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Every Major MLB Award, Ranked (Part I of V)

How many awards does the MLB give out? It’s an interesting question and by my count, I have found 25 awards that the MLB has, for the most part, regularly given out to players.

Last week I took some time to look at championship trophies and awards across many different sports and leagues. This week I enter a deep dive into just what the MLB awards.

Today I announce my #25-21 awards.

 

Number 25: Manager of the Year AwardEmbed from Getty Images

Award Type: Voted by Press (Yearly)

Most Recent Winner/s: Kevin Cash (AL) and Gabe Kapler (NL)

Awarded To: The best manager from the past season in each of the American and National Leagues

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Each of these awards has a good case for why they are the worst trophy that the MLB awards. I want to get that out as soon as possible because I had to spend a while to find a reason, any reason, as to why each award should be ranked higher than the other.

For the Manager of the Year award it found its way to the bottom of the barrel because its design is incredibly boring and self-serving. Loud and proud in the middle of trophy design is an advertisement for the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) with their green logo (which doesn’t look good). Put that on the middle of a silver baseball diamond outline on a black diamond background and place it on a black trapezoid base. It has a design typical for the runners-up in your local recreation league. Worst of all, it has no reference or imagery of being a coach either. Trophies should symbolize what they represent.

 

Number 24: Hank Aaron AwardEmbed from Getty Images

Award Type: Voted by Press and Fans (Yearly)

Most Recent Winner/s: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (AL) and Bryce Harper (NL)

Awarded To: The top hitter in each of the American and National Leagues

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One would think that the best hitter in each league should be getting a top-tier award. One would also think that an award named after one of the best and most respected hitters in history would be a top-tier award. Instead, we get the most busy baseball award I could find.

The symbolism works as the main idea is a home plate with a baseball bat on top of it: the typical result after a player puts up some powerful contact. And, honestly, even the slanted wooden base isn’t bad either as it helps to showcase what the award is. However, the ribbon on it is so over-the-top, the granite-like plate is out of place, and the bat being so small doesn’t look good. The only thing saving this trophy from the last spot on the list is that it’s named after Hank Aaron. Truthfully, these are the hairs I had to split to differentiate these awards.

 

Number 23: Comeback Player of the Year AwardEmbed from Getty Images

Award Type: Voted by Press (Yearly)

Most Recent Winner/s: Trey Mancini (AL) and Buster Posey (NL)

Awarded To: The player who “re-emerged on the baseball field during a given season” in each of the American and National leagues

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Crystals are nice. There is a reason that everybody wants a nice Swarovski desk ornament. It’s hard to mess up a crystal award. And, truthfully, while the Comeback Player of the Year Award (CPOTYA) is just a crystal block, I have a legitimate reason as to why I find it to at least not be the worst trophy in the MLB.

Think of every time you go to a museum gift shop. They always have an item like this DSR cube. They’re fun, but one problem with many of them is that the interior design is not in 3-dimensions, so when someone views the cube from the wrong side nothing can really be seen. I’d like to think that’s the same for the CPOTYA. It’s fitting symbolism. Last year we didn’t have you (the player), but now that we’ve turned the corner you came back and shined yet again. For no other reason than I find that to be incredibly fitting and funny, the CPOTYA is the 3rd worst trophy in the MLB.

 

Number 22: Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year AwardEmbed from Getty Images

Award Type: Voted by Press (Yearly)

Most Recent Winner/s: Randy Arozarena (AL) and Jonathan India (NL)

Awarded To: The best regular-season rookie in each of the American and National leagues

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I have one thought on the Rookie of the Year award that can summarize why this award is so low on our list.

It looks cheap.

Be honest with yourself if you’re objecting to my placing the ROY 22nd (out of 25 awards) and think back to your years in elementary, middle, and high school. Now think about walking around the gym at your school. Think about the trophy cases there. Plaques like this- a wooden base, some simple elements all in their own boxes, and a small engraving of a name on the bottom- are the most prevalent thing ever. I’d almost argue to say that nearly everybody ever has gotten some type of award or achievement on a wooden board like this. For this to be the way to highlight the great achievements a rookie had in their first year is lazy at best and it’s honestly pathetic. If it wasn’t named after Jackie Robinson, it’d probably be last on this list.

 

Number 21: Commissioner’s Historic Achievement AwardEmbed from Getty Images

Award Type: Presented by Commissioner’s Discretion (Varied)

Most Recent Winner/s: Shohei Ohtani (2021)

Awarded To: The person- or group- who has made a ‘major impact on the sport’ of baseball

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Did you know that this was an award that the MLB gives out? I first heard about it this year when Shohei Ohtani was presented the award and it is the basis for why I am putting out this weeklong series of posts. Discounting the 2001 Mariners team who won for setting a new high-water-mark for wins in a season, this award has been given to just 12 players (1 radio announcer and Rachel Robinson). Of note, the Yankees have had 5 winners formerly play for their team (Derek Jeter [2014], Mariano Rivera [2013], Ichiro Suzuki [2005], Roger Clemens [2004], and Rickey Henderson [2002]).

All that being said, the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award is the most basic design I have seen for a trophy. On today’s list I highlighted a problem with boring trophies, trophies that have too much going on, trophies that must be a joke, and cheap trophies. The Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award is certainty not cheap (it’s made by Tiffany & Co.), it’s not a joke, it’s very simple, and it’s not necessarily boring. But it is basic. It’s a golden baseball on a silver pedestal. That’s it (see the official press photo, here). If this trophy was not given out on rare occasions for when players make a true mark on the game- i.e. most career saves, new single-season hit record, stolen base record, most home runs in a season, being a face of baseball with nearly 0 drama for 20 years, etc.- it’d be dead last for completely missing on the expectation.

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