With the World Series in the midst of a travel day, the 2021 MLB Players Choice Awards winners were announced, as voted on by players across the league in a variety of different categories. These categories include Player of the Year, Most Outstanding Pitcher and Player per league, Outstanding Rookie Award, and a host of other different awards that multiple Blue Jays players were in the running for.
With yesterday’s announcement, two members of the 2021 roster were declared winners, and ironically, both players are heading to free agency this winter.
Joining the Blue Jays on a one-year, $18 million dollar deal, Marcus Semien had a terrific season with Toronto, switching to second base while posting a .265/.334/.538 slash line with a .873 OPS, leading AL second baseman in home runs, RBI, and slugging percentage. One of his biggest accomplishments this year was his career-high 45 home runs, which broke the record for round-trippers from a second baseman in a single season, besting Davey Johnson’s 43 home run mark.
The 2021 Players Choice Award winners were announced last night and two Blue Jays players walked away with some honours and awards.
Semien takes home the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, an accolade that goes to a player who contributed both on and off the field, inspiring players across the league to reach higher for levels of achievement. Right up beside the Player of the Year honours, Semien takes home the award because of his stats on the field but also for being an alternate representative on the MLPBA executive committee. He also made his mark on the Blue Jays young core, evident by the emotion shortstop Bo Bichette showed when talking about his second base counterpart and the impact he had on him this season.
Robbie Ray is the other Blue Jays player to take home a Players Choice Award, walking away with the AL Outstanding Pitcher, beating out Gerrit Cole and Lance Lynn for the honour (foreshadowing for the Cy Young anyone?).
The left-hander was the Jays ace this season, posting an AL-leading 2.84 ERA with 248 strikeouts and a 1.045 WHIP through 193.1 innings of work. He was dominant on the mound, posting 11.5 K/9 and improving on his command from last season, issuing only 52 free passes this year compared to the 45 he surrendered during the COVID shortened 2020 season a year prior.
There is no way the club would have been anywhere near playoff contention if it wasn’t for Ray’s season and he should be a contender to take home the Cy Young Award this season.
Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was close to taking home some hardware, as he finished runner-up to Shohei Ohtani for Player of the Year and AL Outstanding Player of the Year. While Guerrero Jr. had an absolutely outstanding season, the fact that Ohtani was a two-way player and found success on both sides of the ball, it’s easy to see why players across the league voted for him to win both awards over the Dominican product.