bauer had a record of five wins and four losses, but posted an earned run average of 1.73. He is the first Cincinnati Reds player to ever win the Cy Young Award.
Staying in the state of Ohio, the Cleveland Indians' Shane Bieber bagged the award for the American League. Bieber had a record of 8-1 and an ERA of 1.63 for the Tribe. This was Shane Bieber's third season since making his major league debut with the Indians in 2018. The Orange, California-born pitcher quickly rose to prominence, being selected to the AL All-star team in 2019, just his second campaign. This year, he takes home this coveted pitcher's prize. He has already accomplished a great deal in his young career and I think he is due even more recognition in years to come.
A couple of up-and-coming players were recognized for their potential. Seattle Mariners right fielder Kyle Lewis was named the Rookie of the Year for the American League. Lewis batted .259, hit 11 home runs, had 28 RBI, and ended his initial MLB campaign with an on-base percentage of .363. National League Rookie of the Year honors go to the relief pitcher Devin Williams. Williams had a record of 4-1 and an ERA of just 0.33 for the Milwaukee Brewers.
I just wanted to take some time to recognize some of Major League Baseball's greats in this weird, but memorable 2020 season. In the coming weeks, trades will be made, managers (MLB-speak for coaches) along with other front office personnel will be fired and hired, and lots of things will happen before it is spring training for the 2021 baseball season. I will be interested to find out whether the Dodgers will repeat, or will there be a new champion of the baseball world come next October. Maybe Freddie Freeman and the Braves can continue their upward trajectory and once again bring a World Series trophy back to the ATL. Wishful thinking? I guess we will see.