Clayton Kershaw was chosen as the Roberto Clemente Award recipient on Sunday, making him the youngest winner in the award’s 42-year history.
The Roberto Clemente Award goes to the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship and community involvement. There are also bonus points for being really, really good at baseball. The only non-superstars to win it in the last decade were Jamie Moyer in 2003 and Tim Wakefield in 2010. David Ortiz won it last year.
With less than five years of service time, Kershaw is the least experienced player ever to win the award. The Indians’ Andre Thornton won it in 1979, six years after his debut. Barry Larkin was chosen in 1993, seven years after his debut with the Reds.
Kershaw and his wife run the charity organization “Kershaw’s Challenge,” which has worked to build an orphanage in Zambia. Kershaw travels to Africa each winter, and he and his wife wrote a book about their experiences there.
“I am happy to congratulate Clayton Kershaw on being named the recipient of this year’s Roberto Clemente Award,” said Vera Clemente, Roberto’s widow. “The work that this young man has accomplished to help youth around the world is wonderful, and we are proud to welcome him among the many players who have carried on Roberto’s legacy.”
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.