ESPYs 2014: Ranking Nominees for Best Male and Female Athletes

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 27: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts to a play in the third quarter against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 27, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Depending on your perspective, the ESPY Awards is either a fun night where the stars of sports and entertainment converge, or it's the absolute worst and should be killed with fire.

If you're reading this article, then you must care somewhat. The ESPYs aren't any sort of measuring stick for a player's legacy, but it is a time to honor the best athletes and be entertained in the process.

Two of the biggest awards to be handed out on Wednesday are for the "Best Male Athlete" and "Best Female Athlete." Below are each of the four nominees for each award, ranked in descending order in terms of their chances of winning.

 

Best Male Athlete

4. Floyd Mayweather

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 03:  Floyd Mayweather Jr. smiles while taking on Marcos Maidana during their WBC/WBA welterweight unification fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 3, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Floyd Mayweather is the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. That much isn't in doubt.

When comparing him to athletes from other sports, though, it gets kinda tough because he fights twice a year. Mayweather may be training year-round, but when it comes to actually performing, his body of work simply isn't as impressive as the other three candidates up for this award.

 

3. Miguel Cabrera

DETROIT, MI - JUNE 30:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates after hitting a solo home run to left center field during the sixth inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park on June 30, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Phot
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Miguel Cabrera hit for the Triple Crown in 2012, and that still wasn't good enough to get him the 2013 ESPY for Best Male Athlete. In the 2013 season, Cabrera didn't hit for the Triple Crown but did win another MVP Award.

Maybe the Detroit Tigers star will get ESPY recognition a year too late, but more than likely, he's not a major contender for this award.

 

2. Peyton Manning

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 02:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos looks to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Get
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The stink from Super Bowl XLVIII hasn't completely worn off of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The Seattle Seahawks' 43-8 victory was as dominant as you're going to get in a game of that magnitude.

Manning did extremely well last season and helped advance his team further in the postseason than Kevin Durant did. If the All-Pro quarterback wins, nobody's going to complain.

But watching the first snap of the game roll toward the goal line and then throwing two interceptions leaves a bad lasting image of Manning's 2013 campaign.

 

1. Kevin Durant

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK  MAY 31: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the game against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 31, 2014 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma Cit
Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images

Durant may have won the NBA MVP Award, but many believe he's still the second-best player in the league behind LeBron James.

Since the "Best Male Athlete" category only weighs the last season's results, the Oklahoma City Thunder star is the more deserving candidate.

It's easy to forget just how good Durant was this past year. He averaged 32.0 points a game, which led the league, while his 29.8 player efficiency rating and 19.2 win shares were both best in the NBA. The five-time All-Star also had that ridiculous run of 41 games with 25-plus points, per SportsCenter:

Basketball is a much easier sport when it comes to saluting individual stars, so Durant gets the slight edge over Manning.

 

Best Female Athlete

4. Mikaela Shiffrin

Feb 21, 2014; Krasnaya Polyana, RUSSIA; Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) celebrates winning gold in ladies' alpine skiing slalom during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Bilow-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Nobody else on this list has a gold medal in the past year, so that helps Mikaela Shiffrin stand out from the pack. The allure of that gold medal is immediately canceled out by the fact that it came in women's slalom at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Perhaps if Shiffrin competed in a more mainstream sport or had won multiple medals, she could be a threat to win this award.

More than likely, she'll lose out to one of the more well-known female stars.

 

3. Breanna Stewart

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 08:  Breanna Stewart #30 of the Connecticut Huskies holds up a piece of the net after a 79-58 victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Championship game at Bridgestone Arena on April 8, 201
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Breanna Stewart is riding the momentum from the Connecticut women's basketball team's unbeaten season. She was also named The Associated Press' National Player of the Year, establishing herself as the best player on the best team in the country.

The biggest obstacle for Stewart is the fact that she wasn't a force of nature like Brittney Griner was at Baylor. Griner was so good that she set the bar at an almost unattainable standard. Stewart's season wasn't so otherworldly as to put her on a massive pedestal.

 

2. Maya Moore

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 8: Maya Moore #23 speaks with the media after the game against during the WNBA game on July 8, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using
David Sherman/Getty Images

The difference between Stewart and Maya Moore is that the former is one of the top players in women's college basketball and the latter is one of the best players in women's basketball overall.

The Minnesota Lynx star is fresh off a season in which she was named to the WNBA First Team, won the WNBA Finals and took home the WNBA Finals MVP Award. There isn't much more left to accomplish in one season.

This award is supposed to go to the "Best Female Athlete," and they don't come much better than Moore.

 

1. Ronda Rousey

John Locher/Associated Press

Earlier in the article, I wrote about how Floyd Mayweather fighting twice a year hurt his chances for this award. It may seem contradictory to put Ronda Rousey here, but what she's lacked in volume, she's more than made up for in efficiency. Her last three fights since the 2013 ESPYs have lasted a combined two minutes and 20 seconds.

That's less time than it takes to watch the trailer for Expendables 3.

Rousey is in a completely different category when it comes to the competition. She could very well take two ESPYs home since she's also nominated in the "Best Fighter" category. Rousey took to Twitter to issue her gratitude for being nominated:

The UFC women's bantamweight champion is not just the "Female Athlete of the Year"she's arguably the most dominant athlete in sports, period.