SINCE 1992, THE PLAYERS CHOICE AWARDS HAVE RECOGNIZED THE OUTSTANDING ON- AND OFF-FIELD PERFORMANCES OF PLAYERS.
THE AWARDS HAVE SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE TO PLAYERS BECAUSE THE WINNERS ARE SELECTED IN BALLOTING AMONG THEIR PEERS.
THE 2021 PLAYERS CHOICE AWARDS WINNERS WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO HELP THEIR COMMUNITIES BY PARTNERING WITH THE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYERS TRUST. ON BEHALF OF THE PLAYERS, $70,000 WILL BE PROVIDED BY THE PLAYERS TRUST TO CHARITIES IDENTIFIED BY THE AWARDEES. SINCE 1996, THE PLAYERS TRUST HAS RECOGNIZED THE OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES OF PLAYERS CHOICE AWARDS RECIPIENTS, INVESTING MORE THAN $5 MILLION IN CHARITIES IDENTIFIED BY THE PLAYERS.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR & AL OUTSTANDING PLAYER
Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani provided fans, teammates and opponents with a captivating, historic season. He was the first player to be selected to an All-Star Game as both a pitcher and hitter, as well as the first player in league history to start the contest as a pitcher and hitter. He participated in the MLB Home Run Derby and slugged the second-most home runs (46) in baseball. In April, he became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1921 to enter a start as a pitcher while also leading (or co-leading) the league in homers. His WAR (9) led the league, and he was the first American League player ever to hit 45+ home runs, steal 25+ bases and score 100+ runs. On the mound, he went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts, with 156 strikeouts in 130.1 innings.
MARVIN MILLER MAN OF THE YEAR
Toronto Blue Jays
A nine-year MLB veteran, Marcus Semien has not only been an All-Star player, but also one of the game’s true leaders. Serving as an Executive Subcommittee Alternate Association Player Representative, he has had the opportunity to provide guidance on and off the field for his fellow major leaguers. This season, Semien had his best statistical campaign, but also had the opportunity to mentor some of the league’s brightest young stars on the Toronto Blue Jays’ roster. In Oakland with the Athletics, he won the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) Heart and Hustle Award twice, given to the player who best demonstrates a passion for baseball and “best embodies the values, spirits and traditions of baseball.”
CURT FLOOD AWARD
The late Mark Belanger, a longtime player advocate as an executive board member and the first former player hired to work for the union, is the 2021 recipient of the Curt Flood Award. The Curt Flood Award commemorates Flood’s historic judicial fight against baseball’s reserve system, which paved the way for free agency in the 1970s. The 2021 nominating committee, made up of seven former and current MLBPA executives, unanimously selected Belanger, who became a confidant of Miller and then-general counsel Don Fehr during his 18-year MLB career. Upon his retirement, Belanger went to work for the MLBPA, where he served as a special assistant for 15 years before his death at age 54.
NL OUTSTANDING PLAYER
A former first-overall pick and PCA recipient for NL Outstanding Player in 2015, Bryce Harper recaptured his MVP winning form for the Philadelphia Phillies this season. He led the majors in slugging (.615), OPS (1.044) and doubles (T- 42). Providing power all season for the Phillies, he was the only player in baseball to amass 40+ doubles, 35+ home runs (35) and 100+ walks (100). He became the fourth active player to hit his 250th career home run before his 29th birthday with a solo shot in August against his former team, the Washington Nationals. Harper joined Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Mike Trout in that elite club.
AL OUTSTANDING PITCHER
Toronto Blue Jays
Robbie Ray appeared to enjoy his first full season with the Toronto Blue Jays. The hard-throwing lefty missed bats all season on his way to posting a career year, during which he led the American League in ERA (2.84), WHIP (1.04), innings pitched (193.1), and quality starts (23). He also led the majors with 248 strikeouts. In August, he struck out 14 Chicago White Sox, tying a career high for a single game. He also set a record for most strikeouts (1,241) in a pitcher’s first 1,000 innings. He had 10 starts of 10+ strikeouts, and 15 games with 100+ pitches thrown.
NL OUTSTANDING PITCHER
Los Angeles Dodgers
Max Scherzer is no stranger to the Outstanding Pitcher award, as he has received the honor twice –2013 & 2017 – in both the American League and National Leagues. The three-time Cy Young winner made his 8th All-Star Game and started the contest, giving him four Midsummer Classic starts for his career. His 0.86 WHIP led all of baseball, and his 2.46 ERA was the second-best mark in the National League. After a deadline day trade that sent him from the Washington Nationals to the Los Angeles Dodgers, he posted a 7-0 record in 11 starts with a 1.98 ERA. In September against the San Diego Padres, he eclipsed the 3,000-strikeout mark, becoming the 19th pitcher in MLB history to do so. He achieved the milestone in his 404th career game -- the second fewest games to reach that threshold behind Randy Johnson’s 362 games.
AL OUTSTANDING ROOKIE
Drafted 36th overall in 2015, Ryan Mountcastle made his MLB debut in 2020 with the Baltimore Orioles. He showed promise in 35 games last season, and was one of the most prolific hitters in baseball in 2021. He led MLB in home runs by a rookie (33), with the second-most RBIs (89). On June 19th against the Toronto Blue Jays, he slugged three home runs, becoming the first Orioles’ rookie since Nick Markakis in 2006 to do so. He earned AL Rookie of the Month for June and took home an AL Player of the Week honor as well.
NL OUTSTANDING ROOKIE
The former Florida Gator was taken fifth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft, and shot through the Cincinnati Reds’ system quickly before his debut in April 2021. Providing stability to the Reds’ lineup with a .383 OBP while batting first in the order, Jonathan India led all qualified rookies in OBP (.376), walks (71), doubles (34) and runs scored (98). He was the first Reds rookie to have 20 home runs and 10 steals in a season since Bernie Carbo in 1970.
AL COMEBACK PLAYER
Trey Mancini, a former eighth-round pick out of Notre Dame, returned to the Baltimore Orioles in 2021 after missing the entire 2020 season bravely fighting stage 3 colon cancer. He was diagnosed in March of 2020, and his inspirational battle was recognized throughout the baseball world. This year, he was runner-up in the Home Run Derby, hit his 100th career home run, collected his 600th career hit and played in 147 games.
NL COMEBACK PLAYER
San Francisco Giants
After opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, Buster Posey returned behind the dish and was an integral part of a record-setting season for the San Francisco Giants. The former fifth overall pick, 2012 MVP, four-time Silver Slugger and three-time World Series champion was named to his seventh All-Star Game this season and collected his 1,500th career hit (T-34th catcher in history to reach that marker). He came out of the gate hot, batting .361 with six home runs and nine RBIs in March and April. In team wins, Posey was at his most productive, slashing .316/.417/.538 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI. He previously won the PCA NL Comeback Player award in 2012.