Sullivan: Michael Young was jobbed for the Clemente Award

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We argue about every possible award around here because, heck, what else is there to do when there are no baseball games going on?  But while it’s easy to come up with any kind of argument for one guy over another for the MVP or the Cy Young or whatever, it’s not easy — and most folks don’t even try — to argue about who wins humanitarian awards.

Stuff  like the Clemente Award, which goes to “the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship and community involvement.” Most of us have no way of measuring even one player’s level of community involvement, let alone compare him to 29 other nominees, all of whom have clearly shown great sportsmanship and have made humanitarian efforts or else they wouldn’t have been nominated. Which is one of the reasons why the fact that the Clemente Award has a fan vote component makes little sense.

But that doesn’t stop T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com from saying that Michael Young was jobbed when Clayton Kershaw won it the other day:

Young has been the Rangers nominee for four straight years. He has yet to win it, unlike Pete Rose , Sammy Sosa or Curt Schilling …

It is one that Young richly deserves. If Young doesn’t represent everything that Clemente Award embodies then they might as well stop giving it because their standards are way too high.

I appreciate that Sullivan sees Young and his charitable work up close and has a greater appreciation for it than any of us do, but I really don’t know how one can talk about this sort of thing like a gold glove or something. To say, as he implicitly does, that Kershaw is somehow not as deserving seems, well, kind of rude given that we’re talking about humanitarian things here and not objective baseball value. And when Sullivan throws in Young’s “day-to-day accountability with the media,” — which is not something the Clemente Award is designed to reward — one wonders what the heck the motivation is for this in the first place.

I’m sure Michael Young is a good guy and embodies the things the Clemente Award values and honors. But to argue about the Clemente Award as if it’s like any other award seems rather awkward.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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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.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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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.