In years without a global pandemic, the Mariners would’ve had a larger ceremony as part of fan appreciation night, with a chance for fans in attendance to cheer on their players’ accomplishment. In this odd 2020 season, however, the crowd noise was fake and the faces in the stands of T-Mobile Park were made of cardboard.
Before the final Mariners’ home game of the season, the local chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced its end-of-season awards.
The most valuable player honor given to outfielder Kyle Lewis and the most valuable pitcher nod given to Marco Gonzales were obvious choices and received unanimous votes from the local BBWAA writers.
Lewis, 24, leads the Mariners in hitting (.272), home runs (11), runs scored (36), walks (33) and is on pace to become just the second rookie in the majors since 1969 to lead his team in all four of those categories. The other was Mark McGwire with Oakland in 1987.
He’s also the leading candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year award. He ranks among the leaders in nearly every offensive category for AL rookies: runs scored (first, 36), hits (first, 52), walks (first, 33), batting (first, .272), on-base percentage (first, .376), slugging percentage (first, .461), OPS (first, .837), multi-hit games (tied for first, 14), times on base (first, 85), total bases (first, 88), FanGraphs WAR (first, 1.9), home runs (tied for first, 11), RBI (second, 28) and extra-base hits (tied for second, 14).
Gonzales, 28, has been the Mariners’ best pitcher this season while assuming the responsibilities as the leader of the pitching staff and relishing in them. He also won the award last season.
In 10 starts, he’s 7-2 with a 3.06 ERA with 59 strikeouts and just six walks in 64 2/3 innings. His 0.84 walks per nine innings is the best in MLB, while his six walks are the fewest of any pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched. His 9.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio also is the best in the AL.
Other than his first start of the season when he was on a strict pitch count, Gonzales pitched five or more innings in every outing, including five of more than seven and a complete-game victory.
Dee Strange-Gordon was given the unsung hero award for the second time as a Mariner. The other came in 2018. It goes to the player who contributes to the team in ways not often seen on the field. Coming into this season, Strange-Gordon knew he wasn’t going to play much but still provided leadership during pregame workouts and set an example for young players with his willingness to embrace and enforce the guidelines of playing in a pandemic.
He’s also served as a role model and leader in the Mariners’ fight for social justice, serving on the Players Alliance. With more Black players on the Mariners roster than any other team in baseball, Strange-Gordon became the understated leader of the group while helping to educate others on the team about the issues of systemic racism.
His tireless work off-the-field in terms of working a variety of charities and causes has been well documented after he was named the Mariners’ nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award. He was named the 55th recipient of the Hutch Award this spring as well.
Outfielder Jake Fraley’s return to the big leagues was brief. After replacing Dylan Moore on the active roster Tuesday afternoon, Fraley suffered a strained quadriceps in the defeat Tuesday night that forced him to the injured list. Outfielder Braden Bishop was recalled from Tacoma to take Fraley’s spot.
“He was going to try to gut it out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said in a pregame video conference. “He came in today and ran through some drills in the outfield early. It just was not feeling good at all running on it. So that’s what forced us to go ahead and make the change.”