MLB awards are split across the two leagues. For each award there is a winner in the American League and the National League.
This makes for a more complex discussion around the individual accolades as the season comes to an end.
Our preseason 2021 MLB rankings covered the sport’s best across every position.
There’s a raft of MLB award winners every year. From pitching hardware like the Cy Young through to Manager of the Year and Rookie of the Year, here’s a run through the major MLB awards.
The Cy Young award is given to the best pitcher in each league. This is the pinnacle for an MLB pitcher, a reward for a season combining durability and peak performance.
Named after Hall of Famer Cy Young, who holds a raft of MLB records, the Cy Young award can be controversial. How a great pitching season is defined has changed over the years.
Roger Clemens’ seven Cy Youngs is the most in the award’s history. He’s two ahead of Randy Johnson, while Steve Carlton and Greg Maddux have four apiece. Among active pitchers, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer lead the way with three each.
American League Cy Young winner 2020: Shane Bieber
National League Cy Young winner 2020: Trevor Bauer
Most Valuable Player is the award every player dreams of. Though usually awarded to a hitter, pitchers are in the mix for this one, too. Pitchers have won the award 25 times.
Just like the Cy Young, measuring value in MLB players can be contentious. Sabermetrics have played an increasing role in MVP voting, while counting stats and batting average have perhaps become less significant.
There’s also the topic of team success. Unlike other sports, one player cannot lead a team to the playoffs. Being on a .500 or worse club doesn’t rule a player out of MVP contention.
During the 1920s, there was a period when previous award winners could not win the MVP. This meant Babe Ruth famously only won it once.
Once again, the Yankees are top of the pile with the most MVP award wins. Barry Bonds’ tally of seven awards puts him comprehensively clear of anyone else.
American League MVP winner 2020: Jose Abreu
National League MVP winner 2020: Freddie Freeman
Rookie of the Year
The MLB Rookie of the Year awards were established in 1940. First introduced by the Chicago chapter of the BBWAA, the award became national a few years later. Jackie Robinson won the inaugural hardware in 1947.
At first, there was one Rookie of the Year for both leagues. This changed in 1949, however, and since then there has been a Rookie of the Year in each league.
Starting with Robinson, the Brooklyn (now Los Angeles) Dodgers are by far the most successful team in MLB Rookie of the Year history. A further 17 Dodgers have won Rookie of the Year since Robinson, including Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager.
The Yankees have the most wins among American League teams. Aaron Judge was the most recent winner in 2017.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are the only franchise not to have had a Rookie of the Year winner.
American League Rookie of the Year winner 2020: Kyle Lewis
National League Rookie of the Year winner 2020: Devin Williams
Manager of the Year
The newest of the awards, Manager of the Year was first awarded in 1983. Some might argue this is more subjective than the MVP or Cy Young, and understandably so. The impact of a manager isn’t as quantifiable.
Success tends to help to win Manager of the Year. Only six managers across the AL and NL have won the award while finishing outside the top two in their divisions.
Perhaps surprisingly, only eight managers have won Manager of the Year in the same season they won the World Series. The most recent was Ozzie Guillen with the 2005 White Sox.
Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa are the most successful MLB managers with four awards apiece. Cox also became the first to win the award in both leagues back in 1991. Several have achieved the same feat since, including La Russa, Joe Maddon and Bob Melvin.
American League Manager of the Year winner 2020: Kevin Cash
National League Manager of the Year winner 2020: Don Mattingly