Every time you watch a baseball game, there's a chance to witness history.And with 30 teams in the Major Leagues and 162 games in the regular season, that means just about every day of every week has some riveting theater to behold between the baselines.The best players in the world
Every time you watch a baseball game, there's a chance to witness history.
And with 30 teams in the Major Leagues and 162 games in the regular season, that means just about every day of every week has some riveting theater to behold between the baselines.
The best players in the world often raise the level of their excellence to heights that maybe they didn't even expect to reach, and baseball fans are the biggest beneficiaries of unforgettable performances that become indelible memories.
And now it's time to honor them.
• Vote for your favorites in the Esurance MLB Awards
It was almost impossible to come up with only five candidates for the 2016 Esurance MLB Award for Best Performance, which honors the best single-game efforts by Major Leaguers during the season, but this is one quintessential quintet. This was "have a day" and then some by five players at the absolute top of their game.
Mookie Betts of the Red Sox and Kris Bryant of the Cubs are MVP front-runners in both leagues, and both are represented here for their best games at the plate. Jon Gray of the Rockies is an emerging young pitcher who had a start for the ages.
And Max Scherzer of the Nationals and Noah Syndergaard of the Mets? These two National League East rival starters seem to do amazing stuff like this all the time.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor Major League Baseball'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) voters.
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.
Individual awards will go to the Best Major Leaguer in addition to the winners in the following categories: Best Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Defensive Player, Manager, Executive, Social Media Personality and Postseason Performer.
Winners will also be recognized for the year's Best Offensive Play, Defensive Play, Regular-Season Moment, Postseason Moment, Single-Game Performance, Social Media Post, Fan Catch, Broadcast Call, Player-Fan Interaction and Trending Topic.
Voting began on Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. ET on MLB.com/awards, one hour after the inaugural Esurance MLB Fans of the Year winners were announced.
Voting for the MLB Awards will remain open until 2 p.m. ET on Nov. 11 by visiting MLB.com/awards. Winners will be announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com on Nov. 18.
On Aug. 14 vs. Arizona, Betts had yet another day to remember in a season full of them, going 4-for-6 with three home runs and five RBIs. It was Betts' second three-dinger day of the year, allowing him to join an exclusive club with legendary Boston hitter Ted Williams as the only two Red Sox players with two three-homer games in one season.
"It makes you feel pretty good," Betts said. "Any time your name is said with his, you know it means you've done something well. He had a great career, and mine's just starting."
The same can be said for Bryant, who has been locked in for much of 2016 but got especially hot on June 27 at Cincinnati, when he torched the Reds with a 5-for-5, three-homer, two-double, six-RBI game. Bryant became the first player in big league history to homer three times and double twice in the same game.
"The best game of my whole life, obviously," Bryant said. "I feel so fortunate, so thankful for this opportunity to play on a stage like this every day, and I give it my all and I make the most of every opportunity I get. To hear [about the Major League history], it keeps you coming back."
Rockies fans figure to be coming back to watch Gray, who's young and ridiculously talented. The right-hander put it all together on Sept. 17 against the Padres at Coors Field. He went the distance in an 8-0 shutout, striking out 16 batters, a Coors record.
"I feel like I belong out there this year," Gray said. "I tell myself that I'm here for a reason, and it's because I'm good. So why not show off what you've got?"
That's pretty much all Scherzer does these days. The frontrunner for the NL Cy Young in 2016 helped build his case early in the year -- May 11 to be precise, when he struck out 20 batters in one game. The feat, accomplished against the Tigers, made him the fourth pitcher to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning outing, joining Roger Clemens (twice -- April 29, 1986 and Sept. 18, 1996), Kerry Wood (May 6, 1998) and Randy Johnson (May 8, 2001).
"Tonight, at the end of the night, was a special night," Scherzer said. "Because, I mean, the strikeouts are sexy. And to be able to punch out 20 -- it's sexy."
And Mets fans share similar sentiments about their young righty ace, Syndergaard, who is downright scary when he's on the mound but also can swing the bat. The same night as Scherzer's 20-K performance, Syndergaard was having some moments of his own, going eight innings and striking out six while only giving up two runs against the Dodgers, but, most remarkably, also homering -- twice!
"This is a dream," Syndergaard said. "It was an awesome experience."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.