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
Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.
In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.
Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.
Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.