The players have spoken, and they, just like most anyone paying attention to baseball this season, chose two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani as the 2021 Player of the Year.
The Players Choice Awards are decided entirely by the men who take the field, and you can find the rest of the winners below.
Player of the Year and AL Outstanding Player
It’s difficult to put into words what Ohtani accomplished in 2021. He put together an unprecedented season in Major League history by posting a .965 OPS with 46 home runs, an MLB-leading eight triples and 26 steals while also turning in a 3.18 ERA over 23 starts on the mound for the Angels. With his prodigious power at the plate and 100 mph fastball, not to mention a devastating assortment of secondary pitches, Ohtani left players and fans alike in awe.
Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award
Semien was a force on the field, where he set an MLB record for second basemen with 45 home runs in 2021 and had an MLB-leading 724 plate appearances while playing in all 162 games for the Blue Jays. But he was an inspiration for teammates off the field as well. Semien is a three-time nominee for the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s Heart and Hustle Award, and he serves as a member of the Major League Baseball Players Association’s executive subcommittee.
The Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award is presented each year to the player “whose leadership most inspires others to higher levels of achievement.” It is named in honor of the MLBPA’s first full-time executive director, who from 1966-82 was instrumental in the process of establishing and implementing free agency and making the MLBPA one of the most cohesive labor unions in the country.
Curt Flood Award
Belanger, an eight-time Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop who played for the Orioles from 1965-81 and the Dodgers in ’82, was a longtime player advocate as an executive board member and the first former player hired to work for the Major League Baseball Players Association. Although he died in 1998, Belanger’s dedication to players’ rights and legacy in the MLBPA lives on.
The Curt Flood Award is presented each year to “a former player, living or deceased, who in the image of Flood demonstrated a selfless, longtime devotion to the Players Association and advancement of players’ rights.”
NL Outstanding Player
Harper’s numbers have, quietly, been among the best in baseball season after season, but his 2021 campaign, like his performance in his '15 NL MVP season with the Nationals, was loud enough to get our attention. The 29-year-old right fielder led baseball with 42 doubles, a .615 slugging percentage, a 1.044 OPS and a 179 OPS+ while smashing 35 homers in 141 games for the Phillies.
NL Outstanding Pitcher
Already a three-time Cy Young Award winner, the 37-year-old Scherzer can now place his third Player’s Choice Outstanding Pitcher of the Year Award on his trophy shelf. The veteran right-hander continued to overpower hitters in 2021, especially after he was traded by the Nationals to the Dodgers midseason, posting a 1.98 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 34 percent strikeout rate for Los Angeles before helping it defeat the archrival Giants in the NL Division Series.
NL Comeback Player
Posey had a resurgent 2021 after opting out of the 60-game '20 season. In fact, his rejuvenation at the plate brought memories of his NL MVP campaign in ’12. The veteran catcher was a huge reason the Giants won a franchise-record 107 games, as he slashed .304/.390/.499 with 18 homers in 113 games. The 18 homers were six more than the total number Posey hit in the '18 and ’19 seasons combined.
AL Outstanding Pitcher
Ray put together the finest season of his career, pacing the AL with a 2.84 ERA, 154 ERA+ and 193 1/3 innings. Always a high-strikeout pitcher, the left-hander led baseball with 248 of them in 2021. The big difference this past season was the significant reduction in his walk rate -- he walked 2.4 batters per nine innings after walking 7.8 per nine during the pandemic-shortened ’20 season.
AL Outstanding Rookie
Mountcastle held his own after an August callup last year, and in 2021, he got to display what he could do over a full season, launching 33 homers in 144 games for the Orioles. He really heated up at the plate in the second half, hitting 19 of those homers in just 232 at-bats.
AL Comeback Player
Mancini completed a remarkable and inspirational comeback after beating Stage 3 colon cancer that caused him to miss the 2020 season. The 29-year-old slugger had a great showing at the Home Run Derby in Colorado, where he finished second to the Mets’ Pete Alonso, and he hit 21 homers in 147 games for Baltimore in ’21.