Q and A With Alex Kirilloff

Alex Kirilloff was drafted by the Twins in the 1st round of the 2016 draft, after hitting .540 with 3 homers and 24 RBI’s over the course of his senior year at Plum High School in Pennsylvania. alex

But Kirilloff wasn’t your typical high school draft pick. Although he played for his local high school team, Kirilloff took classes online throughout his entire four years there, making him just the second home schooled player to ever be drafted in the first round.

However, despite having never attended classes on campus, the Twins saw great potential in Kirilloff, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. In his first partial season of pro ball this past year, Kirilloff hit .306 with 7 home runs and 33 RBI’s in just 55 games played, winning the Appalachian League Player of the Year.

Although only time will tell if those numbers will continue to translate into the upper levels of the minors, if Kirilloff can keep his hitting going into the coming years, he could be playing in Minnesota in the not so distant future.

Alex Kirilloff — top prospect in the Twins’ organization — took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?

My father was my biggest baseball influence growing up. He always tells me about how the first day I was able to stand up and walk he was already showing me how to hit off a tee. I’ve always had an interest for baseball growing up for as long as I can remember, really. Being surrounded by it kinda led me in that direction.

2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?

Josh Hamilton was probably my favorite baseball player growing up. He captivated me — watching him hit 28 homers in a single round of the 2008 Homerun Derby at Yankee Stadium. I also have read his book. His story is a great example of how even Christians are not perfect. His battle with alcohol and drugs just goes to show what the devil can do to us if we aren’t always careful. Josh’s testimony is tremendous, and I would suggest reading his book Beyond Belief to anyone.

3.) You were drafted by the Twins in the 1st round of the 2016 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?

Being drafted by the Twins is truly a blessing. The process throughout high school was long and tedious at some points, but it was all worth it. When I first found out, my teammates, friends and family were all at a local restaurant watching the draft. My initial thoughts were how excited, honored and blessed I was to get selected by them.

4.) In 2015, before you were drafted, you won the Perfect Game All-American Classic Home Run Challenge in San Diego, hitting 34 home runs over the course of the competition. With the power you possess, how important do you consider power-hitting to be in regards to your overall gameplay?

I think the power is a growing part of my overall gameplay. I would hope that the older I get and the more I mature, I hope the power will become more and more relevant. Overall, though, it’s a huge part of hitting to be able to hit doubles and home runs, so I hope to continue to do that.

5.) You were the first high school player since Joe Mauer the Twins immediately sent to Elizabethton to begin their professional career, completely skipping the Gulf Coast League. What type of changes did you find yourself having to make to adjust to the differences between high school and professional baseball?

There are a lot of adjustments to be made from high school to pro ball. The game speeds up a lot; you are getting challenged every at-bat; you are playing every single day; you have to take care of your body better; and you have to be mentally focused everyday.

6.) Despite being sent straight to the Appalachian League, you immediately excelled, going on to win the Appy League Player of the Year for 2016. What did it mean to you to have such a successful start to your pro career?

It meant a lot to get my career started on a good note. I felt that it was reassurance from the Lord that this truly is His plan for me and the avenue that He would like me to impact people through.

7.) Talk a little bit about life on the road: What’s the most difficult aspect of it? What do you do to pass the time?

Bus rides are usually not exactly the highlight of going on a road trip. Most of your down time is eating and sleeping, to be honest. Again, that’s just another adjustment that has to be made playing pro ball.

8.) Although you had time after signing to play in just 55 games, what do you feel went well in 2016? What are your goals for 2017?

I just think my adjustments to the whole situation went pretty well in 2016. I am always looking to improve though and, Lord willing, do better in 2017.

9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?

Favorite TV show is ‘Intentional Talk’. Favorite food is steak.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

My advice would be that if you are serious about your dream of playing baseball, and that it is what you feel the Lord wants you to do, it takes a lot of work. Training, discipline and motivation are all big keys along the way. Putting yourself in different opportunities to be seen by people is important as well, believe it or not.

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Big thanks to Alex Kirilloff for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on Twitter: @AKirilloff19

Atlanta Braves Quietly Becoming Contenders?

After losing their first seven games of the 2016 season and going on to tie for the worst record in all of the National League (losing 93 games in all), no one honestly expected things to be much better in 2017 for the Braves, citing 2018 or later as the arrival of their top prospects and subsequent resurgence. But over the first few weeks of the offseason to this point, Atlanta has been building a decent rotation somewhat under-the-radar.braves

With a strong starting five going a long way in influencing the outcome of any given team’s season, the Braves began to stockpile their rotation with the signings of R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon in the middle of November. Although Dickey hasn’t been the same since winning the Cy Young award in 2012, with a 4.05 ERA over the course of 130 starts since, and despite the fact that Colon is set to turn 44 in May — making neither the dominant type of pitcher who will lead to an immediate turnaround — they are both proven pitchers who will provide the Braves with solid innings all season.

However, it was a pickup the Braves completed on Thursday that made people begin to talk about the legitimacy of their rotation. Acquiring Jaime Garcia from the Cardinals in exchange for a few mid-range prospects, Atlanta added yet another solid piece to their pitching staff. While Garcia fell off towards the end of 2016 after beginning the year in brilliant fashion, Garcia has been a great pitcher over the course of his career to this point, and should fit in nicely with the likes of Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz, as well as the aforementioned free agent pickups.

But while the Braves have greatly improved the rotation aspect of their team, and should subsequently improve upon their 4.51 team ERA from last season (especially with there still being rumors that they are pursuing a true ace of the staff), their bullpen remains a bit shaky. Jim Johnson was decent for them last season, and they have a few other pieces such as Mauricio Cabrera and Shae Simmons who will help out, but things haven’t been truly lights out since the loss of Craig freemanKimbrel to the Padres in 2015.

Even so, the Braves should be able to compete on a decent level if their lineup can produce. In 2016, Atlanta was 19th in team batting average and dead last in terms of collective home runs. But Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp (who saw a bounce back season in 2016) will likely be their All-Star selves again in 2017 and greatly contribute, with the Braves possessing a handful of other standout players.

From Dansby Swanson, who is looking to make good upon his stellar late-season campaign in 2016, to Nick Markakis, who has always been a good MLB player over his career, the Braves certainly have the pieces to make 2017 a year to remember.

Now they just have to put them all together.

In the end, the Braves still face a tough path in 2017. With the Nationals and Mets set to battle for who will win the division, leaving the Marlins to likely come in third, all signs point to it being between the Phillies and Braves for who will finish fourth and fifth.

But whether or not the Braves can stun the baseball world and finish any better than fourth in the National League East in 2017, the point is still clear: The Braves aren’t merely sitting around and waiting for their top, game-changing prospects to arrive over the course of the next few seasons.

For the Atlanta Braves, the time to win is right now.

December Blogging Plans

The Major League Baseball season has officially been over for almost a full month, but that doesn’t mean that things going on in the baseball world have come to a halt as well.

While there isn’t as much to talk about in terms of actual baseball action, the offseason trades and signings that take place each and every season are just now beginning to take place, with a major uptick sure to occur during the Winter Meetings next week. With that in mind, I wanted to go over the things I plan to blog about in the coming month.

First off, I’ll obviously be writing about the biggest trades and signings as they occur. While I can’t write about every single one, I will likely take the time to give my thoughts on the bigger names that get moved, as well as the Winter Meetings as a whole, should they turn out to be jam-packed.

Following that, the greatness in baseball yearly (GIBBY) awards are set to be handed out in December, with a number of players being awarded hardware for a number of categories in recognition of the season they had.

At some point during the month, I’ll be posting a couple of interviews, with one likely coming in the first week of the month, with the second coming sometimes in the latter part of December. The current lineup sees Alex Kirilloff (the Twins’ first round draft pick from 2016) and Daniel Norris up next, but that’s always subject to change.

Other than that, I’ll continue to simply blog about things as they happen. As stated, this isn’t the busiest time of the year due to there being no more baseball games to watch, but it’s times like these where some of my more creative writing takes place. So, who knows what I’ll decide to write about? Stay tuned.

Being Thankful Around MLB This Thanksgiving

As we all know, Thanksgiving is the time of year where we reflect on what has happened throughout the previous year and take the time to appreciate the things we are most thankful for. That can be applied to Major League Baseball asthanks well.

Although not as important in the grand scheme of things as being thankful for family, health, etc., there are many things each and every baseball team can be thankful for.

Whether they’re thankful for what has already happened in 2016 or of the things likely to come in 2017, every team has a lot to be thankful for.

With that in mind, I figured I’d come up with a list of one thing each of the 30 MLB teams should be thankful for this holiday (not necessarily the thing each is MOST thankful for, just something to be thankful for in general):

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Red Sox: As one superstar departs, another arrives

The career David Ortiz had for the Red Sox was truly remarkable, but Boston appears to have someone ready to fill his shoes following his retirement. Mookie Betts was good in 2015, but he was astounding in 2016, hitting 31 homers and finishing second to Mike Trout in American League MVP voting. As such, David Ortiz will certainly be missed at Fenway, but Boston fans should be thankful that they have a player like Mookie Betts set to keep the Red Sox in contention in the years to come.

Orioles: Zach Britton is the real deal

While there are a number of people who feel the Orioles would be best suited to trade away Zach Britton while his stock is high following the historically great season he had as a reliever in 2016 — recording the lowest ERA (0.54) ever for a relief pitcher — retaining him for 2017 is extremely important in my mind. The Orioles should be thankful that they have a closer like Britton who they can count on to slam the door in the ninth. Pitchers like him are very rare, and teams with a strong closer tend to fare better than those who don’t.morales

Blue Jays: Adding Kendrys Morales to their already powerful lineup

It remains to be seen whether the Blue Jays can keep Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista as part of their lineup heading into next season (it’s looking less and less likely as of late), but regardless, they did a lot for their club recently by signing veteran DH Kendrys Morales. Blasting 30 home runs for the Royals last season, Morales joins a roster that’s guaranteed to contain power bats Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson. If nothing else, Toronto should be very thankful they don’t have to pitch to their own ball club.

Yankees: Gary Sanchez’s historic season a sign of things to come

Gary Sanchez was virtually an unknown heading into the 2016 season, but by the end of the year he was a household name. Bursting onto the scene in August, Sanchez proceeded to set a number of rookie records, winding up with 20 home runs for the season. Although Sanchez didn’t win Rookie of the Year, the Yankees should be thankful that there’s more where he came from. With top prospects such as Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier looking to make impacts in 2017, Sanchez appears to be the tip of the iceberg for the Yankees’ resurgence.

Rays: Having multiple power threats

The Rays may have finished dead last in the American League East in 2016, but they still had some fantastic performances. Their pitching wasn’t that great throughout the year, but offensively they were actually fairly decent. Evan Longoria managed to hit 36 bombs, with Brad Miller and Corey Dickerson breaking out to have career highs in homers, at 30 and 24 (tying a career high), respectively. If the Rays happen to climb up the standings next season, the Rays fans will have players such as Longoria, Miller and Dickerson to be thankful to.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Nationals: Daniel Murphy’s and Tanner Roark’s breakout seasons

With Bryce Harper seeing a drastic drop off from his 2015 MVP-winning numbers, and Stephen Strasburg suffering through a series of injuries, the Nationals could have very easily fallen apart this year. But just the opposite, they won the division with ease. Although it was undoubtedly a collective effort, the breakout seasons of Daniel Murphy and Tanner Roark helped tremendously. With Murphy hitting .347 with 25 homers and Roark leading the team with a 2.83 ERA, the Nats have them to thank in large part for making the postseason in 2016.

Mets: Health should return to rotation in 2017

The Mets were expected to keep pace with the Nationals all season long, having things come right down until the very end for who would win the division. But that’s not close to what happen. Due to Jacob de Grom, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey all struggling in 2016, only Noah Syndergaard lived up to the billing, and that wasn’t nearly enough to overtake the Nationals. But the Mets should be very thankful that all of those pitchers should be back to form in 2017. ozunaIf all goes as planned, the Mets should be very good again next season.

Marlins: Marcell Ozuna looks to be headed for stardom

We have known about the stupendous power of Giancarlo Stanton for some time, but after the 2016 season Marcell Ozuna put together, people are beginning to take notice of his big bat as well. Though no one hits them quite like Stanton, Ozuna hit 23 homers for the second time in his career this past year and made his first All-Star team. Stanton will continue to be the top talent on the team as long as he continues to stay healthy, but the Marlins should be thankful they have a great co-power threat such as Ozuna in their lineup on an everyday basis.

Phillies: Tommy Joseph eases Phillies’ minds of losing Ryan Howard

There hasn’t been a lot for the fans of the Phillies to be thankful for over the past few seasons, especially after being so dominant for so many years not too long ago. But Tommy Joseph just might change that for them in the years to come. Losing long time Phillies star Ryan Howard is certainly a big blow to their offense, but Joseph proved in 2016 that he is talented enough to fill the big shoes left at first by the departing Howard. Hitting 21 homers this past season, Joseph should fit right in and continue to post solid numbers for Philadelphia.

Braves: Signing of R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon to help rotation

One of the worst teams in all of baseball in 2016, the Braves are all set to move across town to their new ballpark in 2017. But while that’s exciting for both the team and their fans, one of the things they should be thankful for is the additions of veteran pitchers R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon so far this offseason. Though they aren’t the type of pitchers who can turn a team around, they are still impactful pitchers who will give the Braves solid innings and give their rotation a bit of a boost as soon as the season begins in early April.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Indians: Made it to World Series without biggest pieces

The fans of the Indians have every right to be disappointed that they made it all the way to game seven of the World Series only to lose in extras, but there is a very big silver lining that should cause the Indians to feel thankful for what may come in 2017. The fact that Cleveland was able to make the World Series without Michael Brantley or other key figures from 2015 should give their fans hope for 2017. While the Indians didn’t break their 68-year Fall Classic Championship drought this year, they very well could attempt to secure a title yet again in 2017.

Tigers: Justin Verlander had another Cy-Young-caliber year

After making six straight All-Star teams from 2009 to 2013, Justin Verlander simply hadn’t been the same pitcher over the last two seasons. With a combined ERA of 4.08 over 52 starts made in the aforementioned seasons, Verlander was no longer a feared pitcher in the Tigers’ rotation, at least not on the same level he had once been. But 2016 saw Verlander breaking out again, which is something Tigers’ fans should be thankful for. Though 2016 saw the Tigers failing to make the postseason, 2017 looks promising if Verlander continues to thrive.duffy

Royals: Danny Duffy showed signs of being an Ace

There aren’t many true Aces around baseball, merely a lot of really good pitchers. But Danny Duffy, who had shown signs of greatness over the last few seasons, showed even more such signs in 2016. With the best team ERA of the entire Royals’ rotation, Duffy truly made his presence known in August in one start against the Rays. In that game, Duffy struck out a whopping sixteen batters in his one-hit masterpiece. Even if the Royals fail to make the postseason again in 2017, they should be thankful to have a guy like Duffy ready to lead the staff.

White Sox: Todd Frazier held down the hot corner

Not too much went right for the White Sox this year, but one of the bright spots for them was undoubtedly Todd Frazier. Although Frazier has always been a great player, his career-high 40 home runs in 2016 truly cemented him as one of the best offensive third basemen in baseball as well as a player the White Sox should give thanks for possessing. His defense was also very solid, making him a valuable part of Chicago’s lineup heading into next season. If Frazier can continue to smack the ball, he should be a big contributor for the foreseeable future.

Twins: Brian Dozier keeps getting better and better

The Twins should be very thankful to have Brian Dozier as the best offensive second baseman in baseball. Following an amazing 2015 campaign, very few thought Dozier could possibly get any better. But he proved them all wrong this season, hitting an MLB-record 42 homers at second. With that kind of pop, Dozier easily led the Twins, who had a good amount of struggles offensively throughout their poor season. Nothing is guaranteed from one season to the next, but Dozier being great again in 2017 is pretty much a given.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Cubs: 108-Year World Series drought was ended

It’s a safe bet to assume that every Cubs fan will list their team finally winning a World Series title as something they’re thankful for from 2016, and understandably so. After over a century of disappointment, the Cubs were able to break through and win their first championship against the Indians early this month. Although getting to the World Series is very difficult, regardless of if the Cubs ever make it back again the fans of their club will assuredly remember how they felt upon the final out of game seven for the rest of their lives.

Cardinals: One-two punch of Carlos Martinez, Alex Reyes setting up

Adam Wainwright proved in 2016 that he can still compete at the major league level, but when it comes to absolutely dominating the opposing squad, it falls to Carlos Martinez and the youngster Alex Reyes for the Cardinals next year. They each have a blazing fastball in their arsenal, and the Cardinals should be thankful that they have each of them ready to man the top of St. Louis’s rotation moving forward. Their lineup will likely be good again in 2017, but whatMLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves will ultimately help the Cards succeed next season falls on their rotation.

Pirates: Pitching should improve from within in 2017

Gerrit Cole was good in 2016, and Ivan Nova surprised many with his performance, but what will truly enable the Pirates to become contenders once again is their young pitching stars set to make big impacts. While both Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow got some big league experience last year, they should each be watched very closely for their potential to have breakout seasons in 2017. Though the Pirates didn’t make the postseason this year, they have a great potential to return next season, as well as the many seasons to come after that.

Brewers: Chris Carter’s 2014 season wasn’t a fluke

It isn’t all that rare to see a player have a breakout season and excite people with their future potential, only to fall apart and never have a year close to their pinnacle year ever again. There were some thoughts to that being the case with Chris Carter, who hit 37 homers in 2014, only to launch a mere 24 the very next year. Thus, heading into this season, how he would perform in 2016 was very much up in the air, but he came through and blasted 41 big flies. Despite 2017 not looking too good for the Brewers, they should be thankful to have a proven slugger like Carter.

Reds: Adam Duval breaks out, with reinforcements not too far away

Finishing dead last in your division is never fun for any team, but the Reds have too good of a fan base and too rich of a history to land at the bottom of the pack. Their bright spot from 2016 was truly Adam Duvall going on a tear to hit 33 home runs, being one of their biggest power threats besides Jay Bruce, who went to the Mets midseason. But in addition to being thankful to have Duvall on their team, Reds fans should be thankful to have a deep farm system. With players such as Amir Garrett and Jesse Winker nearly ready, things should look up fairly soon in Cincy.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

Rangers: 95 wins was simply the start of greatness

For a team that had multiple injuries throughout the season, many of which were with their pitching staff, the Rangers obviously fared very well in 2016. With 95 wins, the Rangers won their division and should be setup nicely to do so again in 2017. Their division isn’t a powerhouse by any means, but with the Mariners nearly making the postseason in 2016 and the Astros looking to bounce back next season, things could get interesting in the AL Central. For that reason, the Rangers should be thankful to have the great team they do, assuming they all stay healthy.

Mariners: Made first strong run at playoffs since 2001

A couple of 20+ season postseason droughts have been broken over the past few seasons, including the Pirates and Blue Jays, but to say Mariners fans have been waiting awhile for a playoff appearance would be an understatement. To put things in perspective, Ichiro Suzuki had just 242 career MLB hits the last time Seattle was playing deep into October. However, Mariners fans should be thankful to finally see a playoff-caliber team put on display in 2016, with the likes of Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager ready to lead the charge next year.Blue Jays at Yankees

Astros: Signings of Brian McCann and Josh Reddick should energize young Astros

Trades or signings can always bring great talent to a given team, and the pickups of Brian McCann via trade and Josh Reddick by way of a large contract should help give the Astros an extra boost in 2017. After making the playoffs in 2015, many things kept Houston on the outside looking in for 2016. But even so, the Astros should be thankful to have picked up two solid veterans who, when combined with the talent already on the Astros’ roster, should put Houston back in a nice spot.

Angels: Albert Pujols is still a power threat

Most Angels fans would likely say they are most thankful to have two-time MVP Mike Trout — and generally agreed upon best player in baseball — on their team, but they shouldn’t overlook Albert Pujols. Though he gets his share of the spotlight, Pujols somewhat silently hit a team-best 31 blasts last season while recording his most RBI’s since 2009, and is now just nine homers away from 600 for his career. With those kind of numbers, the Angels should be thrilled to have Pujols producing big time at the plate alongside superstar Mike Trout.

Athletics: Khris Davis improved tremendously

On a team that was 21st in baseball in terms of home runs hit, Kris Davis was one of the few bright spots for the Athletics last year. Hitting a career-high 42 home runs — good enough for third most in baseball — Davis exceeded the expectations many placed on him by a huge margin, and Oakland should be thankful to have a player of his caliber on their team. Though things aren’t looking up by anyone’s calculations for the A’s to be in contention much at all next season, Davis will likely be a huger power threat for yet another year.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

Dodgers: Julio Urias and Jose de Leon ready to join Clayton Kershaw

Let me get this out of the way: There is currently no pitcher in all of baseball on the same level as Clayton Kershaw. Though there are a few pitchers who dominate just as much as he does, there’s something special about Kershaw that makes him a once-in-a-generation talent. With that said, the Dodgers, as well as Kershaw himself, should be thankful to have top-notch pitching talent ready to go for 2017. Julio Urias and Jose de Leon have been the Dodgers’ top prospects for several years, but they should become among their top pitching options for years to come.

Giants: They made the postseason, despite having a horrific second half

After the Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014, people joked (to a serious extent) that they would once again win a title in 2016. They got off to such a great start, that by the time the All-Star game rolled around, more and more people began to get on board with the idea. But San Francisco proceeded to have one of the worst collapses in MLB history, barely making the postseason. But the Giants should be thankful that they make the postseason, especially given the fact that if they can improve even the slightest in 2017, they should easily be back again.gray

Rockies: Jeff Hoffman and Jon Gray giving Rockies talent on pitching side

The hitting is already in place for the Rockies. While playing at Coors Field in Denver helps pad their numbers a bit, they currently have several impact hitters such as Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez, D.J. LeMahieu and Trevor Story. But while their pitching has been somewhat subpar recently, former first rounders Jeff Hoffman and Jon Gray showed signs of major improvement, for which the Rockies should be thankful. If they can get any sort of momentum going in their rotation, anything is truly possible for Colorado.

Diamondbacks: Their pitching staff can’t be any worse in 2017

While anything is always possible, a scenario where the Diamondbacks have a worse rotation in 2017 than the one they produced in 2016 is hard to imagine. For that alone, the D-back’s and their fan base should be very, very thankful. From top to bottom, their starting rotation was atrocious, seeing them finish dead last in terms of team ERA with a collective 5.09 earned run average. With even their bright spots Zack Greinke (4.37 ERA) and Shelby Miller (6.15 ERA) doing poorly in 2016, look for a major turnaround from them in 2017.

Padres: Wil Myers had a breakout season, with Hunter Renfroe to follow

The Padres haven’t had all that much success in the recent history of their ball club. That was true once again in 2016. But they should be thankful to have players such as Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe ready to lead their team in the coming years. After winning the Rookie of the Year in 2013 with the Rays, Wil Myers finally had the star year people have been waiting for, blasting 28 homers this season. Soon to join Myers in stardom appears to be Renfroe, who hit .371 with 4 homers and 14 RBI’s in just eleven games played last season.

*Keep in mind, this list was (obviously) made far before the 2017 season was even close to commencing. Any listed player could sign with a team other than their current club, or get traded away, completely throwing off everything I said for that particular team.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Q and A With Jacob Faria

Jacob Faria was drafted by the Rays in the 10th round of the 2011 draft, after going 8-1 with a 1.75 ERA his senior year at Gahr High School in California.faria

Since the draft, Faria has seen a great deal of success, making a steady progression through Tampa’s minor league system, and making big impressions along the way. Over that time, Faria has recorded a stellar career 3.13 ERA, moving all the way up to Triple-A for the second half of the 2016 season.

Between Faria’s time at Double-A and Triple-A in his most recent 2016 campaign, Faria saw his collective ERA jump from 1.92 the year before up over two full runs to 3.99 in 2016. But despite the numbers not seemingly showing it, Faria had another great season and made numerous strides in his path to the majors.

While he didn’t receive a big league call up in 2016, as some predicted he might towards the end of the year, many are anticipating that time to come at some point in 2017 if all continues to go as planned.

Jacob Faria — top prospect in the Rays’ organization — took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?

I became interested in baseball at the age of six, and my biggest baseball influence was my dad. He’s the reason I started getting into the game, and he sacrificed so much to help me get a shot at my dream.

2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?

My favorite baseball player growing up was Vladimir Guerrero. I grew up an Angels fan and we had season tickets, so getting to watch him play right field was awesome. But once I started getting into pitching, Jered Weaver became my favorite player, and I modeled my game after him.

3.) You were drafted by the Rays in the 10th round of the 2011 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?

My draft day was very hectic. I actually had so many scouts calling me that my dad had to take me out of school early. We went to my mom’s house from school (my parents are divorced) and set up two computers to watch the draft. Once they called my name, I stood up. I remember not being able to feel my legs. It was such a huge accomplishment for me at the time, and it awesome that I got to share that moment with my dad, mom and step dad.

4.) Over the course of your career to this point, you’ve had many great outings. Is there any one start of your career so far that stands out in your mind as the most memorable?

My most memorable performance came in my second Double-A outing in Montgomery on the Fourth of July last season in 2015. It was against Biloxi, the Brewers Double-A affiliate, and I went seven no-hit innings with 14 K’s.

5.) This season, you saw your combined season ERA jump from 1.92 in 2015 up to 3.99 in 2016. Do you attribute any specific thing to the two-run jump in ERA, or do you feel it was simply a result of you spending time in Triple-A and having to face more experienced hitters and tougher at-bats?

When I returned back to Montgomery this season a lot of things just didn’t go my way on the mound or on the field, and that just happens. But it kind of did affect me mentally. It was great to be able to face adversity, though, because it did help me become a mentally stronger pitcher, as well as taught me how to be on the mound and pitch when things don’t go my way or when I don’t have my best stuff. It’s easy to go out there when you have everything going for you, but you learn the most from the games when you don’t have your best stuff and still have to find a way to get out of the inning. Baseball isn’t a perfect game, and that’s what makes it so fun. Everyone expects players to be perfect all the time, but if baseball was perfect the game would be predictable. I’m just thankful for the adversity I went through, because I feel it helped me once I got to Durham, and helped me become a better pitcher overall.

6.) The Rays finished last in the American League East division in 2016. How do you feel about the Rays’ chances of once again becoming a contending team moving forward in 2017 and beyond with the talent you’ve witnessed in their minor league system?

The Rays have a lot of talent throughout the minor leagues, and that’s at every position. It’s really exciting to see guys do so well, too, during the year, because these guys are the Rays’ future. With that being said, I think the Rays have a great group of upcoming guys who will contribute to help them become contenders again.

7.) Talk a little bit about life on the road: What’s the most difficult aspect of it? What do you do to pass the time?

The most difficult thing of being on the road is just finding a routine. Every place we go is so different. The hotels are different; the surroundings are different; even the small things down to how to get to the field or the places to eat. You have to adjust quickly to whatever place you’re in, and by the time you actually do adjust you’re back on the bus or plane traveling to the next place. While I’m on the road, I mostly watch TV or movies, and I try to FaceTime my girlfriend as much as possible. I just try to rest overall and enjoy the downtime since I don’t get much of it.

8.) What do you feel went well in 2016? What are your goals for 2017?

I was healthy all year and made all my starts, which is something I strive to do every season. I also got stronger mentally, which helped me learn how to battle through certain situations. I did feel like my time in Triple-A taught me a lot about being an actual pitcher as well. My goals for 2017 are to get stronger and learn more about the game. I’m always trying to build off the previous season and apply what I learned from the year before to my current season.

9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?

My favorite TV show is ‘The Office’. I watch the entire series on Netflix every season. My favorite food is anything Cuban. I’m Cuban and finding Cuban food is tough during season, but thankfully I’m able to find a couple places to hold me over until I get home.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

A piece of advice I would give to kids is to just have fun; that’s the biggest and most important thing. This game is meant to be fun. Also, to keep working hard and don’t let anyone tell you no. I had so many people doubt me and tell me no, but all I did was use it as motivation to work hard.

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Big thanks to Jacob Faria for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on Twitter: @JDFaria36

Trout and Bryant Win MVP Award

The Most Valuable Player award was first given out in 1911 to Ty Cobb of the American League and Frank Schulte of the National League. Originally known as the Chalmers award, named after Hugh Chalmers, the award didn’t catch on as well as had been hoped, and therefore was discontinued after the 1914 season.

In 1922 the League Awards were established to honor the baseball player in the American League (National League began being recognized in 1924) who provided the greatest all-around service to their club. The winner — who received a medal and cash for winning — was voted on by a committee of eight baseball writers, with a player not being able to win more than once. Like the Chalmers awards, these awards didn’t last long, stopping in 1929.

Finally in 1931 the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Most Valuable Player award was established, which is the award still given out today.

Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.

Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Most Valuable Player award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player fourteen points, a second place vote gets nine points, a third place vote receives eight points, a fourth place vote is worth seven points, and so on, all the way until tenth place for one point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.

There is no specific criteria for the voters to use when choosing the Most Valuable Player, but some suggested attributes include value of a player to his team (strength of offense and defense), number of games played, and a player’s overall character, disposition, loyalty and effort.

The 2016 Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Thursday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:

AMERICAN LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Original Pick: David Ortiz

Finalists: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve

Winner: Mike Trout

Thoughts On Mike Trout Winning

Although I had David Ortiz winning the award in my original predictions, I knew in my heart that it was a long shot, as he wasn’t even among the finalists when they were revealed. With that said, however, I can’t argue with Mike Trout taking home the honor, picking up the second MVP award of his young career. trout

With his second MVP (his first came in 2014), Trout has now finished first or second in MVP voting for each of the full five seasons of his career to this point, joining Barry Bonds as the only other player to finish in the top two for five straight seasons. With his 29 home runs and 30 stolen bases, Trout also finished just one homer shy of becoming the first player ever to record two 30-30 seasons before age 25.

Trout won the MVP by a fairly large margin, earing 19 first place votes and 356 points, beating out Mookie Betts and his 31 homers, earning him 9 first place votes, good for 311 points, with the .338 hitter Jose Altuve coming in third, with 227 points, despite no first place votes. (The other two first place votes went to David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre, getting one apiece).

With the MVP award win, Trout looks to have all the makings of a Hall of Famer, beating the odds by winning the award on a losing team, which has proven to be no easy task in recent voting history.

Despite being in the majors for such a short time, when you’re as good as Mike Trout is, many more MVP wins being in the future is nearly a guarantee.

NATIONAL LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Original Pick: Kris Bryant

Finalists: Kris Bryant, Daniel Murphy and Corey Seager

Winner: Kris Bryant

Thoughts On Kris Bryant Winning

The American League MVP award went to a player who had already won an MVP in his career, being Mike Trout, but the National League portion was guaranteed to go to a player to never win the hardware. With Kris Bryant, Daniel Murphy and Corey Seager all being in their first time in the running, history was sure to be made. bryant

With that said, the voting wasn’t close. Bryant took home the MVP, doing so on the strength of 415 points and all but one of the first place votes. Coming after picking up the 2015 Rookie of the Year award in unanimous fashion, Bryant becomes the fourth player to win the MVP the season after winning R.O.Y., joining Cal Ripken Jr., Ryan Howard and Dustin Pedroia.

Finishing in second place was Murphy, who received the other first place vote, totaling 245 points, with Seager getting 240 points and placing third. While the majority of the baseball world felt confident that Bryant would win the award, I’m not sure anyone thought it would be by a whopping 170 points, truly showing just how great of a season he had.

Bryant blasted 39 homers this season to go along with his 102 RBI’s and 121 runs scored, marking off his season in the ultimate way, after helping the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years. Although Murphy’s .347 average to go along with 25 homers and Seager’s 26 home run rookie campaign were great, it was Bryant who was head and shoulders above the rest.

With the Cubs finally seeming relevant once again, and Bryant breaking out as one of the game’s top superstars, Bryant should continue to be in the running for MVP in the foreseeable future.

Porcello and Scherzer Win Cy Young Award

The Cy Young award — named after the Hall of Fame pitcher who died in 1955 — was first handed out in 1956 to Don Newcombe, with the goal of recognizing the “most valuable pitcher” from each season. The first eleven years of the award saw one pitcher per year receiving the honor, but in 1967 the Cy Young began being handed out to a pitcher from each league who was voted on as the best from the season.

Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.

Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Cy Young award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player seven points, a second place vote gets four points, a third place vote receives three points, a fourth place vote is worth two points, with a fifth place vote earning a single point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.

The 2016 Major League Baseball Cy Young award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Wednesday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:

AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG

Original Pick: Justin Verlander

Finalists: Corey Kluber, Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander

Winner: Rick Porcello

Thoughts On Rick Porcello Winning

The stats of the top pitchers in the American League from 2016 were so close that it was a challenge to choose the player who was the very best. Their ERA’s were within mere decimals of each other, with many other statistics also standing very close to even. XSTU6113.JPG

But Rick Porcello and his 22 wins wound up proving to be the most worthy of the Cy Young, as far as the voters were concerned, barely beating out Justin Verlander and his 3.04 ERA, who finished just five votes back of Porcello — the second closest margin since 1970. This also marked the second time in voting history that the player not receiving the most first place votes won the award.

The close race between the two caused a bit of controversy around the baseball world, as despite the closeness of the final tally, Verlander winning 6 more first place votes wasn’t able to do it for him in the end (due in great part to him not being named at all on two ballots).

Corey Kluber finished in third with his 3.14 ERA, with 3 first place votes and 98 overall points, with the favorite by many to win the entire award, Zach Britton, getting the other 5 first place votes and coming in fourth.

Porcello went 22-4 on the season, recording a 3.15 ERA along that time. For that reason alone, he is definitely deserving. However, there are still a lot of people who don’t feel that way. A lot of people felt that Verlander was far more dominant that Porcello throughout the year, and I find myself agreeing with them.

But it is what it is, and the focus here isn’t on Verlander’s extremely close loss (the second such of his career, with a 149-153 loss coming to David Price in 2013) but instead Rick Porcello’s deserving win.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG

Original Pick: Max Scherzer

Finalists: Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer

Winner: Max Scherzer

Thoughts On Max Scherzer Winning

As hard as picking the winner was from the candidates in the American League, the National League was just as difficult. With Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer all having very different cases for winning, choosing the one who stood above the rest wasn’t an easy task.

Hendricks led all of baseball in ERA with a mere 2.13; Lester posted a great ERA of his own, at 2.44, to go along withscherzer 19 wins; and Scherzer struck out a stellar 284 batters, despite his 2.96 ERA being the highest of the group.

But in the end, the voters went with Max Scherzer, and it wasn’t even close. Scherzer tallied up a total of 192 points, earning 25 first place votes, with Lester finishing runner up with just one first place vote and 102 points, leaving Hendricks coming in third with 2 first place votes and 85 points collectively. (The other two first place votes surprisingly went to Clayton Kershaw, who finished fifth in the voting).

The deciding factor for Scherzer’s Cy Young win likely came down to his utter dominance. Although he had the highest ERA of the finalists, Scherzer posted an 11.2 K/9 rate this season over the course of 220.1 innings, including a 20-strikeout performance against his former team, the Tigers, this year.

This marks Max Scherzer’s second career Cy Young award, joining him with Roy Halladay, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Gaylord Perry as the only other pitchers to win a Cy Young in both leagues.

But if 2016 was any indication, Scherzer may not be done setting records.

Fulmer and Seager Win Rookie of the Year Award

The Rookie of the Year award was first handed out in 1947 to Jackie Robinson, after he broke baseball’s color barrier and went on to have a great first season of what would become a Hall of Fame career. Given out to a single player again in 1948, the award was expanded in 1949 to include a player from each league, and has been that way ever since.

Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.

Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Rookie of the Year award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player five points, a second place vote gets three points, with a third place vote receiving one point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.

The 2016 Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Monday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:

AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Original Pick: Gary Sanchez

Finalists: Tyler Naquin, Gary Sanchez and Michael Fulmer

Winner: Michael Fulmer

Thoughts On Michael Fulmer Winning

There may have been three finalists for the American League Rookie of the Year, but in the end there were truly only two frontrunners for the award, being Michael Fulmer and Gary Sanchez. Despite Tyler Naquin having blasted 14 homers in his first season, he didn’t compare statistically to the two aforementioned rookies. fulmer

But despite narrowing the running down to two star players, that’s where the easy decisions ended. No one seemed to agree upon whether the R.O.Y. should go to Sanchez or Fulmer, but there truly was no bad choice. They each were very deserving.

However, it was Fulmer who ended up winning the award. Earning 26 of the 30 first-place votes, Fulmer tallied 142 points, and was the only player named to every single ballot cast. Sanchez placed second with his 91 points (earning the other 4 first place votes), leaving Naquin in third with 20 points.

Although Fulmer began to tail off a bit towards the end of the season, his 3.06 season long ERA over the course of 159 innings pitched proved to be more impressive to the BBWAA than Sanchez’s 20 HR in just 53 games. That larger sample size was likely what helped push Fulmer over the edge, joining him with the likes of Justin Verlander — the last Tigers’ pitcher to win the Rookie of the Year.

Only time will tell if Michael Fulmer will turn out to have the same level of success as his Tigers teammate.

NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Original Pick: Corey Seager

Finalists: Kenta Maeda, Trea Turner and Corey Seager

Winner: Corey Seager

Thoughts On Corey Seager Winning

Unlike the American League side, the National League portion wasn’t all that difficult of an award to predict the winner of. The heavy favorite to win the Rookie of the Year before the season even began, Seager took home the honor in unanimous fashion, following in the footsteps of Kris Bryant, who did so in 2015. seager

Seager becomes just the 21st player in history to receive all thirty first-place votes to win the R.O.Y. award, earning him a total of 150 points. The runner up for the award was Trea Turner, who racked up 42 points, followed by Kenta Maeda, who received 37.

Despite Turner hitting .342 on the season, and Kenta Maeda posting a good 3.48 ERA in his rookie campaign, no one could come close to stopping Seager from making his name as the 17th Rookie of the Year winner all-time for the Dodgers, who now have a R.O.Y. winner at every position except third base.

Seager’s 26 home runs and 72 RBI’s this season, in which he played in all but five games, made him the easy choice for Rookie of the Year. His 193 hits also mark the most for a rookie since 2001, adding yet another standout statistic to his rookie campaign.

But while his rookie season was unbelievable, many see Corey Seager only improving.

2016 Silver Slugger Awards

The 2016 Silver Slugger award winners were announced Thursday night on MLB Network. While the Gold Glove Awards given out on Tuesday focused on the defensive side of baseball, the Silver Slugger awards are given annually to the best offensive player at each position in both theimages1 American League and the National League.

Marking the 37th annual Silver Slugger awards, which began in 1980, the awards are voted on by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (managers can not vote for their own players), with voters considering several offensive categories in selecting the winners. Those categories include batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, in addition to coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value.

Barry Bonds’ 12 career Silver Slugger awards stand as the most all-time by a single player at any position, and no one from this season’s winners are even close. Here are the list of winners with my thoughts on each:

OUTFIELD

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Bonds holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as an outfielder, with twelve.

NL Winners – Charlie Blackmon (1st career), Christian Yelich (1st career) and Yoenis Cespedes (1st career)

AL Winners – Mark Trumbo (1st career), Mookie Betts (1st career) and Mike Trout (5th career)

For Mike Trout, it was business as usual on Thursday, as he won his fifth career Silver Slugger award — having done so in all of his full seasons in the big leagues. For the other five winners, they were all first-timers, as Charlie Blackmon, Christian Yelich, Yoenis Cespedes, Mark Trumbo and Mookie Betts each took home their first career hardware for their hitting.

FIRST BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Miguel Cabrera holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a first baseman, with seven.

NL Winner – Anthony Rizzo (1st career)

AL Winner – Miguel Cabrera (7th career)

Miguel Cabrera further increased his lead in regards to number of Silver Sluggers as a first baseman, winning his seventh in his Hall of Fame career. On the other side, World Champion Anthony Rizzo won his first Silver Slugger award for his career, but he very well could win several more before all is said and done.

SECOND BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Ryne Sandberg holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a second baseman, with seven.

NL Winner – Daniel Murphy (1st career)

AL Winner – Jose Altuve (3rd career)

After the seasons that both Daniel Murphy and Jose Altuve had, it was no shock to see them win the Silver Slugger award. Murphy picks up his first, while Altuve takes home the honor for the third time in his career. Whether they can each keep up their amazing 2016 season into 2017 is yet to be seen, but more Silver Sluggers could be on the horizon for them.

THIRD BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Wade Boggs holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a third baseman, with eight.

NL Winner – Nolan Arenado (2nd career)

AL Winner – Josh Donaldson (2nd career)

Nolan Arenado is going to go down as one of the best all-around third basemen in history when all is said and done, further adding to his career resume with his second career Silver Slugger. Josh Donaldson also picks up his second award, doing so by having a year much like his MVP-winning season in 2015.

SHORTSTOP

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Larkin holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a shortstop, with nine.

NL Winner – Corey Seager (1st career)

AL Winner – Xander Bogaerts (2nd career)

The future appears to be bright at the shortstop position, as Corey Seager and Xander Bogaerts look to be the top players at those positions for quite some time to come. Although anything can happen in the future, them each winning many more Silver Slugger awards seems very likely.

CATCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Piazza holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a catcher, with ten.

NL Winner – Wilson Ramos (1st career)

AL Winner – Salvador Perez (1st career)

Both Wilson Ramos and Salvador Perez picked up their first career Silver Slugger awards, but each have had plenty of great seasons to this point in their careers. However, they took things to another level in 2016, making them each extremely deserving of the award win.

PITCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Hampton holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a pitcher, with five.

Winner – Jake Arrieta (1st career)

Pitchers are generally known as the worst hitting players on any given team’s roster, but there are a few of them who can actually swing the bat fairly well. One of those such players is Jake Arrieta, who can really put on a show at times throughout any given season, in addition to being one of the best pitchers in the game.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: David Ortiz holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a Designated Hitter, with seven.

Winner – David Ortiz (7th career)

In his last season before retirement, David Ortiz had one of his best overall seasons of his career. At age forty, Ortiz posted numbers that would be considered amazing for someone even half his age. With him no longer going to be the designated hitter for the Red Sox, it’s fitting to see him go out with one final Silver Slugger win.

2016 Players’ Choice Awards

The 2016 Major League Baseball Players’ Choice Award winners were announced Wednesday night on MLB Network. Unlike the BBWAA awards, these awards (as the name would suggest) are voted on by players from around baseballplayers each September, when they receive a ballot to make their picks for each category.

Seven categories in all, American League players vote for American League players, with National League players voting for National League players; with the exception of the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, Always Game award and the Player of the Year award, in which players from both leagues vote for a single player.

The winning player for each category is awarded a grant from the MLB Players Trust, ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 dollars (260,000 total), depending on the award that they win. The money goes to the winner’s choice of charity, with some players deciding to split up the money between multiple causes. This marks the 25th annual Players Choice Awards, which began in 1992. Here’s a recap of the winners, with my thoughts on each:

OUTSTANDING ROOKIE AWARD

AL Nominees – Michael Fulmer, Tyler Naquin and Gary Sanchez

AL Winner – Michael Fulmer

NL Nominees – Aledmys Diaz, Corey Seager and Trea Turner

NL Winner – Corey Seager

Whether or not both of these players end up winning the official BBWAA Rookie of the Year award next week, seeing them recognized for their efforts on the field in their very first season is special. Each was very deserving of the honor, and it will be fun to watch and see what they will be able to do in 2017 and beyond.

OUTSTANDING PITCHER AWARD

AL Nominees – Zach Britton, Corey Kluber and Rick Porcello

AL Winner – Rick Porcello

NL Nominees – Kyle Hendricks, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer

NL Winner – Kyle Hendricks

Both Kyle Hendricks and Rick Porcello had fantastic, breakout seasons this year in their given leagues, and each played huge roles in getting their teams to the postseason. If they can both keep their great seasons going, they very well could be picking up this honor again next year.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD

AL Nominees – Yu Darvish, Ian Desmond and Mark Trumbo

AL Winner – Mark Trumbo

NL Nominees – Jose Fernandez, Rich Hill and Jean Segura

NL Winner – Jose Fernandez

After the season Mark Trumbo had, leading all of MLB in home runs, it was no shock that he won it for the American League. Picking up the award for the National League was the late Jose Fernandez, who was voted as the winner jut five days before his untimely death in September.

ALWAYS GAME AWARD

Nominees — Jose Altuve, Corey Seager and Francisco Lindor

Winner — Jose Altuve

Always giving his full effort night after night, Jose Altuve once again took home this award for the second straight season. Although Altuve is one of the smallest players in baseball, his impact is huge both on the players around him and the Astros as a whole.

OUTSTANDING PLAYER AWARD

AL Nominees – Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts and Mike Trout

AL Winner – Jose Altuve

NL Nominees – Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant and Daniel Murphy

NL Winner – Daniel Murphy

Altuve also was awarded the Outstanding Player Award, along with Daniel Murphy of the National League. Each were absolutely terrific this season, and each will look to keep that going next year. While the game of baseball is unpredictable, these two players being stars in 2017 is basically a sure thing.

MARVIN MILLER MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD

Nominees – Curtis Granderson, Anthony Rizzo and Justin Turner

Winner – Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson gives back to his community more than nearly every player in Major League Baseball, winning him the Marvin Miller award for 2016. Stats aside, this award is about what a player has done for others off of the field, and Granderson certainly did more than enough to win this honor.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD

Nominees – Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts and David Ortiz

Winner – Jose Altuve

Winning his third award of the night, Jose Altuve was voted on as the best overall player in baseball for 2016. With so many to choose from, this is one of the biggest honors given out for the Players’ choice awards. To have your peers say you’re the best the game has to offer truly speaks volumes for the level of player Altuve is.