For two weeks, priceless performances on the diamond have been bathed with silver, gold and platinum in a jackpot of hardware honoring the best baseball had to offer in 2015, all of it culminating with the Esurance MLB Awards as the grand finale of another dazzling awards season.
This year, no one brought the bling more than Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays, who carted off the Baseball Writers' Association of America American League Most Valuable Player Award, a Silver Slugger Award and a sweep of the top honors in the Players Choice Awards. National League counterpart Bryce Harper finished plenty strong himself, earning the NL MVP Award unanimously and then adding a sweep of Best Major Leaguer and Best Everyday Player in the Esurance MVP Awards.
With all the glittering prizes for the year handed out, there's also a brilliant glow emanating from a treasure trove on the North Side of Chicago -- no, not that pennant-ringed trophy more than a century in the waiting, but a trio of BBWAA awards for the Cubs that make a trip to the World Series seem perhaps a little bit closer. Jake Arrieta led the way with his Cy Young Award as the NL's top pitcher, his remarkable season further reflected by his choice as Best Starting Pitcher and Best Breakout Player in the MLB Awards.
Here's a review of the accolades that have been handed out this month to the best of the best in baseball in 2015:
Players Choice Awards
The first group of honors singled out Donaldson as the overall Player of the Year and as the AL's Outstanding Player, giving the Blue Jays' third baseman a taste of the kind of awards season that was in store for him -- and others. In his first year in Toronto, after emerging as an All-Star with the A's, Donaldson was voted by his peers as the top performer for 2015. Others who later would receive further recognition for their season's work: Harper (NL Outstanding Player), Dallas Keuchel (AL Outstanding Pitcher), Kris Bryant (NL Outstanding Rookie) and Carlos Correa (AL Outstanding Rookie). The players also voted Zack Greinke as the NL's Outstanding Pitcher -- the one award that would not prove prescient. Uniquely, the Players Choice Awards also included the Orioles' Adam Jones winning the Marvin Miller Man of the Year for his performance both on and off the field, and Prince Fielder (AL) and Matt Harvey (NL) as Comeback Player honorees.
Gold Glove Awards
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina added to his collection, earning his eighth Gold Glove for his mastery behind home plate. The Royals rode their defense to even more accolades, with shortstop Alcides Escobar, first baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Salvador Perez all winning praise for their defensive prowess. Later that week, the Platinum Glove Awards were given to the top overall fielders in each league: Molina in the NL, and Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier in the AL.
Wilson Defensive Awards
This set of awards for the use of leather honored the best at each position in each league, but it also presented honors for Best Overall Defensive Player, won by then-Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, now with the Angels, and Defensive Team of the Year, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Silver Slugger Awards
Donaldson was among nine first-time winners of Silver Slugger Awards, which are presented to the best offensive player at each position in each league. The longest runs of Silver Slugger Award honors now belong to Andrew McCutchen in the NL and Mike Trout in the AL, both with four straight.
Rookie of the Year
The first of the the awards voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America included the first of a trio for the Cubs, as slugging third baseman Bryant took the NL award in a unanimous vote. In the AL, Correa capped off a season in which he debuted in June and helped lead the Astros to the postseason.
Manager of the Year
Joe Maddon picked up the second of the Cubs' three awards, winning the NL honor by a comfortable margin over the Cardinals' Mike Matheny and the Mets' Terry Collins, after leading his club to an MLB-best 24 more wins than the year before. The next-best turnaround was in Texas, where first-year skipper Jeff Banister led the Rangers from the cellar to the penthouse in the AL West.
Cy Young Award
Arrieta had a second half beyond compare, and a breakout season for the ages, to make the Cubs the first team to win three BBWAA awards since the 2001 Mariners with Rookie/MVP Ichiro Suzuki and manager Lou Piniella. Arrieta wound up coming out on top of a statistically spectacular ballot that included the Dodgers' Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. In the AL, the Astros picked up a second honoree with left-hander Keuchel winning after a consistently dominant season that was the continuation of his upward mobility in the game.
Most Valuable Player
Two very talented players won out for MVP Awards. Harper became the fourth-youngest to win the honor as the unanimous NL choice, and Donaldson polished off an amazing first foray into awards season with the AL accolade. Harper set himself apart with an age-22 season for all time, a display of power and patience that proved irresistible to voters. Donaldson, who led the Blue Jays to the postseason for the first time since 1993 with his prowess in all facets of the game, outpolled the Angels' Trout, who has finished in the top two in voting for each of his first four seasons.
Esurance MLB Awards
Harper and Arrieta emerged as double winners in this last batch of honors, and that was just the top of the 22-award slate that closed out awards season. In the finale of a rewarding fortnight, the Nationals' Max Scherzer was among those who also received his due with a Best Performance nod for his second of two no-hitters in 2015. Awards also went out to the best announcers, top social media efforts and other fan favorites, covering everything from Will Ferrell playing every position in one spring day in Arizona to the ultimate trending topic -- a 53-minute seventh inning in Game 5 of the AL Division Series. The postseason was also represented by Bautista's three-run homer and bat flip heard 'round the world for the Blue Jays in that famous seventh inning all winning as Best Play, Offense. Hosmer's mad dash home with the tying run in the ninth inning of the decisive Game 5 of the World Series was voted the year's Best Moment.