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 #15-11 awards.
Number 15: Platinum Glove AwardEmbed from Getty Images
Award Type: Voted by Fans (Yearly)
Most Recent Winner/s: Carlos Correa (AL) and Nolan Arenado (NL)
Awarded To: The top voted defensive player by fans of players who won a gold glove, per league.
With the Gold Glove ranking 16th on my voting, it should be no surprise that the more exclusive platinum glove comes ahead of it. However, it should also be expected- for many of the same reasons as to why I didn’t like the Gold Glove Award, as those rules still apply- that the platinum glove didn’t skyrocket to a much higher position. A gold glove will be awarded to 18 players annually (9 per league). A platinum glove goes to just 1 player in each league.
Outside of the glove, baseballs, and nameplate on the trophy now being colored platinum, these is nothing different from these awards. It also only started in 2011, so it doesn’t have much history behind it outside of the shared history with the gold glove. All-in-all, I think middle-of-the-pack is fair.
Number 14: Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award Embed from Getty Images
Award Type: Voted on by Coaches, Players, and the Press (Yearly)
Most Recent Winner/s: Multiple (See list here)
Awarded To: The top offensive player at each position, in each league, each year.
Taking the next spot above the two different glove awards comes the Silver Slugger award. It figures that the gold glove and silver slugger would be near each other on the list as they are awarded similarly and have an importance factor that is about the same as well. However, the Silver Slugger award does a lot of things better than the gold glove: the trophy is standardized.
For each silver slugger award they have the exact same 3 foot long silver bat on a home plate shaped base with a small plaque of sterling silver. It stands upright on its own, it looks cool, and it cuts award from a gimmick that annoys me. It’s a solid award.
Number 13: Home Run Derby AwardEmbed from Getty Images
Award Type: Won by Accomplishment (Yearly)
Most Recent Winner/s: Pete Alonso (2021)
Awarded To: The winner of the Home Run Derby
What’s better than winning one silver bat? Well, winning two. Most awards in baseball are met with humility from each player, honoring what they accomplished at the end of a long season. The Home Run Derby trophy is anything but. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of players being humble and gracious in their winning an award. However, I also understand that baseball needs a more fun image and the Home Run Derby is one of those events where personality shines through.
Speaking of the trophy itself, it improves upon the silver slugger by keeping it simple in theory and evokes the spirit of the Home Run derby in practice. It doesn’t need it’s own display case built into the design of the trophy. It needs it’s own display case to buy because you won the trophy. It’s flashy for a flashy event. It’s a solid trophy.
Number 12: Batting Title Awards (AL/NL)Embed from Getty Images
Award Type: Won by Accomplishment (Yearly)
Most Recent Winner/s: Yuli Gurriel (AL) and Trea Turner (NL)
Awarded To: The top hitter by batting average in each league at the end of each season
While one bat on a trophy may seem practical, and two bats on a trophy may seem cool, the best of the “it’s a baseball bat” awards is by far the award for winning a batting title. What is better than an award that you could use as the thing you won the award for: swinging a bat- theoretically of course, unless you’re Rob Gronkowski.
It should be no surprise that the batting title award, which is literally just a silver bat, wins here. And, if you’re not sold on my reasoning yet, check out this photo of Bill Madlock after he won his 4th batting title. What’s cooler: 4 Silver Slugger trophies or 4 batting title trophies? The choice is obvious.
Number 11: Reliever of the Year Awards (AL/NL)
Award Type: Voted by Press (Yearly)
Most Recent Winner/s: Liam Hendriks (AL) and Josh Hader (NL)
Awarded To: The best reliever in baseball over the past year
Unfortunately the photo above is the best photo I could find of the current reliever of the year award trophy. Named in the American League after Mariano Rivera and in the National League after Trevor Hoffman, the two awards showcase each former relieving great in each of their pitching stances. The MLB has transitioned a lot of awards that have been named in honor of players to these statuettes and many of them- this included- are good. I mean, how could I, a proud Yankees fan, say that a trophy depicting the greatest reliever of all time, a Yankee, is bad?
I’m not saying it’s bad. 11th place out of 25 trophies is solidly middle-of-the-pack. However, the reliever of the year award used to be so much cooler (see here). The current award is cool, but that one looks incredible. Heck, it looks like a starship coming out of Star Wars. I’m not even a big Star Wars fan, yet I think that is incredible. However, that award only lasted so long as well. It replaced a plaque akin to the Rookie of the Year Award (ugly), which replaced a trophy with a fire helmet (weird), which replaced a different plaque (WHY?). Unfortunately, this newest iteration of the award has no good history to help its case. It’s cool, but it took a while to get here.