Toronto Blue Jays End-of-Year Awards
Believe me, there are always silver linings. There are always more losers than there are winners, and even though the Toronto Blue Jays were one of the losers this year, they are on the right track.
Teams take years to rebuild, and barring another injury-plagued season, it appears they on their way to competing for the ultra-competitive AL East pennant.
As the 2012 season draws to a close, there is nothing left to do but hand out end-of-year awards.
Here is my choice for MVP, Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Player, as well as others. Have your say in the comments.
The Les Stroud Survivorman Award
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This award is presented to the Blue Jays player that has successfully completed the season without sustaining a major injury.
For the 2012 edition of the Toronto Blue Jays, injuries were the major storyline. Teams always need to deal with and prepare for injuries, but the onslaught of injuries that attacked their pitching staff this year was too much to overcome.
One Toronto Blue Jays pitcher not only stayed healthy, but actually excelled in a new role. In his first year as the closing pitcher, it is my pleasure to present the Les Stroud Survivorman Award to Casey Janssen.
The Ryan Leaf Biggest Bust Award
Ryan Leaf played for just three years after the San Diego Chargers made him the second overall pick in 1998.
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This award is presented to the Blue Jays player who has least fulfilled their expectations.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here. We all know where this is going.
Toronto Blue Jays Opening Day starter Ricky Romero had the weight of an entire team, city and potentially a country on his shoulders, and unfortunately he was unable to deliver.
He started the season 8-1, and the Blue Jays were in the thick of the AL East. From there, he suffered an historic collapse. He lost his next seven starts and did not record a win in 15 appearances. He saw his ERA balloon to 5.87 and was the epicenter of some serious confusion among fans as to what truly happened to the All-Star they knew.
I’m not saying his career is a bust, but this season he was the epitome of a bust. The Ryan Leaf Biggest Bust Award is presented to Ricky Romero.
The Rick Ankiel Comeback Award
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This award is presented to the Blue Jays player who exemplifies determination and hard work while completing a successful comeback to the major leagues.
If you haven’t heard about Steve Delabar’s comeback, take a minute to read about it, because it was truly a remarkable story.
Here are the Coles Notes on his story. He was playing minor league ball and fractured his elbow. After nine screws and one metal plate were surgically placed in his elbow, he had a short stint as a teacher and finally, after a lucky break, he was back playing baseball.
After a meteoric rise through the Seattle Mariners' minor league system, he was traded to the Blue Jays this season. Not only did he complete an unbelievable comeback, he also made MLB history by being the only player in history to strike out four batters in an extra inning.
The Rick Ankiel Comeback Award goes to Steve Delabar.
The Greg Oden Gone Too Soon Award
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This award is presented to the Blue Jays player who was unable to contribute to the team due to injury.
When Sergio Santos was brought into Toronto, he was welcomed with open arms. It appeared the Blue Jays had finally closed the revolving door that represented their closing pitcher's job.
Before the party could get started, Santos was put on the DL and later underwent season-ending surgery. He appeared in six games for the Blue Jays and had two saves.
All signs point to him being ready for the start of next season, so until next year, the Greg Oden Gone Too Soon Award goes to Sergio Santos.
The Babe Ruth Award for Passing Babe Ruth
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This award is presented to the Blue Jays player who successfully passes Babe Ruth in any major MLB category.
On September 19th, in New York, of all places, Omar Vizquel hit a double in the first game of a double-header against the New York Yankees. With the hit, he passed Babe Ruth on the all-time hits list, taking sole possession of 40th place.
Congratulations, Omar. I’m not sure which is more exciting—passing The Babe or being awarded the Babe Ruth Award for Passing Babe Ruth.
The Austin Powers Man of Mystery Award
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This award is presented to the Blue Jays player who has remained a mystery to fans despite the fact that he has been on the team for a number of years.
Remember when the Blue Jays gave Dustin McGowan a three-year extension? They must have seen something they liked, but before the fans got to see it, McGowan went to the DL with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Let’s hope whatever it was the Blue Jays thought they saw is as good as they think it was, because McGowan is on track to be healthy next year, but with him, who knows?
The Austin Powers Man of Mystery Award goes to Dustin McGowan.
Rookie of the Year
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This award is presented the Blue Jays player who most excels in his first year of competition at the major league level.
Injuries forced a number of rookies to step up this year and play for an extended period of time with the Blue Jays. Adeiny Hechavarria, Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra all got some MLB experience this season, but no one rookie was able to put up outstanding numbers.
The best news for a relief pitcher is generally no news. It means they went about their business, did not cause anyone any undue stress and did it again when the manager called their number.
One rookie stepped into the bullpen this year and did just that. At just 24 years of age, Aaron Loup posted a 2.64 ERA in 33 games this season. He struck out 21 while walking just two.
Loup was called up straight from Double-A New Hampshire and proved he was capable of pitching at the MLB level right away. Although there was stiff competition, this year’s Rookie of the Year award goes to Aaron Loup.
Most Improved Player
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This award is presented to the Blue Jays player who has shown the most improvement in their on-field production in all aspects of the game.
In 2011, the Blue Jays acquired a struggling outfielder from the St. Louis Cardinals who was supposed to be able to produce in a new city. The old “change of scenery” was supposed to light a fire under his bat, but it barely sparked in 2011.
He hit .173 with just 13 extra base hits after arriving in Toronto in 2011, but the Blue Jays brass did not give up on him. In 2012 he hit .223/.289/.399 with 22 home runs. Decent improvement, but where he really made strides was in the field.
Manning center field for an MLB club is no easy task, but he did it with relative ease. He made numerous highlight-reel catches and endeared himself to fans with his range in the outfield.
The Most Improved Player Award goes to Colby Rasmus.
Most Valuable Player
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This award is presented to the Blue Jays player judged most valuable to his team.
Edwin Encarnacion’s offensive explosion this year came about of absolutely nowhere.
A lot of critics said that he was afforded a luxury of batting in the same lineup as slugger Jose Bautista and that his production was directly tied to Jose’s.
When Bautista went down with a wrist injury, Encarnacion kept on trucking en route to a .280 batting average, a career-high .384 OBP, 42 home runs, and broke the 100 RBI plateau for the first time in his career.
It was a career year for Encarnacion, and he was rewarded mid-year with a three-year, $27 million contract extension. It appears the job security did not go to his head, either, as he continued to produce, well after he signed his contract and his team was all but mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.
There were not a lot of bright spots on this years Toronto Blue Jays team, but one was definitely the play of Edwin Encarnacion. He is without a doubt the Toronto Blue Jays 2013 most valuable player.
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