Technology has exploded in the last decade, and baseball players have taken advantage of it, using social media platforms to give fans inside access they never dreamed of before. Players are taking us inside the clubhouse, out to restaurants and back home with their families. More and more, we're able to embrace the grind of a season with our baseball heroes.
• Vote now at MLB.com/awards
This year's Esurance MLB Award finalists for Best Social Media Personality make up a technologically savvy quintet with multitudes of followers and a keen understanding of how to entertain their fans while shedding light on their own daily activities and the fun ways they go about life on and off the field.
Adrian Beltre of the Rangers, Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers, Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs, Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays and Noah Syndergaard of the Mets are competing for this honor in what was a banner year for social media in baseball.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor Major League Baseball's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five groups, 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.
The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the American and National Leagues from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.
Individual awards will go to the Best Major Leaguer in addition to the winners in the following categories: Best Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Defensive Player, Manager, Executive, Social Media Personality and Postseason Performer.
Winners will also be recognized for the year's Best Offensive Play, Defensive Play, Regular-Season Moment, Postseason Moment, Single-Game Performance, Social Media Post, Fan Catch, Broadcast Call, Player-Fan Interaction and Trending Topic.
Voting began on Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. ET on MLB.com/awards, one hour after the inaugural Esurance MLB Fans of the Year winners were announced.
Voting for the MLB Awards will remain open until 2 p.m. ET on Nov. 11 by visiting MLB.com/awards. Winners will be announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com on Nov. 18.
It's hard to go wrong with any of these players, who have taken social media and turned it into an art form.
Beltre qualifies in a slightly different manner than some of the others on this distinguished list. The veteran player, hard at work building a Hall of Fame resume, is not personally active on social media, but his love for the game manifests itself on the field so often that he almost always goes viral.
Puig, whose exuberance for baseball can hardly be contained, posts regularly on social media to show how invested he is in the Dodgers' fan base and the Los Angeles community and loves to come up with new and exciting hashtags.
Rizzo entertains and inspires, whether it's on his own Twitter and Instagram accounts or the one he started for his retiring Cubs teammate, David Ross.
Stroman is extremely active on social media, documenting not only his life as a baseball player and member of the community but also as a baseball fan in general. It's not uncommon to see him heaping praise on players from other teams doing great things on the field.
And Syndergaard mixes a sense of humor and wit into his social media posts that shows that the man they call Thor has mastered the medium about as well as that whole starting-pitching thing.