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Howie Kendrick wins Heart and Hustle Award

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Every year, the MLB Players Alumni Association announces a winner for its annual Heart and Hustle Award. The award is given to the player who “best embodies the values, spirits and traditions of baseball.” The winner of the 2019 award is Nationals infielder Howie Kendrick.

The finalists, one from each team, were announced in July.

Kendrick, 36, hit .344/.395/.572 with 23 doubles, 17 home runs, 62 RBI, and 61 runs scored in 370 plate appearances for the Nationals during the regular season. He spent most of his time at first base but also logged significant innings at second and third base. During the postseason, Kendrick batted .386/.328/.444 with a pair of homers and 12 RBI. He earned NLCS MVP honors, helping the Nationals sweep the Cardinals and advance to the World Series, where they defeated the Astros in seven games.

Kendrick is the first member of the Nationals to win the award. The winners since the award’s inception in 2005:

2005: SS David Eckstein, Cardinals
2006: 2B Craig Biggio, Astros
2007: 2B Craig Biggio, Astros
2008: OF Grady Sizemore, Indians
2009: 1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals
2010: SP Roy Halladay, Phillies
2011: OF Torii Hunter, Angels
2012: OF Mike Trout, Angels
2013: 2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
2014: UT Josh Harrison, Pirates
2015: 1B Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
2016: 3B Todd Frazier, White Sox
2017: OF Brett Gardner, Yankees
2018: OF Mookie Betts, Red Sox

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).