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November 14th, 2017

The Cubs ultimately fell short of accomplishing their end goal of repeating as World Series champions, falling to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. But they still provided a number of memorable moments and performances throughout the year in an exciting 2017 campaign.

A few of those moments and performances have been recognized among the best in the sport, with and up for Esurance MLB Awards for Best Defensive Play and Best Player-Fan Interaction, respectively. Manager Joe Maddon is a nominee for Best Manager, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is also nominated in the Best Executive category.

Voting led off with seven categories on Sept. 18 at mlb.com/awards, serving as the grand entrance of a program that unveiled nominees for Best Call, TV/Radio; Best Major Leaguer, Postseason; and Best Postseason Moment following the Fall Classic's final out. The ninth inning of voting began around BBWAA Awards week, which opened when the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award winners were unveiled Monday, Nov. 13. Voting in the Best Executive and Best Rookie categories went live earlier this week, preceding balloting in the Best Manager category, as well as Wednesday's Best Pitcher and Thursday's Best Major Leaguer nominee reveals.

MLB Awards season will culminate Friday, Nov. 17, when winners are announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Here's a look at Chicago's nominees:

Best Play, Defense: Against the Nationals on June 26, Baez made a sliding catch in foul territory, covering 132, the longest distance recorded by Statcast™ for a putout by a shortstop.

"That popup was stupid good," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He went so far. Did you see the peek? He gave the peek and knew exactly where he was. I don't know who else makes that play. I know our guy Addy is really good, but [Baez] did everything so perfectly on that -- the glance at the wall, the slide, the catch, everything."

Best Player-Fan Interaction: Russell earned a nomination here for his nachos mishap at Busch Stadium. The Cubs' infielder made up for spilling a fan's nachos when diving into the stands by bringing the fan a fresh tray and stopping for a selfie.

Best Manager: Maddon steered the Cubs back into contention after a subpar first half. Following a 43-45 mark at the All-Star break, the Cubs went 49-25 in the second half to win their division for the second consecutive year. Maddon guided Chicago to the NL Championship Series for the third consecutive season, and his third as Cubs manager.

Best Executive: This is familiar territory for Epstein, who won the award in 2016 after the Cubs' World Series championship run. This year presented a new challenge: how to get an established team back to the promised land. And under Epstein's guidance, the Cubs came oh so close.