This week, several players and managers were honored by the BBWAA for outstanding work in the 2016 season. It being the BBWAA, these awards did not come without some controversy. Thankfully, we here at LL have our own awards which were voted on unilaterally by the single staffer in charge of giving said award, which is really a model the BBWAA should consider adopting, as it eliminates all that thinking and calculating careful BBWAA voters do, only to have their votes neutralized by their free-swinging, maverick, “vote with your gut” compatriots. I think you will find all of our awards are meet and just.
The Andrew Rice award for not being an infuriating reliever who walks a ton of batters
2016 Recipient: Vidal Nuño
In my opinion, one of the most frustrating things that can happen in baseball is when a reliever comes into the game and promptly walks a boatload of batters. YOU HAVE ONE JOB, SIR. THROW SOME STRIKES. As such, I feel like it's important to recognize the reliever who is the best at /not/ doing this. In 2016, for the Seattle Mariners, that player was Vidal Nuño. Among the 129 MLB relievers who threw more than 50 innings in '16, Nuño's walk rate (3.5 BB%) was the third lowest in all of baseball, falling just behind Mr. Andrew Miller (3.3 BB%). Thank you, Vidal. Enjoy your time in Los Angeles.
The Isabelle Minasian Award for Joy-bringing (aka the Endy Chavez Appreciation Award)
2016 Recipient: Guillermo Heredia
Life as a Mariners fan does not often carry much joy, so this award was created to celebrate the player who, be it for his baseball playing abilities or general demeanor, inspired the happiest thoughts of the season. The IMAJ committee (me) is pleased to award this prestigious honor to Guillermo Heredia for his beatific plate discipline, ultralight beam smile, and incredible personal story. As this year's winner, Guillermo will receive a commemorative cotton candy machine and a year's worth of sugar that may be spun at any time.
The Scott George “Fool Me Once” Award
2016 Recipient: Mike Zunino
My award is for the people in your life that you continuously give chance after chance even though your mind knows better. I would like to award Mike Zunino the Scott George Memorial "Fool Me Once" award. He promised us things would be different. Two bombs and a walk in his 2016 debut. I bought it hook, line and sinker. Then our boy decided to spend the rest of the time hitting around the Florida-Georgia Line and having a strikeout rate that would make Jay Buhner blush.
The hardware is in the mail. I promise.
The John Trupin Hangin’ In the Zone Award
2016 Recipient: Hisashi Iwakuma
Iwakuma was the only Mariners starter to throw enough innings to qualify for end of season accolades. If there is anything I aspire to be, it is to consistently be present and fine. Hisashi Iwakuma was undeniably both of those things in 2016. Beyond that, however, Kuma's chill-ass sinkers and loopy curveballs reminded me of my own pitching style, which relied on a funky motion and a willingness to just make the other team swing at something. This is poetry.
Why focus on making them swing and miss? The defense is paid to be there. The field is well groomed. Treat yourself to a first pitch strike. Just huck it in there with a little bit of movement and it'll be fine.
More often than not it was fine, and Hisashi's consistency gave the Mariners a shot in nearly every game he pitched. Can't ask for much more than that.
The Zach Sanders Award for Bizness Excellence
2016 Recipient: Adam Lind
This award honors Adam Lind, for sucking the fun out of every plate appearance, but still going about his bizness, which included visiting local businesses of excellent repute. [Ed. note: This award is not to say that Adam Lind was good, or watching him was a pleasurable experience. This award simply recognizes the Mariner who contributed the most to the local economy. Puig may be your friend, but #LindYourTaxBase]
David Skiba's No Boat Brewing Snoqualmie Mark Trumbo Memorial Celebrity Hernias Fun Run Award For The Cure
2016 Recipient: wait Nuño again?
An award coveted for both its rarity and synonymous relationship with excellent production and meaningful play time, this award was named after the man who most commonly had the honor draped around his chest, Mark Daniel Trumbo. Once a season, a Mariners player exemplifies themselves in such an underrated and underappreciated manner, that even Robinson Cano's old hip hernias have to bow their head in reverence.
This year the award is given to Vidal Nuño for delightful services rendered to a team needing lefty relief of all sorts and kinds. We will miss you when you're gone.
The Ethan Novak Award for Most Physical Pain Caused to the City of Anaheim
2016 Recipient: Kyle Seager
This award is presented to Kyle Seager for his miraculous diving stop to give the Mariners a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Angels back in mid-August. There is so much joy that goes into listening to the entire city of Anaheim all shut up at once. One moment, Andrelton Simmons is sending a scorching line drive into the left field corner to win the game. The next moment, the whole crowd remembers the poor record and the miserable farm system and the Albert Pujols contract and Arte Moreno's existence and C.J. Wilson's stupid head of hair and how boring the city of Anaheim is when you're more than twenty feet from Disneyland and it's just oh so sweet. Instead of serving pumpkin pie next Thursday, just put on a loop of that diving stop instead.
The Kate Preusser Have Fun or Go Home Award
2016 Recipient: Leonys Martín
Sometimes we forget, with all of our agonizing and number-crunching and oh god lind how are you in an 0-2 count already you literally just got up there-ing, that baseball is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. One person never forgets to have fun, though, and that is the Mariners’ fiery Cuban squeakbox Leonys Martín. Watching Martín in center field is a joy: not only when he is gliding around making superb catches, but also in the in-between moments, when he is twitchy and bored and you can see him willing the ball to be hit to him. He is full of chatter, at all times. No, that’s not a controlled air leak in the dugout; it’s Martín’s in-game patter. Martín is a friend of my heart; he just wants to run around and catch and throw and swing the bat and be with his friends. And he’s not picky about it; anyone can be his friend.
More happy hugs, more happy happy hugs.
The Peter Woodburn Award for Celebrating Vile Internet Thoughts (sponsored by Yahoo!)
2016 Recipient: Steve Clevenger
Famous people do have a tough time in the limelight, because every single thing they say is primed and ripe for social media explosion. Clevenger found this out the hard way when he had less than nice things to say about BlackLivesMatter, and he framed it in a way that didn't promote positive social discourse and instead compared protestors to animals. The Mariners subsequently suspended Clevenger without pay. Because of this self-created fiasco, I humbly present Clevenger with this honor.
In Memoriam - the Nathan Bishop Memorial Award For Putting Up With Internet Wackjobs
2016 Recipient: Steve Cishek
Sometimes, when you’re the face of something, people take to their keyboards and use them to propel missiles of cruelty or harshness or just plain weirdness at you. You can be accused of being incompetent, or wished ill, told you suck, or have it be suggested you are, in fact, a robot. Steve Cishek, who is a man of deep faith and apparently takes all that “turn the other cheek” business pretty seriously, watched his mentions fill up with the hottest of garbage this year and never spoke a cross word against anyone. When he lost his closer job to Edwin Díaz, he participated in the Gatorade bath celebrating Díaz’s first save. He came out and pitched the day after he got news that his ex-teammate and friend Jose Fernandez had passed, and he pitched well. Say what you will about Cishek’s pitching; as a human, he is the best of us, much like our dearly departed Nathan. “For egg avatars rush in where angels fear to tread.”
How about you? If there was an award named after you, what would it celebrate, and what 2016 Mariner would get it?