When Manny Machado was traded from the American League Orioles to the National League Dodgers mid-season, there were concerns that his MVP candidacy may have just come to an end (i.e. which team/league “gets him?”).
Because he’s been just good (not great) since then, it hasn’t really become an issue, but it does remind us of a common problem regarding awards and honors for players traded mid-season.
Consider, for example, the Roberto Clemente award.
If you’re unfamiliar with the honor, the award recognizes the Major League player who “best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions.” To win, you must first be nominated by your team (an honor in and of itself), before being selected by a panel including the Commissioner and members of Clemente’s family. Anthony Rizzo was nominated by the Cubs last year and went on to win the award, a tremendous honor for him.
As for this season, the Chicago Cubs have nominated their staff leader and MLB veteran southpaw Jon Lester, who would be a wonderful choice for the final award. But here’s the thing, the Texas Rangers nominated an MLB veteran southpaw of their own, Cole Hamels … who’s now on the Cubs. So the Cubs kinda-sorta have two Clemente nominees!
Congratulations to @JLester34 and @ColeHamels, the #Cubs and #Rangers nominees for the 2018 Roberto Clemente Award for their contributions on and off the field! #EverybodyIn pic.twitter.com/VcF6LDcKEB
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 4, 2018
Since it’s the individual player, not the club, being recognized, I have no issue with things working out this way and I don’t think Rangers fans should either. But to that end, I am pleased to see that the Cubs have (at least) two players currently on the roster worthy of this year’s distinction. Every player should strive to be a nominee, and every team should strive to have more of them. Congratulations to Jon Lester and Cole Hamels. And best of luck to both of you.