Awards season wraps up with BBWAA honors and Esurance MLB Awards
By Doug Miller
They call this the offseason? Ha. It's more like the on season.
If we've learned anything about Major League Baseball over the years, it's that the 162 games from April to October are really the only things that aren't happening in the sport come this time in November.
As we enter the week ahead, it's never been more apparent that each day from now until Thanksgiving will be hugely important.
This week starts with the announcement of the first of the prestigious annual Baseball Writers' Association of America honors, and it ends with the Esurance MLB Awards. In between, there will be high-profile honors and the potential for free-agent signings or trades that could radically alter the big league landscape.
In other words, let's get on with the excitement that never ends, even after the final World Series out has been recorded and the victory parade has been cleaned up.
Monday offers plenty of intrigue. The first BBWAA honors will be dealt out, with the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards being announced live on MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET.
The finalists for the American League are Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano, with 21-year-old phenom Correa the favorite to take home the hardware.
In the National League, the results of the BBWAA rookie vote will award either Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Duffy or Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang.
Tuesday will be all about the skippers. The BBWAA Manager of the Year Award for each league will also be revealed at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network, and two winners will emerge from six deserving finalists. The top three in the AL are Jeff Banister of the Texas Rangers, Twins skipper Paul Molitor and Astros manager A.J. Hinch. The NL winner will be one of this special trio: New York Mets manager Terry Collins, Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny.
On Wednesday, the best pitchers in the game will be honored by the BBWAA, with the 2015 AL and NL Cy Young Award winners being announced on MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET. The NL race gets top billing, with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers going up against Cubs ace Jake Arrieta in what could be a very close race. In the AL, Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel is a top contender, along with southpaw David Price, who split time between the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays, and Oakland A's righty Sonny Gray.
Thursday will conclude the BBWAA Awards with the Most Valuable Player honors for each league. The AL finalists are Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson and Angels center fielder Mike Trout. In the NL, a winner will be announced from the finalist trio of Arizona D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper and Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
Awards season will come to a dramatic and fitting close on Friday with the first edition of the Esurance MLB Awards, broadcast live on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET and hosted by Brian Kenny and Dan Plesac.
The Esurance MLB Awards are an extensive list of honors that cover the best players, but also recognize moments, personalities and trending topics. The honors were decided based on fan voting at MLB.com which closed Friday, along with balloting from a comprehensive panel featuring Hall of Fame players, club presidents and general managers, many of the industry's everyday reporters, and the Society for American Baseball Research.
Individual awards will go to the Best Major Leaguer in addition to the winners in the following categories: 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.
Last week's General Managers Meetings in Florida got the Hot Stove simmering, and already we've seen a major trade, with All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel going from San Diego to Boston for four prospects. This week could bring even more activity.
The Reds, for example, appear to be open for bartering, and they have another potentially available star closer in Cuban sensation Aroldis Chapman.
"There will be other teams that are interested in Chapman," Reds GM Dick Williams told MLB.com on Saturday. "I don't control who is out there or who will be interested. We feel that there are other offers. We feel that he's the best closer out there, so [we] hope good stuff can happen."
And players might not be the only ones changing addresses this week. The Dodgers are still looking for a manager and will hold more interviews this week as their search progresses, with Gabe Kapler, Bud Black and Dave Roberts slated to sit down with team ownership, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.