NEW YORK -- It's difficult to pinpoint what the 2016 season will, or should, be best remembered for. It provided a little bit of everything: the end of a championship drought, an iconic franchise rewriting its own history, a beloved star player calling it a career and a revered broadcaster -- largely considered the best ever -- signing off for the final time.
It's probably fitting that the World Series extended to the limits, going a full seven games, and with Game 7 going into extra innings. After a season like 2016, who was in a hurry for it to end?
A little more than two weeks after Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo squeezed the final out of the World Series, baseball's awards season also came to a close, with the announcement of the Esurance MLB Awards, revealed on Friday on MLB social channels and during a live broadcast on MLB Network and MLB.com. Winners were also recognized at an indigo-carpet reception in Manhattan's Chelsea Market on Thursday.
"The final play to Kris Bryant, when he had to make that ground-ball play, and he had this smile on his face, even before he could make the throw to first," MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette recalled. "That typified what the Cubs were all about. The team, the fun that they had and even the most important moment of the year, to break the curse of over 100 years, and he's got a smile on his face to make the final play. That stood out to me more than anything."
The Cubs won Esurance MLB Awards for Best Social Media Personality (Anthony Rizzo), Best Play: Defense (Rizzo), Best Social Media Post (David Ross), Best Trending Topic (Cubs-Indians Game 7, shared with Cleveland) and Best Executive (Theo Epstein).
The Indians were recognized for Best Defensive Player (Francisco Lindor), Best Play: Offense (Tyler Naquin), Best Trending Topic (Cubs-Indians Game 7, shared with the Cubs), Best Manager (Terry Francona), Best Major Leaguer: Postseason (Andrew Miller) and Best Postseason Moment (Rajai Davis).
Davis categorized his game-tying home run off Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman in Game 7 of the World Series as "the best moment in my career.
"It was the best moment that I was able to experience with my teammates, my family and my friends, everyone that I know," Davis said. "It was a moment that I'll never forget."
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 League and National League from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.
Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, who six weeks ago capped a six decades-plus career on the final day of the regular season, won an Esurance MLB Award for Best Call, TV/Radio. Other winners also include Angels outfielder Mike Trout, named Best Major Leaguer, and Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, who was named Best Rookie.
"My family -- parents, fiancee, brothers and sisters, all of my friends out here -- and especially my teammates. None of this would be possible without them," Trout said. "My coaches, pushing me harder each and every day. Like I said, I'm extremely humbled and honored to accept this award. Thank you."
Seager likewise thanked his family and teammates, and also recognized everyone who cast a ballot. "I want to thank the fans for votes," Seager said. "This isn't just my award, this is for you guys, too, you guys voted for it."
The Marlins were the winners of Best Moment for paying tribute to Jose Fernandez following his sudden, tragic passing, with each member of the team adorned in the fallen star's No. 16 jersey during an emotional on-field tribute and uplifting win. Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer won as Best Pitcher and his 20-strikeout performance against the Tigers earned him Best Performance honors.
Lindor was recognized not just for his October performances, but for an entire season's worth of defensive mastery. Displaying his abilities for the first time on the national stage only heightened the awareness of the Puerto Rican shortstop's elite skills.
"I play for the fans and the city of Cleveland and for Puerto Rico and my family, and I thank them," Lindor said from the indigo carpet at the reception in Chelsea. "When we play the games, we try to put on a show for them so they can enjoy everything and it's pretty cool having them vote me into this award."
MLB Network host Greg Amsinger sees a lot of David Ortiz, who received two Esurance MLB Awards, as Best Hitter and Best Player-Fan interaction, in Lindor -- a true, superstar who has the skills and the swagger to enjoy a long career as one of the main faces of baseball.
"We need stars in baseball," Amsinger said. "As David leaves the game ... I think Francisco Lindor can be a rock star. He can be a celebrity that plays baseball because of how he performs. He and [the Cubs' Javier] Baez understand that, yeah, you're a professional athlete, but you can also be a professional entertainer while you're an athlete. [Lindor] gets that, and that's why I love him. He's great."