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Nelson Cruz wins the Edgar Martinez DH of the year award

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Major League Baseball announced this afternoon that Nelson Cruz has been voted the winner of the 2017 Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. It’s the first time he’s won the award. He’s the third Seattle Mariner to take the honor, following Martinez himself, who won it five times, and Willie Horton who won it in 1979.

Cruz hit .293/.378/.556 with 38 homers, 114 RBI, 28 doubles and 88 runs scored in 142 games.  Edwin Encarnacion of the Cleveland Indians finished second in the voting. Ballots are cast by club beat writers, broadcasters and AL public relations departments with nominees including all players with a minimum of 100 at-bats as a designated hitter.

Neither the DH nor the DH award are new — each just completed their 44th season — but the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award was renamed the Edgar Martinez award in 2004. Here are the past award winners:

1973 – Orlando Cepeda (Boston)
1974 – Tommy Davis (Baltimore)
1975 – Willie Horton (Detroit)
1976 – Hal McRae (Kansas City)
1977 – Jim Rice (Boston)
1978 – Rusty Staub (Detroit)
1979 – Willie Horton (Seattle)
1980 – Hal McRae (Kansas City)
1981 – Greg Luzinski (Chicago)
1982 – Hal McRae (Kansas City)
1983 – Greg Luzinski (Chicago)
1984 – Dave Kingman (Oakland)
1985 – Don Baylor (New York)
1986 – Don Baylor (Boston)
1987 – Harold Baines (Chicago)
1988 – Harold Baines (Chicago)
1989 – Dave Parker (Oakland)
1990 – Dave Parker (Milwaukee)
1991 – Chili Davis (Minnesota)
1992 – Dave Winfield (Toronto)
1993 – Paul Molitor (Toronto)
1994 – Not awarded
1995 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
1996 – Paul Molitor (Minnesota)
1997 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
1998 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
1999 – Rafael Palmeiro (Texas)
2000 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
2001 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
2002 – Ellis Burks (Cleveland)
2003 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2004 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2005 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2006 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2007 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2008 – Aubrey Huff (Baltimore)
2009 – Adam Lind (Toronto)
2010 – Vladimir Guerrero (Texas)
2011 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2012 – Billy Butler (Kansas City)
2013 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2014 – Victor Martinez (Detroit)
2015 – Kendrys Morales (Kansas City)
2016 David Ortiz (Boston)

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.