Voting underway for best offensive play of the 2015 season
By Thomas Harrigan
All season long, Major Leaguers inspired awe in the name of offense.
With remarkable power and blazing speed, players turned heads in their efforts to rattle opposing pitchers and put runs on the scoreboard.
The Esurance MLB Award for Best Play, Offense recognizes those feats and allows you, the fan, to have a say in determining the preeminent offensive play of the year. Vote now for the Esurance MLB Awards to help decide the best of this year's best.
Here are the season's top highlights at the plate and on the bases:
The perennial Major League standard bearer for tape-measure home runs, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton added to his impressive collection of colossal blasts on May 12. Stanton smashed a first-inning big fly -- measured at 474.8 feet by Statcast™ -- that literally left Dodger Stadium after bouncing off the ballpark's signature zigzag roof in left field.
Minnesota second baseman Brian Dozier came through to complete the biggest ninth-inning comeback of the 2015 campaign. The Twins faced a 6-1 deficit with three outs remaining on July 10, but they cut the score to 6-5 and passed the baton to Dozier with two men on. The second baseman belted a three-run blast to win the game.
One night after Dozier's clutch blast, Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen supplied the crucial blow in Pittsburgh to end a marathon game. The Pirates entered the bottom of the 14th inning faced with their third deficit of the night at the hands of the rival Cardinals, but McCutchen delivered a two-run walk-off homer to center field.
Staying in the NL Central, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant came to the rescue to prevent a disheartening July 27 loss after his club let a three-run lead slip away in the top of the ninth inning. With two outs and a runner on first, the rookie crushed his first career walk-off homer to lift Chicago to a thrilling 9-8 victory.
Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson cracked three walk-off homers during Toronto's AL East-winning campaign, the last of which came on Sept. 27, with the division still hanging in the balance. Donaldson decided not to treat the Toronto faithful to bonus baseball when he stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 4-4 game, pulling a slider into the second deck for his 41st homer of the year and pushing Toronto one big step closer to the division crown.
So we've chronicled the top slugging feats of the year, but what about the speedsters? They deserve some love too, and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is a good place to start.
By virtue of his quick thinking and even quicker feet, Andrus helped the Rangers steal a run at Petco Park on Sept. 1. With right-hander Kevin Quackenbush focused squarely on his next pitch, Andrus saw his opening, darted from third base and beat Quackenbush's throw to complete a straight steal of home.
On Sept. 25 in Washington, a misplay in center field gave Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr the impetus to produce an exciting sprint around the bases -- plating four runs in the process. Completing his trip in short order, Altherr notched the Majors' first inside-the-park grand slam since 1999.
Not surprisingly, 2015 National League batting champion and two-time league stolen base leader Dee Gordon makes an appearance on this list. The Marlins second baseman recorded the Majors' fastest inside-the-park homer this season, taking 14.241 seconds to circle the bases after lacing a shot to the right-field gap on June 30 vs. the Giants.
In another terrific display of raw speed, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve needed just 10.093 seconds to score from first on a George Springer shot down the right-field line on Sept. 23 at Minute Maid Park. His incredible dash -- which came after an intentional walk -- was one of the fastest first-to-home times recorded by Statcast™ all season, and Altuve followed it up with a run-scoring dive that was just under the tag of Angels catcher Carlos Perez.
Need to catch your breath after that? Go ahead, but be sure to cast your votes for Best Play, Offense afterward. The field has plenty of fine choices, both for fans of power and those partial to speed, so the decision is going to be tough. Voting is open through Nov. 13 at mlb.com/awards.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor Major League Baseball's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five components, 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.
Individual awards will go to the Best Major Leaguer in addition to the winners in the following categories: The Best Everyday Player, Starting Pitcher, Rookie, Defensive Player, Breakout Player, Bounceback Player, Manager, Executive, Social Media Personality and postseason performer.
Winners will also be recognized for the year's best offensive play, defensive play, Moment, single-game performance, Social Media Post, Celebrity Fan, Fan Catch, Interview, TV call, radio call, Player-Fan Interaction, Video Board Moment and Trending Topic. Winners will be announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com on Nov. 20.
Thomas Harrigan is a fantasy editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.