The Baseball Writers' Association of America has handed out its hardware this week, honoring the Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player in each league.Up next? The grand finale of baseball's awards season: the Esurance MLB Awards, with winners to be
The Baseball Writers' Association of America has handed out its hardware this week, honoring the Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player in each league.
Up next? The grand finale of baseball's awards season: the Esurance MLB Awards, with winners to be announced on MLB Network and MLB.com on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.
The 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 American and National Leagues 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 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, giving fans the opportunity to help determine the Best Major Leaguer, Pitcher, Rookie, Manager and Executive.
Here are some facts and figures to get you ready for the Esurance MLB Awards, in each of six major categories.
BEST MAJOR LEAGUER
Finalists: Jose Altuve, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge
• None of the finalists previously has won this award -- which began in 2012. The Angels' Michael Trout took it in '16, preceded by the Nationals' Bryce Harper, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and back-to-back wins for the Tigers' Jose Cabrera.
• Stanton could become the third straight outfielder to win Best Major Leaguer, following Trout and Harper. Altuve would be the first infielder at a position other than first base.
• Each of the five past winners also won an MVP Award, three in the AL (Trout, Cabrera twice), and two in the NL (Harper, Kershaw). Either Altuve or Stanton could extend that streak to six after they were named the AL and NL MVPs, respectively, on Thursday by the BBWAA.
Finalists: Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander
• This is the third season in which the category has included all pitchers in one group, whereas previously, starters, closers and setup men were considered separately. In 2015 (Jacob Arrieta) and '16 (Scherzer), a starter won the award.
• Kershaw (2013-14) is the only starter to have won the award multiple times. Verlander ('11) or Scherzer could join him, with Scherzer also having a chance to match Kershaw with two consecutive wins.
• Kluber and Verlander would be the first from their respective teams to be named Best Pitcher, while Scherzer is the only previous winner for the Nationals.
• This year's Cy Young Award winners in both the AL (Kluber) and NL (Scherzer) also are Best Pitcher finalists. If either wins, it would be the 10th straight year in which the Best Pitcher honoree also took home a Cy Young Award. Before that, in 2007 (Josh Beckett) and '06 (Chien-Ming Wang), the Best Pitcher was a Cy Young Award runner-up.
BEST MAJOR LEAGUER, POSTSEASON
Finalists: Altuve, George Springer, Verlander
• The first six winners of this award also won the World Series, with the Giants' Timothy Lincecum (2010) followed by the Cardinals' David Freese ('11), the Giants' Pablo Sandoval ('12), the Red Sox's David Ortiz ('13), the Giants' Madison Bumgarner ('14) and the Royals' Wade Davis ('15). The Indians' Andrew Miller broke that streak last year, but each of the '17 finalists hail from the World Series champion Astros.
• The saying goes that "pitching wins championships," but this award has been fairly split between pitchers and hitters. Four pitchers have been honored as the best Major Leaguer in the postseason -- including two starters (Bumgarner and Lincecum) and two relievers (Davis and Miller) -- compared with three position players (Freese, Ortiz and Sandoval). Pitchers, however, have won this award in each of the last three years. Verlander has a chance to make it four.
• Springer could be the fifth player to win a World Series MVP and Best Major Leaguer, Postseason award in the same autumn. Bumgarner was the last to do so, in 2014.
• The Giants are the only team to feature multiple winners of this award, while the Astros will become the sixth club represented in this award's eight-year history.
Finalists: Cody Bellinger, Andrew Benintendi, Judge
• Bellinger or Judge could make it eight straight seasons in which a player has paired a Best Rookie award with a BBWAA Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award. Pitcher J.A. Happ was the most recent player to win this award while not winning the Rookie of the Year, in 2009.
• Pitchers lead all positions with four Best Rookie wins, most recently Jose Fernandez in 2013. However, each of this year's finalists is a position player.
Third basemen lead all position players by claiming this award three times. Bellinger could join Jose Abreu (2014) as primary first basemen to win it, while Benintendi would be the first left fielder or Judge the first right fielder.
• Parity has reigned supreme here, as the Best Rookie has come from a different team in each of the first 14 years of the award. Benintendi (Red Sox) could continue that trend, or we could see Bellinger's Dodgers or Judge's Yankees become the first club to feature multiple winners. L.A. had Corey Seager take home the trophy last year, while New York's Robinson Cano was honored in 2005.
• Former Best Rookie winners Kris Bryant (2015) and Trout ('12) went on to win BBWAA Most Valuable Player Awards, while the cast of 14 previous winners has combined for 16 top-five finishes in MVP voting and three top-five placements in Cy Young Award voting. They've also combined for 49 All-Star Game selections, 22 Silver Slugger Awards and 10 Gold Glove Awards.
Bellinger and Judge were All-Stars this year, while Judge took home a Silver Slugger Award and finished second in AL MVP voting.
Finalists: A.J. Hinch, Torey Lovullo, Paul Molitor
• Terry Francona and Bruce Bochy are the only multiple winners of the Best Manager award, and that will remain true, as each of the 2017 finalists would be a first-timer. Francona captured it with the Red Sox in 2004 and the Indians a year ago, while Bochy won with his World Series champion Giants in 2010 and '14.
• Lovullo, fresh off winning the 2017 BBWAA NL Manager of the Year Award on Tuesday, could join Kirk Gibson as the only men to win this award in their first full season as a Major League manager. Gibson also won with the D-backs in 2011 after taking the helm the previous July.
• Lovullo or Molitor could become the seventh man to win Manager of the Year and Best Manager honors in the same season, and the third in a row, following the Cubs' Joe Maddon (2015) and the Indians' Francona ('16).
• Though Best Manager considers postseason performance, in addition to the regular season, a win for Hinch would make him just the seventh of 15 honorees to have led his team to a World Series championship. The list includes the Bochy (2010, '14), the Red Sox's John Farrell ('13), the Phillies' Charlie Manuel ('08), the White Sox Ozzie Guillen ('05) and the Red Sox's Francona ('04).
• Hinch, whose Astros went 101-61 in the regular season, would become the first Best Manager honoree to have led his club past the century mark in victories. Guillen came the closest when he skippered the White Sox to a 99-63 record in 2005. While every Best Manager winner has captained his club to a postseason berth, either Lovullo or Molitor would be the ninth skipper of a Wild Card squad to win the award. If Hinch wins, he would be the seventh manager from a division champion to do so.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Finalists: Nolan Arenado, Byron Buxton, Andrelton Simmons
• Simmons seeks his second Best Defensive Player award after capturing it in 2014 with the Braves. That would make him the third multi-time winner of this honor, following Yadier Molina (2012-13) and Jim Edmonds (2003-04).
• Center fielders and shortstops have dominated this award, claiming five Best Defensive Player honors each, with either Buxton or Simmons poised to break that tie. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor captured last year's award, preceded the year before by Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. The list rounds out with two catcher awards (both to Molina) and one each for second basemen (Placido Polanco, 2007), third basemen (Mike Lowell, 2006) and right fielders (Ichiro Suzuki, 2005).
• Each of the three Best Defensive Player finalists this year already received a Rawlings Gold Glove Award. But while that combination is typical, it hasn't always been the case. In fact, a string of five Best Defensive Player winners in six years from 2006-11 prevailed without receiving Gold Glove honors.
Rawlings' Platinum Glove Award, which honors the best overall defender in each league, based on fan voting and the SABR Defensive Index, has overlapped three times with the Best Defensive Player honor, thanks to Lindor ('16), Kiermaier ('15) and Molina ('12). Either Arenado or Buxton would be the fourth to pull off that feat.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSimonMLB.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.