The grand finale of Major League Baseball in 2017 has arrived. Somehow, even after all the drama that we witnessed from April through November in a magnificent season, there's one more dramatic moment to behold for baseball fans everywhere.The last group of honors, the Esurance MLB Awards, will be given
The grand finale of Major League Baseball in 2017 has arrived. Somehow, even after all the drama that we witnessed from April through November in a magnificent season, there's one more dramatic moment to behold for baseball fans everywhere.
The last group of honors, the Esurance MLB Awards, will be given out tonight beginning at 8 ET on MLB Network and MLB.com to cap a fantastic 2017 season. And, as is the case every year, they will span a wide-ranging field of accomplishments -- both traditional and modern -- that also account for the recent postseason.
• VIEW NOMINEES: Esurance MLB Awards | Complete 2017 Awards coverage
The show, hosted by Brian Kenny and Carlos Pena, will run the gamut of awards that were selected with equal input from five groups of experts, including fans. The hardware will be hauled in by winners in 15 categories, including Best Major Leaguer, Best Pitcher, Best Rookie, Best Defensive Player, Best Manager and a whole lot more.
Here's a rundown of what to watch for and the finalists heading into the big reveals:
Best Major Leaguer
If there ever were a defining three players from the 2017 season, it's this group of nominees that separated itself from the pack, including both newly crowned league MVPs -- Astros second baseman and American League MVP Jose Altuve (.346/.410/.547, 24 home runs, 81 RBIs, 32 stolen bases, 204 hits, seven postseason homers) and Marlins slugger and National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton (MLB-leading 59 homers and 132 RBIs, plus a 1.007 OPS) -- as well as Yankees slugger, AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up Aaron Judge (rookie-record 52 homers, 114 RBIs, 1.049 OPS).
AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber of the Indians (18-4, 2.25 ERA, 265 strikeouts in 203 2/3 innings, 0.87 WHIP, three shutouts, five complete games, 1.62 ERA over final 23 starts) and NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer of the Nationals (16-6, 2.51 ERA, 268 strikeouts in 200 2/3 innings, 0.90 WHIP) head the bill here. But don't forget about veteran righty Justin Verlander, who went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA down the stretch in Houston after arriving in an August trade from Detroit, then won AL Championship Series MVP honors by going 2-0 with an 0.56 ERA in his team's seven-game win over the Yankees. He also struck out 14 batters in 12 innings in the World Series.
Both BBWAA Rookie of the Year Award winners took their crowns unanimously, and both are nominees to take home more honors. Judge represents the AL in this category along with Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who was a terrific all-around performer with 20 homers, 20 stolen bases, 90 RBIs and a .352 on-base percentage. NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, who didn't start his campaign until April 27 but still notched an NL rookie-record 39 homers, plus 97 RBIs, 10 stolen bases and a .933 OPS, rounds out this tremendous trio.
Best Major Leaguer, Postseason
A trio of Astros will battle it out for this exalted honor, and the memories are fresh from one truly unforgettable Fall Classic. Altuve appears in a category once again -- and for good reason -- after his power display in October. Center fielder George Springer was named World Series MVP for his five homers, seven RBIs, 1.471 OPS and great defense, while Verlander is in the mix to no one's surprise on the heels of his ALCS MVP and solid Series, with a 3.75 ERA in two starts.
Best Defensive Player
As statistics evolve and clubs and fans pay more attention to the stellar work being done by the remarkable athletes of MLB on the field, this award gets more contentious and more exciting. The nominees: Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, a five-time Gold Glover who excelled in 2017; Twins center fielder Byron Buxton, who won his first Gold Glove and also took the Rawlings Platinum Glove honor as the premier defensive player in the AL; and perennial Gold Glove candidate Andrelton Simmons, the brilliant Angels shortstop.
These field leaders keep it all together, and this trio put in exceptional work in 2017. Nominees for this honor include the World Series champion, A.J. Hinch of the Astros, plus the Manager of the Year Award winners in the BBWAA voting: AL honoree Paul Molitor of the Twins and NL winner Torey Lovullo of the D-backs.
Winners will also be honored in two categories determined by a panel of MLB experts: Best Moment and Best Trending Topic. If you're going to be scoring at home, know that Arenado (five nominations), Altuve (four) and Springer, Justin Turner of the Dodgers and Francisco Lindor of the Indians (three apiece) have the most MLB Awards nominations this year.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor MLB's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five groups, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) members.
The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the AL and NL from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.
Thanks to the countless fans who teamed up with baseball Hall of Famers, club presidents and general managers as well as broadcast legends to decide the best of the best this year. Voting is now complete, so prepare for the best part by tuning in to MLB Network or visiting MLB.com tonight at 8 ET. Let's sit down and relax -- or, nah, rise up -- and get ready for one memorable show.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.