The 2020 season was unlike any in recent history, a fact that no one can deny. From quarantined teams to a 16 team playoff field, to new extra-inning rules to 7-inning double headers, it seemed as though there was nothing normal.
And yet having baseball played during a worldwide pandemic almost made things seem normal. Many words could be written about whether it was prudent of MLB to conduct a season in times such as these, but those of who love baseball could sum our interaction with it in just two words: thank you.
To the players who stepped between the lines each day, thank you. To the team managers, coaches and medical personnel who ensured health and safety for all, thank you. To those wielding cameras and announcing the games so that we could participate from our couches and cars, thank you. To the database managers and stat collectors who helped us to see the game in ways deeper than outs and runs, thank you.
And so, to honor the work being done this year, we have inaugurated the EFL Awards to recognize the EFL players who contributed the most to our teams and to our league.
The award winners will be released over the next few days, with today’s announcement covering the Rookie Batter of the Year, Rookie Pitcher of the Year and Debutante of the Year Awards. Let’s get started!
Rookie Batter of the Year
The field for this year’s Rookie Batter of the Year included the following players: Ronald Acuna, Jr. (Bellingham), Brandon Lowe (Haviland), Eloy Jimenez (Old Detroit) and Juan Soto (Peshastin). Each of these players contributed significantly to their EFL team, most of them leading the team in one or more offensive categories. The winner of the 2020 Rookie Batter of the Year Award in the EFL is Juan Soto (Peshastin), who received 9 votes.
Soto’s season began on the IL due to a positive COVID test, which was contested by both he and the team, but ultimately resulted in him missing the first week of the season. Once he returned, he was able to produce the following line in 196 plate appearances:
|BA: .351||OBP: .490||SLG: 695||HR: 13||RBI: 37||Runs: 39||SB: 6|
Overall he collected 54 hits, equally divided between singles (27) and doubles and home runs (27). The fact that he is under control in Peshastin for another 3 years should send a wave of fright through EFL ownership because those number spread across an entire 162 game season could surely be a harbinger of a Pear dynasty in the making. Did we mention Soto is only 21 years old? If we assume that, like most elite hitters, he will continue to develop as he moves into his mid-20s then we might as well etch Peshastin’s name into the EFL trophy right now for 2021, 2022, and 2023.
Second place: Tie between Brandon Lowe and Ronald Acuna, Jr (1 vote each)
Rookie Pitcher of the Year
There were some excellent candidates for Rookie Pitcher of the Year this season. Perhaps it was the shorter season, in which they didn’t have to contend with a longer season than they ever played in the minors, or fewer games against the same teams, or perhaps they are just that good – but these 4 pitchers really excelled.
Only two pitchers received votes in this category. Getting shut out were Pablo Lopez (Haviland) and Justus Sheffield (Peshastin). That means the competition was really between two players, both of them on the Dodgers – Tony Gonsolin (Cottage) and Dustin May (Peshastin).
The winner of the Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 2020 is Tony Gonsolin with 8 total votes. Gonsolin, who unrelatedly is a lover of cats, pitched 46.2 innings with a 2.31. According to his FIP, his ERA should have been even lower, at 2.29. Averaging nearly 9 strikeouts per game, batters only hit .190 off of him, and he only surrendered 2 HRs all season. Under contract through 2024, Gonsolin will hopefully correct the recent Cheese misfortune on the mound, and who knows? He may be the ace who leads them to their first franchise championship.
Second Place: Dustin May (Peshastin) with 3 votes.
Debutante of the Year Award
Debutantes are one of the most fun aspects of our league. This year they seemed to play a larger role on our teams than in past years. Four debs were nominated for this award – two pitchers and two batters: Ryan Mountcastle (Peshastin), Jake Cronenworth (Haviland), Ian Anderson (DC) and David Peterson (Canberra).
Though these players were released upon season’s end, each of them added significantly to their EFL teams this summer. Every player received at least 1 vote, but one player received 6 total votes: Jake Cronenworth.
Cronenworth slashed .285/.354/.457 with 4 HRs. Ryan Mountcastle may have won the award had he been called up earlier in the season, but his 93 PAs paled in comparison to Cronenworth’s 192.
Second Place: Ian Anderson (3 votes)
Congratulations to these three players and their franchises – Peshastin, Cottage and Haviland. Next up will be the two pitching awards: the Tom Seaver Award (Best Pitcher) and Mariano Rivera Award (Best Reliever) coming sometime in the next several days.