Recapping the 2020 awards season

December 13th, 2020

The 2020 season was unprecedented, but through all of the unique challenges it presented to MLB players and teams, they rose to the occasion and thrilled us with a tremendous 60-game sprint and expanded postseason. With awards season wrapping up earlier this week, here's a breakdown of all the winners and what made their 2020 campaigns so special:

BBWAA Most Valuable Player Award: José Abreu (AL), Freddie Freeman (NL)

Abreu had an incredible 2020 at the plate for the White Sox, hitting .317/.370/.617 with 19 home runs and an MLB-best 60 RBIs in the 60-game season. Anchoring the middle of one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball, he also led MLB in total bases (148), and led the AL in hits (76) and slugging percentage.

Freeman, meanwhile, led baseball with 23 doubles and 51 runs scored over 60 games, slashing .341/.462/.640 with 13 homers to help lead Atlanta to a second straight NL East title. It seemed entering 2020 that it was just a matter of time before he won his first career MVP Award, and that time has come. More >

BBWAA Cy Young Award: Shane Bieber (AL), Trevor Bauer (NL)

It was an Ohio sweep for the 2020 Cy Young Awards.

Bieber, who was introduced to the wider baseball world when he won the All-Star Game MVP Award on his home mound in 2019, ran away with the AL Cy Young Award for the Indians in ’20. The right-hander made history by becoming the fastest pitcher to 100 strikeouts in a season, and struck out eight or more batters in all 12 of his 2020 starts, the second-longest streak of eight or more punchouts to start a season in MLB history behind Randy Johnson’s 15 in 2000. Had he had a full season, Bieber could certainly have challenged the Big Unit’s mark. Overall, he finished with an MLB-best 1.63 ERA and an other-worldy 41 percent strikeout rate.

Bauer proved he’s no one-hit wonder (well, at least in the traditional sense of the saying), bouncing back from a rough 2019 campaign to win his first career Cy Young Award in ’20. He led the NL with a 1.73 ERA, a 276 ERA+ and a 0.80 WHIP. He also struck out 36 percent of the batters he faced in his first full season with the Reds -- not a bad way to head into free agency. More >

BBWAA Rookie of the Year Award: Kyle Lewis (AL), Devin Williams (NL)

Lewis was sensational both at the plate and in the field for the Mariners -- he posted an .801 OPS with 11 homers and sparkled defensively with multiple home run robberies among several highlights in center field. Coming into the season, Lewis was a strong pick to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award, but so was White Sox center fielder Luis Robert. In the end, Robert finished runner-up as Lewis garnered all 30 first-place votes.

In the NL, Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth looked as though he would be the man to beat for Rookie of the Year until he hit a speed bump in the season’s final month and the Brewers’ Williams dominated with his electric fastball and devastating changeup. Though he only pitched 27 innings, Williams was just too dominant to be denied, yielding only one run (0.33 ERA) while striking out an incredible 53 of the 100 batters he faced out of the bullpen. More >

BBWAA Manager of the Year Award: Kevin Cash (AL), Don Mattingly (NL)

With the way the Rays had outperformed expectations in the seasons leading up to 2020, we knew better than to underestimate them. It’s a good thing we didn’t, as Tampa Bay reached the World Series for the second time in franchise history and the first under Cash. Once again defying the odds by getting great performances up and down a roster built with one of the lowest payrolls in the game and surviving a rash of injuries, Cash earned his first career Manager of the Year honor after two straight years in which he was a finalist.

Mattingly, meanwhile, won his first Manager of the Year Award as well after leading the year’s most surprising team. The Marlins not only entered the season in the midst of a rebuild and with a low bar for expectations, they also faced issues with COVID-19 that interrupted their season multiple times. Still, Mattingly led Miami to the postseason for the first time in 17 years. More >

Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter of the Year Award: Marcell Ozuna

Ozuna had a tremendous bounce-back season following two subpar years at the plate. His trajectory was rising with back-to-back All-Star seasons in 2016 and ’17, but stalled before a resurgent 2020. He smashed an NL-leading 18 home runs and drove in a league-best 56 runs while slashing .338/.431/.636 for the NL East champion Braves. As a DH, he hit .362/.464/.691 with 14 of his homers in 39 games, becoming the first NL winner of the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award in its 48-year history. More >

Executive of the Year Award: Andrew Friedman, Dodgers

Following years of near-misses despite fielding an elite roster, Friedman’s Dodgers finally won that elusive and long-anticipated World Series title to end a 32-year drought. Friedman and Los Angeles’ front office simultaneously cultivated a strong farm system and made the biggest splash of last offseason -- dealing for Mookie Betts and then signing him to an extension -- to help push the Dodgers over the top. More >

Gold Glove Awards

The corner infield spots were the most prominent in the NL when it comes to Gold Glove Awards in 2020, with Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado extending his own record for most consecutive Gold Glove Awards to begin an infielder’s career by winning his eighth, and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo picking up his third straight Gold Glove honor and fourth in five years.

Other NL notables include Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts, who collected his fifth straight Gold Glove Award and first since switching leagues from the Red Sox; and Cubs shortstop Javier Báez, who took home his first Gold Glove honor.

In the AL, White Sox rookie phenom Luis Robert won the Gold Glove Award for center field, demonstrating just how good of an all-around player he is after wowing the baseball world with his offense in the Minors. And Royals left fielder Alex Gordon won his eighth and final Gold Glove Award after announcing 2020 would be his last season. More >

Here’s a complete list of 2020 Gold Glove Award winners:

American League

C: Roberto Pérez, Indians (2nd)

1B: Evan White, Mariners (1st)

2B: Cesar Hernandez, Indians (1st)

SS: J.P. Crawford, Mariners (1st)

3B: Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Rangers (1st)

LF: Alex Gordon, Royals (8th)

CF: Luis Robert, White Sox (1st)

RF: Joey Gallo, Rangers (1st)

P: Griffin Canning, Angels (1st)

National League

C: Tucker Barnhart, Reds (2nd)

1B: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs (4th)

2B: Kolten Wong, Cardinals (2nd)

SS: Javier Báez, Cubs (1st)

3B: Nolan Arenado, Rockies (8th)

LF: Tyler O’Neil, Cardinals (1st)

CF: Trent Grisham, Padres (1st)

RF: Mookie Betts, Dodgers (5th)

P: Max Fried, Braves (1st)

Platinum Glove Awards

Arenado took home his fourth Platinum Glove Award, given to the best overall defensive player in each league, and Gordon rode off into the sunset with his second Platinum Glove honor. More >

Team Gold Glove Awards

For the first time, Rawlings awarded a Gold Glove Award for the best defensive team in each league -- the inaugural winners are the Indians in the AL, and the Cubs in the NL. More >

Silver Slugger Awards

Mike Trout won his eighth Silver Slugger Award in nine full seasons, and there were several notable first-time winners, including Tim Anderson, Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Eloy Jiménez and Juan Soto. There were a couple of surprise winners, too -- Giants second baseman Donovan Solano took home his first Silver Slugger honor, and Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud won his first as well following a career-best season at the plate for Atlanta. More >

Here’s the complete list of 2020 Silver Slugger Award winners:

American League

C: Salvador Perez, Royals (3rd)

1B: José Abreu, White Sox (3rd)

2B: DJ LeMahieu, Yankees (2nd)

SS: Tim Anderson, White Sox (1st)

3B: José Ramírez, Indians (3rd)

OF: Mike Trout, Angels (8th)

OF: Teoscar Hernández, Blue Jays (1st)

OF: Eloy Jiménez, White Sox (1st)

DH: Nelson Cruz, Twins (4th)

National League

C: Travis d’Arnaud, Braves (1st)

1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves (2nd)

2B: Donovan Solano, Giants (1st)

SS: Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres (1st)

3B: Manny Machado, Padres (1st)

OF: Juan Soto, Nationals (1st)

OF: Mookie Betts, Dodgers (4th)

OF: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves (2nd)

DH: Marcell Ozuna, Braves (2nd)

All-MLB Team

We didn’t get an All-Star Game in 2020, but while the Midsummer Classic was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the best individual seasons at each position are still recognized through the All-MLB Team presented by CohnReznick.

The star-studded 2020 roster is split into a First Team and Second Team. The selection process featured an impressive group of nominees and started in early November, with 50% of the vote coming from fans and 50% coming from a panel of experts. Fans were able to vote once every 24 hours until 2 p.m. on Nov. 13. Here are all the winners:

First Team

C: Salvador Perez, Royals

1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves

2B: DJ LeMahieu, Yankees

SS: Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres

3B: Manny Machado, Padres

OF: Mookie Betts, Dodgers

OF: Mike Trout, Angels

OF: Juan Soto, Nationals

DH: Marcell Ozuna, Braves

SP: Shane Bieber, Indians

SP: Trevor Bauer, Reds

SP: Yu Darvish, Cubs

SP: Max Fried, Braves

SP: Jacob deGrom, Mets

RP: Liam Hendriks, A’s

RP: Nick Anderson, Rays

Second Team

C: J.T. Realmuto, Phillies

1B: José Abreu, White Sox

2B: Brandon Lowe, Rays

SS: Corey Seager, Dodgers

3B: José Ramírez, Indians

OF: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves

OF: Mike Yastrzemski, Giants

OF: Michael Conforto, Mets

DH: Nelson Cruz, Twins

SP: Dinelson Lamet, Padres

SP: Gerrit Cole, Yankees

SP: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

SP: Kenta Maeda, Twins

SP: Hyun Jin Ryu, Blue Jays

RP: Brad Hand, Indians

RP: Devin Williams, Brewers

All of these players had tremendous campaigns, but some that stand out in particular are the performances from the Padres’ left-side duo of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, as well as resurgent seasons from Marcell Ozuna and Salvador Perez, and an overpowering debut by Devin Williams.

Tatis and Machado dazzled as they typically do defensively, but each also had huge seasons at the plate, with Tatis posting a .937 OPS with 17 homers and 11 steals, and Machado bouncing back from a subpar 2019 campaign with a .950 OPS and 16 homers. The pair led San Diego to its first postseason appearance in 14 years.

Ozuna announced his presence as one of the game’s best sluggers with back-to-back All-Star seasons from 2016-17 for the Marlins. But his next two seasons weren’t nearly as productive at the plate. But the old Ozuna was back in 2020 with the Braves, when he led the NL in home runs (18), RBIs (56) and total bases (145). Perez, meanwhile, had a very successful return after missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, putting up a career-best .986 OPS while belting 11 homers in 37 games.

Williams, the NL Rookie of the Year, struck out an otherworldly 53 of the 100 batters he faced with an electric fastball and devastating changeup. He surrendered just one run over 27 innings (0.33 ERA). More >

Roberto Clemente Award: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

Wainwright has been heavily involved in charity work since 2013, when he put together his first Fantasy Football for Charity event for his foundation, Big League Impact. Seven years and five Roberto Clemente Award nominations later, Wainwright finally won what he described as “the greatest honor of my entire career.” 

Since 2013, Wainwright has worked through his foundation to raise more than $5.8 million for charitable causes, both locally and internationally. Among them are an initiative that feeds 200 families a year in St. Louis and 300,000 overall across the country, a secondary school and clean water program in Haiti, and a clinic and dairy/crop farm in Ethiopia. Wainwright has also made his foundation a conduit for getting other players around baseball started in charity work of their own.

“Part of maturing as a man and a human in this world, and also maturing in my faith, is that understanding as you get going, it’s more about other people than it is about yourself,” Wainwright said. “... It becomes less about what can I do for me and more about what I can do for others.” More >

Hank Aaron Award: José Abreu (AL), Freddie Freeman (NL)

A pair of slugging first basemen were named 2020 Most Valuable Players by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, and they were also honored with their respective league’s Hank Aaron Award for best overall offensive player. And while you might think it is common for the MVPs in a season to also take home the Aaron Awards, 2020 marked only the fourth time since the Award’s inception in 1999 that the same players swept the awards.

Abreu is the first Cuban-born player to win the Aaron Award.

“Just knowing what [Aaron] did as a baseball player and as a person and being able to receive this award is something that makes me very excited and humbled,” Abreu said through interpreter Billy Russo. “I am honored.”

Freeman became only the second Braves player to win the award that bears the name of the most iconic player in franchise history, joining Andruw Jones, who won the honor in 2005.

“When you get to put that uniform on every day -- the same uniform [Aaron] put on for 23 years -- it means so much more to win this award,” Freeman said. “It’s just even more special that he gets to come around and share his wisdom of the game with us. He’s been present a lot in the last few years, and that just makes this more special.” More >

Comeback Player of the Year Award: Salvador Perez (AL), Daniel Bard (NL)

Perez missed the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery, and then returned to put together the most offensively prolific season of his career in '20. Known primarily for his glove behind the plate, the five-time Gold Glove Award winner posted a .986 OPS with 11 homers in 37 games for the Royals. And he did that after missing Summer Camp due to contracting COVID-19 and then three weeks during the season with blurred vision.

Bard’s was the feel-good story of the season -- after establishing himself as one of the most dominant relievers in the game by 2010, injuries and mechanical issues derailed him, and while trying to work his way back to the Majors in subsequent years, he developed a severe case of the yips. He retired as a player in 2017, becoming a player mentor for the D-backs. But he decided to give it one more shot at age 35, and had a tremendous 2020 campaign for the Rockies, posting a 3.65 ERA (145 ERA+) behind a fastball that touched triple digits. More >

Baseball Hall of Fame 2021 Ford C. Frick Award: Al Michaels

Michaels has been one of the most distinguished broadcasters in all of sports over the past half-century, and his versatility has led to some of the greatest calls in history, including the “Do you believe in miracles?!” moment for the 1980 U.S. Hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice.” But baseball holds a special place in his heart, being the sport in which he got his big break in 1971, when he joined the Reds’ broadcast booth. He then did play-by-play for NBC (1972), the Giants (1974-76), ABC (1976-89), and The Baseball Network (1995).

Among Michaels’ most memorable moments are his call of Dave Henderson’s clutch home run for the Red Sox against the Angels in the 1986 ALCS, and his reporting in the immediate aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake that interrupted the 1989 World Series between the A’s and Giants in San Francisco.

The Frick Award, voted on by a panel of 12 living Frick Award recipients and three broadcast historians/columnists, is given annually for “commitment to excellence, quality of broadcasting abilities, reverence within the game, popularity with fans and recognition by peers.” Michaels will be inducted into the broadcasters wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on July 24. More >

Baseball Hall of Fame 2021 J.G. Taylor Spink Award: Dick Kaegel

Kaegel spent more than 50 years as a sportswriter and editor, and was's Royals beat writer from 2004-14. He was also the editor-in-chief of The Sporting News from 1979-85, as well as Cardinals beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Royals beat writer for the Kansas City Star during his distinguished career.

A shining example of longevity and fortitude, Kaegel covered all 162 games of the Royals' 2011 season for just a few years after receiving a liver transplant due to liver cancer. He will be presented with the highest honor a baseball journalist can receive, awarded annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing." The ceremony will take place during this July's Baseball Hall of Fame induction weekend in Cooperstown. More >