TORONTO -- Justin Smoak and J.A. Happ were the big winners when the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced its annual awards on Wednesday afternoon.Smoak was the unanimous pick for Blue Jays Player of the Year. Happ received Pitcher of the Year honors despite being traded
TORONTO -- Justin Smoak and J.A. Happ were the big winners when the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced its annual awards on Wednesday afternoon.
Smoak was the unanimous pick for Blue Jays Player of the Year. Happ received Pitcher of the Year honors despite being traded to the Yankees on July 26. Catcher Luke Maile won Most Improved, and lefty Ryan Borucki was named Rookie of the Year.
Former Blue Jays manager John Gibbons received the John Cerutti Award, which is given out annually to someone who displays goodwill, cooperation and character. It was once known as the "Good Guy Award" and later changed to honor the late Blue Jays pitcher who passed away in 2004.
The Toronto chapter also announced on Wednesday afternoon that in 2019 the Blue Jays Pitcher of the Year Award will be renamed the Roy Halladay Award in memory of the likely Hall of Famer who died in a tragic plane crash on Nov. 7, 2017.
Smoak received all of the first-place votes for Player of the Year following a season in which he led American League first basemen with a .352 on-base percentage and an .805 OPS. The 32-year-old ranked first on the Blue Jays with 77 RBIs and reached the 25-homer plateau for a second consecutive season.
Happ made just 20 starts before a midseason deal to New York, but considering Toronto's struggles on the mound this year, that was still more than enough to win the top award. Happ represented the Blue Jays at the All-Star Game and posted a 4.18 ERA over 114 innings before the deal. Borucki, who posted a 3.87 ERA over 97 2/3 innings, finished second in the voting while reliever Dennis Tepera finished a distant third.
Maile picked up most improved after his slash line went from .146/.176/.231 in 2017 to .248/.333/.366 in '18. The backup catcher posted career highs in hits (50), doubles (13), RBIs (27) and runs (22), and he had a stretch of recording a hit in nine consecutive at-bats with runners in scoring position, which set a franchise record.
Borucki edged out infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for top rookie. The 24-year-old's 11 quality starts were tied for a team high with Marco Estrada, and they were the most by a Toronto rookie since Marcus Stroman had 14 in 2014. Borucki finished his rookie campaign with a September ERA of 2.65, ninth best among AL starters, and an opponents' average of .165, which ranked fourth.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.