Players honored Jose Altuve as their Player of the Year and Anthony Rizzo as their Marvin Miller Man of the Year in the 26th Annual Players Choice Awards.
Altuve was also selected by his peers as the AL Outstanding Player while Giancarlo Stanton was named NL Outstanding Player. Corey Kluber was named AL Outstanding Pitcher and Max Scherzer the NL Outstanding Pitcher; Aaron Judge was selected as AL Outstanding Rookie and Cody Bellinger as NL Outstanding Rookie, while Mike Moustakas and Ryan Zimmerman were selected as the Comeback Player in their respective leagues.
“I have to thank all the players that put me in this situation, because they are the biggest reason that I’m sitting here,” Altuve said during the broadcast. “I’m thankful.”
“I’m just a guy that goes out there trying to get better and trying to help his team.”
The Players Choice Awards, in which players recognize each other’s excellence on and off the field, have been presented by the Major League Baseball Players Association since 1992, with the Players Trust providing more than $4.7 million in charitable grants to causes selected by the winning players. This year’s Players Choice Award winners will designate charities to receive grants totaling $260,000 from the Trust.
As winners of awards voted on by players in both leagues, Altuve and Rizzo will each receive a $50,000 grant from the Players Trust for a charity of their choice, while winners of the league-wide awards receive $20,000 grants for charities they choose.
Balloting for the 2017 Players Choice Awards was conducted in all Major League clubhouses on Sept. 19, under the supervision of accounting firm KPMG, and the awards were telecast on Wednesday (Nov. 8) for the seventh consecutive year on MLB Network in a 90-minute program presented by MLB The Show and sponsored by Majestic Athletic. Heidi Watney, Robert Flores and former Major Leaguer, Dan Plesac, hosted the awards program.
Altuve, the 5-foot-6 second baseman from Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, led the American League in batting (.346), hits (204) and heart while earning his fifth All-Star Game berth in seven seasons and leading the Houston Astros to their first World Series title in franchise history. He had 39 doubles, 81 RBIs, a .410 on-base average, stole 32 bases and played stellar second base.
“He’s the best player alive right now,” teammate Carlos Correa told media after Altuve hit his dramatic three-run home run in Game 5 of the World Series. “When he steps in the batter’s box, great things are going to happen.”
Players selected Rizzo, who led the Cubs to victory in the previous World Series, as their Marvin Miller Man of the Year, an award they give to the player who most inspires them through his contributions on the field and in the community. Named for the founding executive director of the modern Players Association, it is symbolic of players’ utmost respect.
“Just to be associated with Marvin Miller is something that’s incredible,” Rizzo said during the broadcast. “For what he’s done for this game of baseball, he paved the path for every player and it’s amazing.”
Winners in recent years have included Curtis Granderson (2016), Adam Jones (2015), Clayton Kershaw (2014) and Mariano Rivera (2013).
Rizzo, who hit 32 homers and drove in 109 runs for the second straight season, made it his mission this year to use his on-field success as a springboard for the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, which the Hodgkin lymphoma survivor created in 2012 to provide funding for pediatric cancer research as well as support for the families of children fighting cancer.
“On the field you want to do things the right way, you want to play the game the right way,” Rizzo said. “Off the field I really try to use the platform that we’ve been provided with Major League Baseball to go out and help. It’s amazing what it can do to someone. A moment can last a lifetime for them seeing a person in a Cubs’ jersey. I try to keep that and remember that at all times.
“This [grant] will go to the Anthony Rizzo Foundation, probably toward the walk and directly down here to the Unviersity of Miami Sylvester Center where I got my treatment and the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital,” Rizzo said. “It’s an amazing hospital. The money will be put to good use and it will be put to use right away.”
In 2017 alone, the friendly first baseman’s foundation committed more than $4 million to establish the Hope 44 program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, where he regularly visits the infusion center to lift children’s spirits while they are being administered chemotherapy.
“Truly what Anthony gives to these kids is inspiration,” Allison Parise, a registered nurse in the oncology unit at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital, told the Chicago Tribune earlier this year. “Inspiration knowing that he was in their shoes, literally, not that many years ago, and how he and his family got through it. He was able to overcome it and survive, and now he’s a professional baseball player thriving in his career and in his life.
“And he’s really a real guy. He comes in here and he gets down with the youngest of kids. He holds the little kids, shakes hands and has heartfelt conversations with the older teenagers. Some of my patients who play baseball, they can relate to him, and some are the same age he was when he went through his treatment.”
Rizzo’s foundation has also raised millions of dollars for the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami and has donated to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., as well as the Family Reach Foundation and Gilda’s Club Chicago.
Only Ty Cobb, Pete Rose and Hank Aaron had more hits through their age-27 seasons than Altuve, who was also selected as the AL Outstanding Player by the players in his league. So consistent was the second baseman’s effort that he only had one three-game hitless streak over the course of the season and his lowest monthly batting average was the .298 he recorded in September.
“He’s very, very underrated, believe it or not,” Astros center fielder George Springer said during the World Series. “He’s been clutch all year. He’s been clutch his whole career. And I have the utmost confidence in him whenever he’s up. He just kind of does his job and goes home. But the guys in this clubhouse know who he is. The guys he plays against know who he is.”
Players selected Stanton, who had the best of his eight seasons, as the NL Outstanding Player. Still just 27, the 6-foot-6 right fielder from Southern California led the majors with 59 homers and 132 RBIs and led the NL with a 6.5 WAR and a .631 slugging percentage and earned his fourth NL All-Star berth. In becoming just the sixth player to reach 59 home runs, Stanton set Marlins’ records for home runs and RBIs (132) in a single season. In accepting his honor, Stanton credited his health as the major reason for his 2017 success. In each of the past two seasons, he was limited to a combined 193 games, while appearing in 159 this season.
Showing why he is nicknamed “Klubot,” Kluber was nearly invincible in 2017 as he methodically picked apart AL lineups for the AL Central champion Cleveland Indians. The 31-year-old right-hander was 18-4 with an MLB-leading 2.25 ERA and 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings, and also led the league in wins, WHIP (0.869), complete games (5), shutouts (3). Using his trademark curve, he had 265 strikeouts while walking just 35 over 203 2/3 innings.
Scherzer, who won the AL Outstanding Pitcher award in 2014, was 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA and an NL-leading 268 strikeouts in 200 2/3 innings for the Nats and also led the league with an 0.90 WHIP and allowed just 5.7 hits per nine innings. It was the second straight season the Missouri native led the NL in strikeouts and the fourth time in the past five seasons that he’s posted an ERA below 3.00.
Judge, 25, took New York by storm, setting the MLB rookie record with 52 home runs and a Yankee Stadium-record with 33 home runs at home. He started for the AL in right field at the All-Star Game and won the Home Run Derby. Judge, a first-round selection of the Yankees in 2013, finished the season with an 8.1 WAR (Baseball-Reference), the second-highest among all position players and highest rookie WAR since Mike Trout in 2012. In 155 games, Judge hit .284 with 52 home runs, a league-high 128 runs and 114 RBIs.
Bellinger, 22, helped power the Dodgers to a NL pennant. Called up in late April, he hit .267 with 87 runs scored, 39 home runs – an NL rookie record – and 97 RBIs in 132 games. He was an NL All-Star, becoming the first Dodgers’ position player to make an All-Star team as a first-year player. Bellinger was a fourth-round draft pick of the Dodgers in 2013.
Moustakis, a 29-year-old third baseman affectionately known as “Moose,” suffered an ACL tear in May 2016 but returned for the best of seven MLB seasons this year, batting .272 with a franchise-record 38 home runs and 85 RBIs for the Royals and made the AL All-Star team for the second time. Moustakas, the second overall draft pick in 2007, also had career-high in runs (75), RBIs (85), slugging percentage (.521) and OPS (.835).
Zimmerman, who has spent time on the disabled list over the past three seasons with shoulder, wrist, thumb, foot, hamstring and oblique injuries, returned to the All-Star Game after an eight-year absence in 2017 and became the first Nats player to bat over .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs. The 33-year-old, who was the fourth overall draft pick in 2005, the year the franchise moved to Washington, D.C., and has been a fan favorite ever since, finished the season with a .303/.358/.573 slash line to go with 36 homers and 108 RBIs.
The Players Trust raises funds and attention for issues affecting the needy and promotes community involvement. For additional information, please visit www.PlayersTrust.org