TORONTO -- The Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) met Tuesday to vote on its annual awards for the 2021 Blue Jays’ season.
Along with the traditional awards for top player, pitcher, rookie and most improved player, the Toronto chapter also gave out the John Cerutti Award to an individual who displays goodwill, cooperation and character. This year’s winners were:
Player of the Year: 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Guerrero finished second in American League MVP voting this season behind Shohei Ohtani, winning the AL Hank Aaron Award and a Silver Slugger along the way. The 22-year-old hit .311 with 48 home runs and a 1.002 OPS over 161 games. He was also named the 2021 All-Star Game MVP, launching a 468-foot home run off NL pitcher Corbin Burnes in the AL’s 5-2 win.
Pitcher of the Year and Most Improved Player: LHP Robbie Ray
Ray was the unanimous winner as Pitcher of the Year, an easy choice after the left-hander won the AL Cy Young Award. He was also named the Most Improved Player, given that he bounced back from a 6.62 ERA in 2020 to become one of the game’s top pitchers in ’21. Ray posted a 2.84 ERA, striking out a Major League-high 248 batters over 193 1/3 innings for the Blue Jays. On Dec. 1, Ray signed a five-year, $115 million deal with the Mariners.
Rookie of the Year: RHP Alek Manoah
Entering Spring Training, it seemed like a late-season promotion was the best-case scenario for the young right-hander. But Manoah accelerated that timeline, pitching well in camp before putting up a 0.50 ERA with 27 strikeouts over 18 innings in Triple-A. Including his MLB debut on May 27 against the Yankees, Manoah went 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA over 20 starts (111 2/3 IP), striking out 127.
John Cerutti Award: 2B Marcus Semien
The “Good Guy Award,” now named in honor of former Blue Jays player and broadcaster John Cerutti, went to Semien after a season in Toronto that earned him a third-place finish in AL MVP voting, right behind Guerrero and Ohtani. Along with a Silver Slugger Award and an All-Star appearance, Semien won a Gold Glove Award at second base, a position he hadn’t played with regularity since 2014. The 31-year-old hit .265 with 45 home runs, setting a new AL/NL record for a second baseman. On Dec. 1, Semien signed a seven-year, $175 million free agent contract with the Rangers. This award is given annually to someone associated with the day-to-day operations of the Blue Jays who displays the characteristics of the late Cerutti.