NEW YORK, Oct. 28 – Shohei Ohtani was named overall Player of the Year and American League Outstanding Player and Marcus Semien received the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award in balloting for the 2021 Players Choice Awards presented by MLB The Show.
The late Mark Belanger, a longtime player advocate as an executive board member and the first former player hired to work for the union, is the 2021 recipient of the Curt Flood Award, which goes to “a former player, living or deceased, who in the image of Flood demonstrated a selfless, longtime devotion to the Players Association and advancement of Players’ rights.”
In addition to Ohtani, AL players chose Robbie Ray as Outstanding Pitcher, Ryan Mountcastle as Outstanding Rookie and Trey Mancini as Comeback Player. National League players selected Bryce Harper as Outstanding Player, Max Scherzer as Outstanding Pitcher, Jonathan India as Outstanding Rookie and Buster Posey as Comeback Player.
The Players Choice Awards have special significance to players because the winners are chosen by their peers. This year’s balloting, presented by MLB The Show, took place throughout the major leagues in September. The winners were revealed today during the 6 p.m. ET ESPN SportsCenter.
Ohtani made history in July as the first player to be selected to the All-Star Game as a position player and a pitcher. He hit 46 home runs, drove in 100 runs and logged a .965 OPS as the Angels’ principal designated hitter while posting a 9-2 record with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 23 starts.
Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Harper, in his third season as an outfielder with the Philadelphia Phillies, were the other Player of the Year finalists. Guerrero and Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez joined Ohtani as AL Outstanding Player nominees.
2021 Marvin Miller Man of the Year
In balloting for Marvin Miller Man of the Year, players were asked to vote for the player “whose leadership most inspires others to higher levels of achievement.” Curtis Granderson, who retired after the 2019 season, won the award four times. Other recent honorees include Nelson Cruz (2020), Anthony Rizzo (2017), Adam Jones (2015) and Clayton Kershaw (2014).
The award is dedicated to Marvin Miller, who served as the MLBPA’s first full-time executive director, from 1966 through 1982, and guided its emergence as one of the country’s strongest and most cohesive labor unions.
Semien set a major-league record for second basemen with 45 home runs this season, surpassing Davey Johnson’s 43 homers with the 1973 Atlanta Braves. He was an iron man on the field, leading the majors with 724 plate appearances and joining Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield as one of two players to appear in all 162 games. Off the field, Semien provided leadership as a respected clubhouse voice and a member of the MLBPA’s executive subcommittee. He is a three-time club nominee for the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s Heart and Hustle Award.
St. Louis Cardinals reliever Andrew Miller and Scherzer, who pitched for the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers this season, were the other Marvin Miller award finalists.
2021 Curt Flood Award
The Curt Flood Award commemorates Flood’s historic judicial fight against baseball’s reserve system, which paved the way for free agency in the 1970s. The 2021 nominating committee, made up of seven former and current MLBPA executives, unanimously selected Belanger, who became a confidant of Miller and then-general counsel Don Fehr during his 18-year MLB career. Upon his retirement, Belanger went to work for the MLBPA, where he served as a special assistant for 15 years before his death at age 54.
The 2021 winners will have the opportunity to help their communities by partnering with the Major League Baseball Players Trust. On behalf of the players, $70,000 will be provided by the Players Trust to charities identified by the awardees. Since 1996, the Players Trust has recognized the outstanding on-and off-field performances of Players Choice Awards recipients, investing more than $5 million in charities identified by the players.
The award winners will receive a Players Choice Award courtesy of Candy Digital.
All of the 2021 winners are featured in videos produced in conjunction with Toldright, a media production company based in Orlando, Fla. The videos can be accessed on the MLBPA’s Instagram and Twitter platforms and viewed on the official landing page here.
Here are the individual on-field award winners:
Shohei Ohtani – Player of the Year and AL Outstanding Player
Shohei Ohtani elicited comparisons to Babe Ruth with his all-around performance in 2021. He was the first player to be selected to an All-Star Game as a pitcher and hitter, and the first two-way All-Star Game starter in league history. He participated in the MLB Home Run Derby and ranked third in the majors with 46 homers. Ohtani was the first American League player ever to amass 45 home runs, 25 stolen bases and 100 runs scored. On the mound, he went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts, with 156 strikeouts in 130.1 innings.
Bryce Harper – NL Outstanding Player
A former PCA recipient for NL Outstanding Player in 2015, Bryce Harper put up massive power numbers for the Philadelphia Phillies this season. He led the majors in slugging (.615) and OPS (1.044) and became the fourth active player to hit his 250th career home run before age 29. Harper joined Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Mike Trout in that elite club. Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Austin Riley were the other NL Outstanding Player finalists.
Robbie Ray – AL Outstanding Pitcher
Robbie Ray flourished in the American League in his first full season with the Blue Jays. The hard-throwing lefty led the AL in ERA (2.84), WHIP (1.04), innings pitched (193.1) and quality starts (23) while finishing first in the majors with 248 strikeouts. In August, Ray logged his 1,241st career strikeout to break Yu Darvish’s record for most strikeouts in a pitcher’s first 1,000 innings. Gerrit Cole and Lance Lynn were the other finalists.
Max Scherzer – NL Outstanding Pitcher
Max Scherzer added a third PCA Outstanding Pitcher award to his resume after previously winning the award in 2013 and 2017. He made his eighth All-Star team and became the fifth pitcher to start at least one All-Star Game in both leagues. Scherzer’s 0.86 WHIP led all of baseball, and his 2.46 ERA was the second-best mark in the National League. After a deadline day trade from the Nationals to the Dodgers, he posted a 7-0 record with a 1.98 ERA in 11 starts. In September, he became the 19th pitcher in MLB history to eclipse 3,000 strikeouts. Corbin Burnes and Zack Wheeler were runners-up for the award.
Ryan Mountcastle – AL Outstanding Rookie
Ryan Mountcastle made his MLB debut in 2020 with the Baltimore Orioles and emerged as a prolific power hitter this season. He led MLB in home runs by a rookie (33) and ranked second in RBIs with 89. On June 19th against Toronto, he became the first Orioles rookie since Nick Markakis in 2006 to homer three times in a game. Mountcastle earned AL Rookie of the Month for June and took home an AL Player of the Week honor as well. Randy Arozarena and Adolis García were the other finalists.
Jonathan India – NL Outstanding Rookie
Jonathan India, selected fifth overall out of the University of Florida in the 2018 MLB Draft, shot through the Cincinnati Reds’ system quickly before his debut in April 2021. India won the Reds’ Opening Day second base job and logged a .383 OBP out of the leadoff spot while leading all qualified rookies in overall OBP (.376), walks (71), doubles (34) and runs scored (98). He was the first Reds rookie to have 20 home runs and 10 steals in a season since Bernie Carbo in 1970. Dylan Carlson and Patrick Wisdom were the other finalists.
Trey Mancini – AL Comeback Player
Trey Mancini, a former eighth-round pick out of Notre Dame, rejoined the Baltimore Orioles in 2021 after missing the entire 2020 season while fighting stage 3 colon cancer. He was diagnosed in March of 2020, and his inspirational battle was recognized throughout the baseball world. This year, Mancini was runner-up in the Home Run Derby, hit his 100th career home run, collected his 600th career hit and played in 147 games. Mitch Haniger and Cedric Mullins were the other finalists for the award.
Buster Posey – NL Comeback Player
After opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, Buster Posey resumed his regular catching duties and was an integral part of a 107-win season for the San Francisco Giants. The 2012 NL MVP, four-time Silver Slugger recipient and three-time World Series champion made his seventh All-Star team this season and collected his 1,500th career hit. Posey was at his most productive in Giants’ victories, slashing .316/.417/.538 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs. He previously won the PCA’s NL Comeback Player award in 2012. Brandon Crawford and Joey Votto were the other finalists.
For more information on the 2021 Players Choice Awards, be sure to visit the link here.