The MLB awards that should be given out

It's superlative time

November 12th, 2020

You thought awards season was over, didn't you? You thought all the trophies had been handed out, the silverware dispersed, the Zoom press conferences turned off and you were about to enter into the darkness of the winter before baseball returns in the spring.

Well, you're wrong. Because there are so many more awards that need to be handed out. Sure, they may not be as fancy or famous, and there are no prizes to be given out (though if any players ask, I'll throw them a code for $5 off their next online delivery order) -- but they're honors that are bestowed on players who brought us joy and happiness and delight from the difficult 2020 season.

Here are 10 completely necessary MLB Awards:

Mr. October 2020: Randy Arozarena

Seriously, there needs to be an award handed out every year to the player who so fully captivates us during baseball's most stressful time. And this year, there's simply no choice but Arozarena. The Rays' newest star went full supernova -- basically becoming the human version of the sunburst in the Rays' logo. He smashed 10 dingers, drove in 14 runs and hit .377 once the games really started to count. He terrified pitchers simply by being near the field. Arozarena's celebrations even seemed to say, "I can't believe I'm doing this."

While it seems impossible for a repeat act next year, we'll always have this one crazy month.

The Cy Dunn Award for Best Position Player Pitcher: Todd Frazier

Position players took the mound 35 times in 2020 (Shohei Ohtani doesn't count). And yet, only one player kept the opposition off the board while recording at least one strikeout. And that person is also baseball's reigning New Jersey Citizen of the Year Award Winner, Todd Frazier.

The ToddFather made his pitching debut against the Braves on Sept. 18 in the Mets' 15-2 loss. Entering in the top of the ninth, Frazier threw a mixture of mid-50s knucklers and high-60s fastballs, which was enough to get Dansby Swanson to fly out to start the frame. He then struck out Adam Duvall and ended the inning by inducing a lineout from Austin Riley. It was his greatest pitching performance since he took the mound in the 1998 Little League World Series final.

Best quarantine mustache: Enrique Hernández

Sure, he shaved it off before the postseason because that's a time to be serious (it's either that or his hand slipped while he was trimming one day -- we've all been there). But just as all of us at home got through the summer by experimenting with facial hair or started giving ourselves haircuts, Hernández did the same. He grew out a nice, thick mustache -- something that Tom Selleck could have respected.

Even better, when Hernández paired it with shades, he really did look the part of a 1980s action star. He even would smooth it down to celebrate dingers while rounding the bases.

There's not a whole lot that should be repeated from 2020 next year, but oh, how I hope this comes back.

The Sophomore: Zac Gallen

Rookies get all the accolades, but plenty of ballplayers miss out on the hype they deserve simply because it took them a little more time to make their mark. That's certainly the case for the D-backs' Zac Gallen. The starter was strong in 2019, posting a 2.81 ERA across 15 starts with the Marlins and D-backs. He didn't receive any Rookie of the Year consideration that year which, OK, fine. He didn't throw a ton of innings, and the midseason trade may have kept him from voters' minds.

Well, he repeated his performance this season. Gallen threw 72 innings with a 2.75 ERA -- basically mirroring Gerrit Cole's numbers -- and he continued to strike out more than a batter per inning. Over the last two years, his ERA is sixth in the Majors among all pitchers with at least 130 innings. That's ahead of Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Shane Bieber to name just a few.

Meme of the Year: Cody Bellinger

You know how in Pixar movies there are always those jokes that the kids don't get, but the parents do? That's how I'm going to treat the Bellinger memes from the postseason. If you even came close to a computer during the Dodgers' World Series run, you likely saw one of these. And they were all hilarious.

(This is also the time to remind you that Bryce Harper pronounces the word memes as "May-Mays.")

Mr. Whiff: Miguel Sanó

Listen, I don't mean to make fun of Sanó. He's got some serious pop -- tying for second on the extremely homer hanky-happy Twins team this year with 13 dingers. But even as the game no longer stigmatizes strikeouts, the Twins' first baseman whiffed at a genuinely legendary rate. Sanó K'd 90 times in just 186 at-bats -- nearly half the time!

To put Sanó's numbers in some kind of context, Tony Gwynn struck out 93 times across his first four big league seasons, totaling 1,722 at-bats. Sure, that's a different era and Gwynn was one of the greatest bat-on-ball players in history, but still!

Perhaps most shocking: Sanó faced Brewers' Rookie of the Year Award winner Devin Williams for two plate appearances this year. Though Williams struck out an absurd 53 percent of batters this year, he didn't fan Sanó. The Twins' slugger walked and grounded into a double play against Williams.

Greatest Gravitational Pull: Willson Contreras

In four previous (and full) seasons, Contreras had never been hit more than 13 times. So, of course, in a 60-game campaign, Contreras established a personal "best" (not sure that's how the Cubs catcher would classify it) with 14 plunkings to lead the league. To put that in perspective, his teammate, Anthony Rizzo, led the league with 27 HBP last season. Contreras' full-season pace would put him at 38, which would rank second all-time behind Ron Hunt's 50 in 1971.

The Flash: Adalberto Mondesi

With apologies to Tim Locastro, who posted the fastest sprint speed of 30.7 feet per second this year, Mondesi is the one who put his legs to the most use this season. Not only did he practically lap the field in stolen bases -- Mondesi's 24 was a full third better than second-place Jonathan Villar's 16 -- but he also was as good a guarantee to run since the 1980s heyday when Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson were tearing up the basepaths.

Over 50 percent of the time that Mondesi had an open base ahead of him, he was running. No one else was even close.

Mondesi's 24 steals also had him on pace to swipe 65 bases in a full season -- something that hasn't been accomplished since Juan Pierre stole 68 in 2010.

Legacy made: Clayton Kershaw

With apologies to Albert Pujols -- who passed Willie Mays for fifth all time on the home run leaderboard this summer -- this one belongs to Kershaw. The Dodgers lefty is a near-lock first-ballot Hall of Famer. His curveball may have its own nickname and he has enough silverware that he likely needs an entire wing of his house to store them all. But despite all that, some fans continued to point to his struggles in the postseason: His poor starts, his unsightly October ERA, the Dodgers' continued early exits.

Well, that's not a concern anymore. Kershaw not only got the trophy that had eluded him for so long, but he did it with a dominant postseason, too. Though his fastball doesn't tick up quite as high as it used to, Kershaw still struck out 37 batters, walked only five, and posted a 2.93 ERA. You can now call him the GOAT, 100% certified.

Mr. Sleepy: Nelson Cruz

For once, my Sunday afternoon habits and a big leaguer's intersect. Only difference is when I wake up from a nap, I'm groggy. When Cruz does it, he crushes dingers.