The 2020 MLB regular season wrapped up on Sept. 27 after two months of unbelievable baseball. The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) will, as usual, present their annual awards this off season to those who stood out during the 60 (or 58) games. The McGill Tribune pays homage to the wackiness of this season, however, and recognizes some of the more niche accomplishments of teams and players in 2020.
The “Make Canada Proud” Award: Jordan Romano
It’s fitting that the best Canadian player in the majors this year plays for the majors’ only Canadian team. Romano, a Markham, Ontario native, struck out 21 with a 0.886 WHIP in an admittedly low 14.2 innings, helping push the Toronto Blue Jays to the eighth seed in the American League (AL) and their first post-season appearance since 2016. The righty was placed on the injured list in late August and was unable to recover before the Wild Card Series, where the Jays were swept by the Tampa Bay Rays. Honourable mentions go to Romano’s Montreal-born teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cleveland pitcher Cal Quantrill of Port Hope, Ontario.
The “Congrats… I Guess” Award: Milwaukee Brewers
Hours before the first pitch of the 2020 season, MLB announced a new 16-team playoff format. In a season full of weird things, this new format—and the timing of its announcement—was downright befuddling. Just over two months later, on the final day of the regular season, the Brewers lost 5-2 to the Cardinals and finished with a 29-31 record, but still got to celebrate a third-straight post-season berth thanks to the new eighth spot. Despite a losing record and an underwhelming finish in their own game, they earned the right to get swept by the powerhouse Dodgers in a 2020 post-season series. Congrats, I guess. Honourable mention goes to the Houston Astros, who also clinched a playoff spot with a losing record and swept the now 18-straight playoff loss Minnesota Twins to advance to their fourth consecutive division series.
The “Awesome Young Dude” Award: Juan Soto
Despite playing just over a third of the usual amount of games, the 2020 season showcased an enormous amount of young talent, and 21-year-old Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto was a huge part of that. A positive COVID test in July and elbow soreness in September cost him a few games, but he wasted no time reminding us why we all fell in love with him last year. Two monster home runs in his first series back set the tone for an impressive season: He led the majors with a 1.185 OPS, hit 13 homers, and became the youngest player to ever win the NL batting title. Honourable mentions to Fernando Tatis Jr. (21), Dustin May (23), and Ronald Acuña Jr. (22). They all make baseball better.
The “Dad Strength” Award: Mike Trout
There are so many reasons to honour Mike Trout, and his performance at the plate after becoming a dad this season is no exception. Beckham Aaron Trout was born on July 30, 2020, then, on Aug. 4, 2020, Dad Trout homered in his first at bat back from the paternity list. In fact, in his first seven games after his son was born, Trout hit six home runs with a 1.373 OPS. Unfortunately, Trout’s dad strength was not enough to boost a struggling Angels squad into a playoff spot even with the extended format, but at least he’ll have a longer off season to spend with his kid. Honourable mention to Brewers starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff, who racked up 43 strikeouts with eight earned runs over 32 innings in his five outings after his daughter was born on Aug. 31, 2020.