MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Archer honored for authentic communication

Right-hander, teammate Kiermaier recipients of Esurance awards

Archer honored for authentic communication

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays All-Star pitcher Chris Archer knows he doesn't have the most Twitter followers in the Major Leagues, but when it comes to engaging with fans, he believes in quality over quantity.

Archer enjoys the give-and-take, the back-and-forth and the ability to reach out and digitally touch someone. He's one of the more active Major League players on social media, and while he acknowledges this avenue can be a gold mine when it comes to marketing oneself, he takes pride in simply being himself.

"I just try to be authentic," Archer said.

He's succeeding.

Archer's interactions on Twitter and other social media avenues, where he provides in-depth analysis and helps fans view the game through his eyes, earned him the 2015 Esurance MLB Award for Best Social Media Personality.

Archer received his GIBBY (Greatness in Baseball Yearly) Award before the Rays' game with the White Sox at Tropicana Field on Friday, along with teammate Kevin Kiermaier, who won the MLB Esurance Award as Best Defensive Player.

For Archer, social media aren't simply for posting photos of food or ballparks he's visiting. He wants his posts to mean something, to provide an insight and access that his more than 58,000 Twitter and more than 61,000 Instagram followers normally wouldn't have.

Take baseball's celebration Friday of Jackie Robinson Day, for example. While all 30 teams saluted the 69th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier on this date in 1947, Archer took to his Twitter account to explain what this day means to him, beyond how it changed Major League Baseball.

"The courage to stand up for civil rights was the most impressive thing Jackie Robinson did," Archer tweeted, with a photo of Robinson marching with a sign that reads, "Hire us now -- not tomorrow, not next month, but now."

While in-season commitments can make regular interaction challenging, Archer tries to communicate with his followers as much as time allows. He's aware that a gesture that takes mere seconds can leave a strong and lasting impression.

"You randomly click on a few [tweets] and see that they say something, at least say thank you, an emoji, smiley face or something," he said. "Just to acknowledge. That would have been me reaching out to Torii Hunter, Ken Griffey Jr., whoever I really enjoyed watching. If I could have gotten some type of reply from them, my life would have been made."

The Esurance MLB Awards, which were voted on at the conclusion of the 2015 postseason and announced in late November, were voted on by broadcasters, reporters, front office personnel, MLB alumni, the Society for American Baseball Research and fans at MLB.com.

Kiermaier, who also is no slouch on social media with more than 35,000 Twitter followers, is in the midst of a weekend-long celebration of his outstanding defense. In addition to receiving his Esurance defensive award Friday, he'll also be honored this weekend for winning the Rawlings Gold and Platinum Glove Awards. Fittingly, Saturday is also Kevin Kiermaier Bobblehead Day.

With stellar speed, elite range and an excellent arm, Kiermaier provides, as Rays manager Kevin Cash said, highlight-reel moments on a nightly basis.

"You can't see anybody that has that closing speed quite like he does," Cash said. "That's probably the most impressive thing. The arm is impressive, but when you see the ball come off the bat, and it's a for-sure double in the gap and then he's running it down, that's probably the most exciting thing that happens."

Kiermaier describes his defense as his "bread and butter" and the main reason he was called up to the big leagues at the end of 2013.

"It's something that matters, especially in the game nowadays, where taking a run away is valued as much as driving a run in," he said. "For me, I know I can separate myself from others on the defensive side of the game. I want to be considered an elite defender for many more years to come. I just know how much I've helped the team in the past year and a half on that side of the game. It's something I never stray away from."

As for the seemingly never-ending stream of awards this weekend, Kiermaier embraces the honors.

"It's cool getting recognition, to be awarded for what you do on the field," he said. "With this [GIBBY] award and the Gold Glove and various others, it means a lot to me, it really does. It's just of like all the hard work I've put in my whole life, it's starting to add up and it's cool being recognized for it."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.