There was a lot of love to go around on Friday night as the best players, moments and achievements of the 2017 season were recognized.The Esurance MLB Awards were revealed on MLB.com and MLB Network, and many of the winners spoke from the heart about their fans and teammates.:: 2017
There was a lot of love to go around on Friday night as the best players, moments and achievements of the 2017 season were recognized.
The Esurance MLB Awards were revealed on MLB.com and MLB Network, and many of the winners spoke from the heart about their fans and teammates.
:: 2017 MLB Awards winners coverage ::
Take two of the stars we last saw celebrating on the Dodger Stadium infield: Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and pitcher Justin Verlander, who shared the award for Best Major Leaguer, Postseason.
• Complete 2017 Awards coverage
"Thanks Esurance, my teammates and all the fans for helping me win the World Series," Altuve said. "It's an honor for me to share this award with Justin Verlander, because I literally love Justin Verlander."
Verlander, who joined Houston in early September as the city was just beginning its recovery from Hurricane Harvey, came up big in October. His best moment in his first two months as an Astro may have been Game 6 in the American League Championship Series, when he went the distance against the Yankees and first prompted a declaration of love from Altuve. The feeling is mutual.
"What a great honor it is to share this award with such a great teammate," Verlander said. "What we could do for the city of Houston was amazing in bringing home a championship to a city that really needed something to cheer for, and I am so thankful to be a part of that."
Reds first baseman Joey Votto, the runner-up to Giancarlo Stanton for NL MVP by just two points, earned Best Player-Fan Interaction for his kindness and generosity with Walter Herbert, a 6-year-old fan battling cancer. After hitting a home run against the Mets, Votto high-fived Walter and, after the game, gave him the jersey he was wearing. The Reds invited Walter -- also known as "Superbubz" -- back for another game to be an honorary captain.
Walter died on Oct. 6, and Votto was among those who paid their respects during a visitation.
"The Herbert family and friends lost someone special in their life. To just have even the smallest moments in his life is a gift to me," Votto said. "I accept this award on behalf of his family and his friends. Superbubz, I feel very, very grateful to have gotten to know him and spend a little time with him."
Nolan Arenado, the Rockies' star third baseman, received two awards: Best Defensive Player and Best Play, Offense, for capping off a regular-season cycle with a walk-off homer. Arenado has played in the Major Leagues for five seasons and won five Gold Gloves.
"I want to thank the fans and Esurance," Arenado said. "It's a great award and I'm very thankful that you guys voted for me. I'm going to continue to work hard and try to make you guys happy. I really appreciate this -- thank you."
Unlike the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) honors, the Esurance MLB Awards consider the regular season and postseason. So the World Series champions, naturally, collected more hardware than anyone. Houston won or shared seven of the 17 awards, with the AL Central champion Indians and National League Wild Card Rockies next with three apiece.
In the end, the most indelible memory from the season, the incredibly gripping and intense Fall Classic, proved to be the determining factor for many of the awards. The Astros took home Best Major Leaguer (Altuve), Best Major Leaguer, Postseason (co-winners Altuve and Verlander) plus Best Manager (A.J. Hinch), Best Executive (Jeff Luhnow) and Best Postseason Moment (Alex Bregman's walk-off single in the World Series' epic Game 5). Two Astros fans also took home the Best Fan Catch honors, and the team was also recognized for its triumphant return following Hurricane Harvey (Best Moment category).
Here's a rundown of the rest of the winners:
Best Major Leaguer: Altuve He stands 5-foot-6 but everyone in the game knows the newly crowned AL MVP plays way bigger than that. Just look at his regular-season numbers (.346/.410/.547, 24 home runs, 81 RBIs, 32 stolen bases, 204 hits) and seven postseason homers.
"Thanks Esurance, my teammates and all the fans that made this possible, because this award includes players from both leagues," Altuve said. "I want to thank you guys again for making this come true."
Best Pitcher: Corey Kluber, Indians The American League Cy Young Award winner came through with stunning season numbers (18-4, 2.25 ERA, 265 strikeouts in 203 2/3 innings, 0.87 WHIP, three shutouts and five complete games), but it might have been his 1.62 ERA over his final 23 starts that won him this honor over National League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer of the Nationals and Verlander, who sparkled down the stretch and in October for Houston.
"It's quite an honor to be selected out of so many of my peers in Major League Baseball," Kluber said. "It was a very fun and historic season for us. We won 22 consecutive games, we had a lot of people come out to the ballpark and we gave everything we had every day."
Best Rookie: Aaron Judge, Yankees Judge, along with Dodgers sensation Cody Bellinger, took home the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award in a unanimous vote, but the Yankees slugger's ludicrous offensive output and solid defense got him this honor. Judge clobbered a rookie-record 52 homers and also contributed 114 RBIs and a 1.049 OPS in an unforgettable debut campaign in pinstripes.
"For a player who almost didn't make the Yankees' Opening Day roster, Judge, as a rookie, had an impact on his team and MLB like no other player in his first season," MLB.com and MLB Network analyst Jim Duquette said. "His ability to make adjustments during the season made him one of the most feared hitters in the league."
Best Manager: Hinch He guided Houston to 101 regular-season wins, helped orchestrate a comeback win in the seven-game AL Championship Series after his team was down, 3-2, against the Yankees, and watched over the historic seven-game Fall Classic victory. That pushed him over the top here against the two Manager of the Year winners, Paul Molitor of the Twins and Torey Lovullo of the D-backs.
"This is truly a special year for us and for our team," Hinch said. "Thanks to our players, our coaches, our support staff, the front office who puts the team together. Group effort to get this done, and for the fans to vote me this, this is very special to me and special to my career."
Best Executive: Luhnow The general manager's long-term plan paid off. The 100-loss years and the rebuild were worth it as the young, powerful Houston core came of age at the right time in 2017 and looks formidable moving forward.
Best Postseason Moment went to Bregman's walk-off single in Houston's 13-12 win over Los Angeles after an epic Game 5, and that same game provided the winner for Best Call, TV/Radio, for Joe Buck and John Smoltz's words to describe Altuve's clutch homer earlier in the game.
Best Play, Defense was seized by Austin Jackson, the Indians outfielder who robbed a Red Sox homer by flipping over the low bullpen wall in Fenway Park. Best Performance was a miraculous day at the yard for Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, who had six hits and 10 RBIs in a single game.
Personality of the Year went to the Rangers' always-lovable Adrian Beltre, whose joy for the game continues to infect everyone around him, while Best Fan Catch was a classic throw back by an Astros fan that has to be seen and relived to truly be appreciated for its genius.
Joining the Astros as winners in the Best Moment category were the Rockies' Chad Bettis and the Pirates' Jameson Taillon, who both tossed scoreless outings in their returns from cancer.
The Best Trending Topic category had two winners: the Indians, for their AL-record 22-game winning streak, and umpire John Tumpane, who saved the life of a woman on Pittsburgh's Roberto Clemente Bridge before taking his post behind home plate to call the June 28 game pitting the Rays against the Pirates at PNC Park. Few stories captured fans' attention like these two in 2017.
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.
Voting led off with seven categories (Personality of the Year; Best Defensive Player; Best Play, Offense; Best Play, Defense; Best Performance; Best Fan Catch; Best Player-Fan Interaction) on Sept. 18 at mlb.com/awards, serving as the grand entrance of a program that unveiled the Best Call, TV/Radio; Best Major Leaguer, Postseason; and Best Postseason Moment categories following the Fall Classic's final out.
The ninth inning of voting began around BBWAA Awards week, giving fans the opportunity to help determine the Best Major Leaguer, Pitcher, Rookie, Manager and Executive.
Below is a complete list of MLB Award winners:
• Best Play, Defense: Austin Jackson, Indians
• Best Play, Offense: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
• Best Rookie: Aaron Judge, Yankees
• Best Pitcher: Corey Kluber, Indians
• Best Defensive Player: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
• Best Executive: Jeff Luhnow, Astros
• Best Fan Catch: Astros fan rips ball from fan and throws it back
• Best Player-Fan Interaction: Joey Votto, Reds
• Best Postseason Moment: Alex Bregman, Astros
• Best Major Leaguer, Postseason: Jose Altuve and Justin Verlander, Astros
• Best Manager: A.J. Hinch, Astros
• Best Performance, Single Game: Anthony Rendon, Nationals
• Best Call TV/Radio: Joe Buck and John Smoltz, Jose Altuve's HR ties Game 5 of World Series
• Personality of the Year: Adrian Beltre, Rangers
• Best Major Leaguer: Jose Altuve, Astros
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.