For the past few days we have been running polls for readers here at OTM to try and figure out who people believe will be the ultimate winner of a variety of superlatives made up by yours truly. There was Team MVP, Best Pitcher, Defensive Wizard, Biggest Surprise, Biggest Disappointment and Unsung Hero. All of those polls closed just after midnight Eastern on Friday. In addition to the community polls, I also asked everyone on staff to give an answer so we could see where there was a semblance of agreement. Let’s go over the results, shall we?
Community: Xander Bogaerts (48%)
Matt, Bryan, Jake K, Mike C, Shelly: Xander Bogaerts
Jake D, Mike W: J.D. Martinez
Keaton, Brady: Rafael Devers
It wasn’t really unanimous, but the most popular choice both on staff and among community members was Xander Bogaerts. This isn’t a huge surprise, and since he was my selection as well it is correct. More seriously, this really was a three-man race, but at the end of the day it is hard to argue against picking the player who both plays the most valuable position and is coming off the best offensive season of the trio.
Community: Eduardo Rodriguez (39%)
Bryan, Jake K, Mike C, Mike W, Shelly: Nathan Eovaldi
Jake D, Brady: Brandon Workman
Matt, Phil: Matt Barnes
Keaton: Eduardo Rodriguez
I think if the community had a do over on this one it would probably go in a different direction. The poll for this one was posted Wednesday morning, and the vast majority of the votes came down before it was announced that Eduardo Rodriguez would be shut down after complications related to his bout with COVID-19. The team still thinks he’ll pitch this year, but in a shortened year this is probably enough to take him out of the running for this. Nathan Eovaldi was a close second in this vote with 32 percent.
Community: Jackie Bradley Jr. (75%)
Matt, Bryan, Jake K, Mike C, Mike W, Phil, Shelly, Keaton, Brady: Jackie Bradley Jr.
Jake D: Alex Verdugo
Community: Nathan Eovaldi (17%)
Mike C, Brady: Andrew Benintendi
Matt: Austin Brice
Bryan: Bobby Dalbec
Jake K: Alex Verdugo
Jake D: Nathan Eovaldi
Mike W: Martín Pérez
Phil: José Peraza
Shelly: Colten Brewer
Keaton: Michael Chavis
This one was clearly a lot more spread out, and the community vote came right down to the wire. Nathan Eovaldi and José Peraza were separated by just a single vote. My initial reaction was that Eovaldi’s expectations are too high for him to be a real surprise, but I quickly came down from that pedestal. If Eovaldi is league-average or just merely solid, obviously that wouldn’t qualify. But if you think, of I don’t know, he’s going to be a Cy Young candidate, then yes he’d be a surprise.
Community: Nathan Eovaldi (14%)
Mike W, Phil, Shelly: Brandon Workman
Matt: J.D. Martinez
Bryan: Ryan Brasier
Jake K: Rafael Devers
Jake D: Matt Barnes
Mike C: Eduardo Rodriguez
Keaton Christian Vázquez
Brady: Martín Pérez
This is kind of awesome. The player who was voted to be the most likely to be a pleasant surprise in 2020 was also voted to be the player who will most disappoint. If that doesn’t paint the picture of a wide range of possible outcomes, I don’t know what does. This was also a contest that came down to just a single vote difference, too, with Alex Verdugo just barely missing out on the community vote. I didn’t ask for anyone to explain their picks on staff, but I’ll just say the only reason I picked Martinez is because the back spasms scare me. If he’s totally healthy I think he’ll rake, because that’s what he does.
Community: Darwinzon Hernandez (18%)
Jake K, Keaton: Darwinzon Hernandez
Matt, Shelly: Marcus Walden
Bryan: Christian Vázquez
Jake D: Martín Pérez
Mike C: José Peraza
Mike W: Mitch Moreland
Phil: Jackie Bradley Jr.
Brady: Alex Verdugo
I said in the write up for this poll, but this is always my favorite category. There are so many different ways to think about what an unsung hero is that it’s bound to lead to disagreements. I think some may be wary of the idea of Hernandez qualifying because A) he should be a late-inning arm and B) his stuff immediately stands out in way that makes it hard to be unsung. I’ll defend the pick, though, with the argument that all relievers tend to be unsung besides elite closers. Still, Shelly and I were correct in this one.