By Matthew Wong
In a season like no other, Major League Baseball (MLB) concluded a shortened 2020 season with its annual awards. Traditionally, four awards are distributed every season, with each being given to one player from the National (NL) and American (AL) Leagues. The Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award is handed to the most outstanding all-around player of each league, and the Cy Young Award is given to a league’s best performing pitcher. The Rookie of the Year Award is bestowed upon the season’s best two players who are playing their first season in the MLB, while the Manager of the Year Award is awarded to the two best managers, one from each league. Each winner is chosen by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
MLB’s MVP Award is the most prestigious award a player can earn. This year, Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman and Chicago White Sox’s José Abreu took home the title. After missing most of the preseason as a result of COVID-19, Freeman played an outstanding season and led his team to the best record in the NL East division. The California native was vital to securing the Braves’ postseason spot, leading the MLB in runs scored (51) and finishing 2nd in the league’s on-base plus slugging percentage (1.102). He was also 2nd in the NL for batting average (.341), on-base percentage (.462), and slugging percentage (.640). The AL MVP, José Abreu also had a stellar season, bringing the White Sox to their first playoff appearance in 12 years. Abreu led the majors in runs batted in (60) and led the AL in hits (76) and slugging percentage (.617). The 33-year-old Cuban also finished second in the MLB for home runs (19).
Every pitcher’s dream is to take home the Cy Young Award, one named after the winningest pitcher in MLB history. This award goes to the best overall pitcher in each league. With only 60 games in a condensed season, Trevor Bauer of the Cincinnati Reds and Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians proved their worth. In the NL, Bauer became the first Reds player to win the Cy Young Award leading the National League in earned run average (1.73) and walks plus hits per innings pitched (0.795). He also ranked second in the league for strikeouts (100). In the other league, Shane Bieber made history by becoming the first unanimous AL Cy Young Award winner since 2011. He was utterly dominant, as he led the majors in earned run average (1.63) and strikeouts per nine innings (14.2), while also setting an MLB record with a 41.1% strikeout rate.
Despite the difficulty of being a new player in the MLB, especially in 2020, rookies Devin Williams of the Milwaukee Brewers and Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners thrived, both taking home the Rookie of the Year honor. Williams was lights out for the entire season as a relief pitcher, allowing only one run in 27 innings pitched for an earned run average of 0.33. He is also the first relief pitcher to win this award since 2011. Lewis led his team in batting average, home runs, and runs scored. His recurring appearances on highlight reels and top 10 plays also attributes to his versatility as a player.
The Coach of the Year Award was given to two coaches from MLB’s Floridian teams. In the NL, Miami Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly took home the honor, while Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays was the recipient of the AL award. Mattingly guided the Marlins to their first winning season since 2009 and helped navigate a potentially disastrous situation with the Marlins suffering MLB's first major coronavirus outbreak. Cash and his statistical approach to the game led the Rays to their first AL East title since 2010, with a 40-20 record and a World Series appearance.
The players and coaches rightfully earned their respective awards. Hopefully, next year baseball will return to a full 162-game season that will allow fans to cheer for their teams in person.
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