CLEVELAND – The 2021 awards season is just around the corner, and local Cleveland writers decided to get a head start on handing out some hardware.
On Sunday, the Cleveland chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced the winners of its annual awards for excellence both on and off the field. José Ramírez was the first to take home a title, getting unanimously selected to win the 2021 Bob Feller Man of the Year Award. And in another unanimous decision, acting manager DeMarlo Hale was the recipient of the Frank Gibbons-Steve Olin Good Guy Award.
The writers also decided to add another award to the 2021 lineup. For the first time since 2016, the group chose to honor long-time media member Matt Loede with the John Krepop Special Achievement Award, which was created to honor career achievement or dedication and service to the organization. Loede was a permanent fixture in the press box for over two decades before passing away in September at age 46 after a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer.
On the field, it was hard to ignore the efforts by Ramírez once again. His consistency over the last six years has prompted the front office and manager Terry Francona to frequently boast about having one of the best players in the Majors on their roster. It was no different this season.
Along with his improved defense, Ramírez turned in another solid offensive season, hitting .266 with an .893 OPS (141 OPS+), a team-leading 36 homers, 103 RBIs, 32 doubles five triples and 27 stolen bases, while ranking sixth in the Majors in fWAR (6.3). Although rookie closer Emmanuel Clase and starter Cal Quantrill were also nominated for the Man of the Year Award due to their impressive seasons, Ramírez was unanimously named the winner.
The Good Guy Award focuses more on a person’s efforts off the field, specifically on who is most considerate and reliable with the media. This season, the winner was undoubtedly Hale, who stepped in to replace Francona when he was forced to address a few health conditions. Others who received nominations were backstop Austin Hedges and Cleveland's president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti.
Hale suddenly went from bench coach to managing a young, inexperienced team and having to be the voice held responsible with the media on a daily basis. As often as the team could’ve turned to other coaches and front office members to take some of the daily media meetings off Hale’s plate, the temporary skipper was more than willing to handle his new duties at any time. Although he’s expected to move back into his bench coach position when Francona returns in 2022, his efforts in the interim were not overlooked.