By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network
New York – The Baseball Writers’ Association of America awards dinner returned at the Hilton in New York City last night. After a three-year absence due to Covid, the event made up for the lost time.
The dinner was hosted by MLB.com reporter Bryan Hoch and was filled with some of the biggest names in Baseball.
It was headlined by New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge being presented with his MVP award. Other local athletes were recognized, including New York Mets pitchers Justin Verlander and Edwin Diaz. New York Mets manager Buck Showalter was also honored for winning National League Manager of the Year. The New York Mets broadcasters Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and Gary Cohen received the Wille, Mickey and Duke Award, which is presented to a group that is linked in baseball history.
New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro was recognized for the Arthur and Milton Richman “You Gotta Have Heart” Award. He has back after having his leg amputated to continue his work covering sports, including baseball, in New York City for the famous tabloid..
Aaron Judge was the last player to be acknowledged, but his presence was literally and figuratively the largest in the room. Judge signed autographs for kids and was the center of attention. Judge was the biggest story in baseball this year, setting a new American League record by hitting 62 home runs. Spike Lee presented Judge with his award, and they shared some good laughs about how Spike Lee grew up rooting for the New York Mets. Judge also received awards for being the player that best captured the city of New York.
“Stepping up to the plate and seeing all of Yankee Stadium on their feet with their phones out you could kind of hear a pin drop. That was a pretty surreal moment. You guys were with me every step of the way and I can’t thank you enough,” Judge said.
Other players recognized were St. Louis Cardinals legend Albert Pujols, Paul Goldschmidt, Miami Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara and the Houston Astros’ Jeremy Peña.
It was also a big night for women in baseball with WFAN Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman presenting an award to Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng, who also received the “You Gotta Have Heart“ award. Waldman and Ng met back in New York when she worked as an assistant general manager from 1998 to 2001 under Brian Cashman.
“Sandy was special this season and we felt good every time he took the ball this year. The moment we knew he was different was when we had 115 pitches in the ninth inning in St.Louis. manager Don Mattingly tried to take him out, but Sandy stayed in and finished the game two pitches later,” Said Ng.
Alcantara easily won the National League Cy Young Award with an ERA of 2.28 and 207 strikeouts. He lead the National League with 228.2 innings pitched and six complete games. His six complete games were more than any other team in MLB.
Justin Verlander won the American League Cy Young with the Houston Astros and made history in the process. He was the first pitcher to win the award after not throwing a single inning the year before and his ERA of 1.75 was the lowest ever for a pitcher 39 years old or older. He now hopes to bring that winning culture to the New York Mets this season.
Edwin Diaz was the best closer in MLB with an ERA of 1.31, 118 strikeouts and 32 saves. He was awarded the “Good Guy” award named after Ben Epstein and Dan Castellano. He was thankful and thanked his family for their support. Mets owner Steve Cohen presented Buck Showalter with his Manager of the Year award. Together, this group has the goal of winning a World Series next season.
Keith Hernandez, who himself won an MVP award with the St. Louis Carinals in 1979, presented St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt with his National League MVP award. Goldschmidt nearly won the triple crown and led the National League in slugging (.580), OPS (.981) and an OPS+ (180). It all came together with Pujols, who won three MVPs as a Cardinal, on the dais. Pujols hit his 700th home run this year and won the William Slocum/Jack Lang Long & Meritorious Service Award.
Jeremy Peña was given the Babe Ruth award as the Postseason MVP. The Houston Astros shortstop had 24 home runs during the season and hit and slugged over .1.000 in the Postseason. Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona was recognized for winning American League manager of the year.
A touching moment came, when MLB statistician Sarah Langs was honored with the Casey Stengel “You Could Look It Up” award. Langs, battling ALS, continues to produce statistical analysis of baseball at a prolific pace.