Andre Dawson receives the inaugural Curt Flood Award in PCA voting
NEW YORK, Oct. 22 – Players selected Nelson Cruz as Marvin Miller Man of the Year and gave Freddie Freeman double honors as Player of the Year and National League Outstanding Player in balloting for the 2020 Players Choice Awards.
Hall of Famer Andre Dawson won the first Curt Flood Award, given 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 Freeman, NL Players chose Trevor Bauer as Outstanding Pitcher, Jake Cronenworth as Outstanding Rookie and Daniel Bard as Comeback Player.
American League Players selected José Abreu as Outstanding Player, Shane Bieber as Outstanding Pitcher, Kyle Lewis as Outstanding Rookie and Carlos Carrasco as Comeback Player.
The Players Choice Awards are held in high regard by players because the winners are selected in balloting among their peers. This year’s balloting, presented by Topps, was conducted online by ElectionBuddy and took place throughout the major leagues in mid-September.
In balloting for the Marvin Miller Award, players are asked to vote for the player they “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.” Curtis Granderson, who retired after the 2019 season, won the award four times. Other recent honorees include Anthony Rizzo (2017), Adam Jones (2015), Clayton Kershaw (2014) and Mariano Rivera (2013).
The award is dedicated to Marvin Miller, who served as the Major League Baseball Players Association’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.
Cruz, the Minnesota Twins’ designated hitter, continues to set an example to his fellow players with his commitment, energy and passion at age 40. He started his Boomstick23 Foundation in 2016 to help people in his native Dominican Republic. In recent years, Cruz has donated a fire engine and an ambulance and helped build a police station in his hometown of Las Matas De Santa Cruz, while giving time and money to expand access to health care. He received the 2020 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at the ESPYs in June and won the 2019 Carl R. Pohlad Award for his community work in Minnesota.
Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright were the other Marvin Miller award finalists.
Freeman, in his 10th full season as the Atlanta Braves’ first baseman, excelled in both traditional and advanced metrics for the NL East champions. He ranked second to Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez with a 3.4 fWAR and posted career bests in batting average (.341), on-base percentage (.462) and slugging (.640) while playing in all 60 games during the abbreviated season. Freeman recorded his 1,500th career hit with a Sept. 9 home run against Miami, and passed Andruw Jones and Eddie Mathews on the franchise’s career doubles list with a league-leading 23 two-baggers. He finished ahead of Abreu and Bieber in voting for the game’s Player of the Year.
Dawson, aka “The Hawk,’’ exuded a quiet dignity and leadership qualities during a 21-year career with the Expos, Cubs, Marlins and Red Sox. In 1987, as a superstar free agent during the height of collusion and receiving no offers from clubs, Dawson took matters into his own hands by offering the Chicago Cubs a blank contract and asking the club to fill in a salary. He agreed to an undervalued deal ($500,000 plus bonuses) with Chicago and went on to win the NL MVP award, hitting 49 home runs with 137 RBIs. The offer from Dawson to the Cubs illustrated the Players’ position in their collusion grievances, which eventually produced a $280 million settlement with MLB owners.
The Curt Flood Award commemorates the 50th anniversary of Flood’s historic judicial fight against baseball’s reserve system, which paved the way for free agency in the 1970s. Dawson was selected over three other nominees -- Don Baylor, Mark Belanger and Jim Bunning – selected by a panel of distinguished former and current Players Association executives.
All told, the 2020 Players Choice Award winners will designate charities to receive grants totaling $60,000 from the Major League Baseball Players Trust. Since 1992, the Players Trust has recognized the outstanding on-and-off-field performances of Players Choice Awards recipients by contributing more than $5 million to charities around the world.
The Topps Company is a longtime partner of the MLBPA, documenting the game’s history through innovative trading cards and products.
Here are the individual AL and NL award winners:
AL Outstanding Player
José Abreu of the Chicago White Sox entered some distinguished company this season, joining Hall of Famers Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski and Lou Gehrig as the fourth player in American League history to lead the league in hits and RBIs. Abreu also became the first AL player to lead the league in RBIs in consecutive seasons since Boston’s David Ortiz achieved the feat in 2005-2006. He ranked among the league’s top five in batting (.317), hits (76), homers (19), slugging (.617), OPS (.987), extra base hits (34) and total bases (148). DJ LeMahieu and Mike Trout were the other finalists.
AL Outstanding Pitcher
Shane Bieber was dominant from start to finish on the way to winning pitching’s “Triple Crown’’ for the Cleveland Indians. He led the majors with 122 strikeouts and a 1.63 ERA and tied the Cubs’ Yu Darvish for first in baseball with eight victories. Bieber became the first Indians pitcher to capture the AL Triple Crown since Bob Feller in 1940, and the first pitcher to lead the majors in all three categories since Minnesota’s Johan Santana captured the Triple Crown in 2006. Lance Lynn and Gerrit Cole were the runners-up.
AL Outstanding Rookie
Kyle Lewis, a former Golden Spikes Award winner at Mercer University, lived up to the promise that led the Seattle Mariners to select him with the 11th pick in MLB’s 2016 amateur draft. Lewis showed advanced maturity as Seattle’s everyday center fielder and No. 3 hitter in the batting order. He ranked first among major-league rookies with 37 runs and 34 walks and showed consistent power to all fields, launching 11 home runs in 58 games. Luis Robert and James Karinchak finished behind Lewis in the balloting.
AL Comeback Player
Carlos Carrasco, aka “Cookie,’’ won the Roberto Clemente Award and inspired teammates, opponents and fans with his courageous fight against leukemia in 2019. This year he returned to the mound and was a major contributor in the Cleveland Indians’ playoff run. Carrasco logged a 3-4 record with a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts and passed Charles Nagy, CC Sabathia, Early Wynn and Bob Lemon to move into fourth place on the franchise’s career strikeout list with 1,305. Salvador Perez and José Ramírez were the other finalists.
NL Outstanding Player
Freddie Freeman excelled in both traditional and advanced metrics for the NL East champion Atlanta Braves. He ranked second to Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez with a 3.4 fWAR and posted career bests in batting average (.341), on-base percentage (.462) and slugging (.640) while playing in all 60 games during the abbreviated season. Freeman recorded his 1,500th career hit with a Sept. 9 home run against Miami, and passed Andruw Jones and Eddie Mathews on the franchise’s career doubles list with a league-leading 23 two-baggers. Juan Soto and Mookie Betts were the runners-up.
NL Outstanding Pitcher
Trevor Bauer played a pivotal role in helping the Cincinnati Reds to their first postseason berth since 2013. He led the National League with a 1.73 ERA, a 0.79 WHIP, 5.06 hits per nine innings and a .159 opponents’ batting average, while finishing second to Jacob deGrom with 100 strikeouts. Bauer became only the fifth pitcher in Reds’ franchise history to lead the NL in ERA and the first to accomplish the feat since Ed Heusser in 1944. Bauer beat out Jacob deGrom and Yu Darvish for the award.
NL Outstanding Rookie
Jake Cronenworth, acquired by San Diego from Tampa Bay with Tommy Pham as part of a four-player trade in December, had an immediate impact with his new club. He hit .360 (9-for-25) in eight games at first base while filling in for the injured Eric Hosmer, then settled into a productive role as the Padres’ regular second baseman. Cronenworth led National League rookies with 26 runs, 22 extra base hits, 15 doubles and 82 total bases, and ranked second in hits, walks, RBIs and OPS. Devin Williams and Alec Bohm were the other finalists.
NL Comeback Player
Daniel Bard, once a prime prospect with the Boston Red Sox, spent time with the Cubs, Rangers, Pirates, Cardinals and Mets before announcing his retirement from baseball in 2017 at age 32. Colorado signed him out of a tryout session in February, and Bard made his first big-league appearance in seven years with a scoreless outing in relief against Texas on July 25. He went on to post a 4-2 record with a 3.65 ERA and six saves for the Rockies, while featuring a fastball that averaged 97 mph on the radar gun. Wil Myers and Adam Duvall finished second and third in the voting.
For more information on the 2020 Players Choice Awards, be sure to visit the link here.