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Wrapping up the 2021 Superlative Voting

Who did we all pick for the winners?

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost here. We are now, when you’re reading this, give or take 24 hours from Opening Day. (Or maybe it’s like, July and you just found this on Google months from now. If so, hello. Glad the Earth is still habitable.) We have spent the past three days doing some community votes for a few preseason superlative predictions, specifically voting for team MVP, best pitcher, defensive wizard, most surprising player, most disappointing player, and the unsung hero. Now, we reveal the staff votes as well as who you all, the readers, selected.

Team MVP

Community: Xander Bogaerts (52%)

Matt, Bryan, Jake K., Phil, Shelly, Brady: Xander Bogaerts

Jake D., Mike C., Mike W.: Rafael Devers

Keaton: J.D. Martinez

Bogaerts was not a unanimous selection, but he was the overwhelming favorite both among the community vote and the staff. This makes a whole lot of sense to me (duh, I voted for him) since I believe he is clearly the best player on the team. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I understand the different rationales for what valuable means, but I have a hard time thinking anything is more valuable than being the best among a certain group.

Best Pitcher

Community: Eduardo Rodriguez (50%)

Matt, Mike W., Phil, Shelly, Keaton: Eduardo Rodriguez

Bryan, Jake K., Jake D.: Garrett Richards

Mike C.: Adam Ottavino

Brady: Chris Sale

Another one with a clear favorite, although I was surprised the staff was as split as it was. Looking specifically at you Carlucci, because if Ottavino is Boston’s best pitcher in 2021 it’s going to be a long year. No shade at Ottavino, but that does not bode well. Probably true for Brady’s Sale pick as well. I will admit to being a bit scared off by the latest with Rodriguez’s issues to start the year, but I still think he’s pretty clearly the most talented pitcher who will pitch in April, and that’s good enough for me.

Defensive Wizard

Community: Kiké Hernández (33%)

Matt, Bryan, Phil: Christian Vázquez

Mike C., Mike W., Keaton: Alex Verdugo

Jake D., Brady: Kiké Hernández

Jake K., Shelly: Hunter Renfroe

This was a really close community vote. In fact, I checked on these before I went to bed last night and it was actually tied between Hernández and Vázquez, with Verdugo being one vote behind. Hernández got a couple more votes overnight to take the lead. I picked Vázquez largely because I just think catcher defense is more important than anything else, but with Hernández being able to play good defense at multiple premium spots, I certainly see the logic there. Verdugo and Renfroe are good too, but I’m not sure I can put them ahead of the other two.

Biggest Surprise

Community: Bobby Dalbec (30%)

Matt, Keaton: Hunter Renfroe

Bryan: Jarren Duran

Jake K.: Franchy Cordero

Jake D.: Bobby Dalbec

Mike C.: Garrett Richards

Mike W.: Nick Pivetta

Phil: Michael Chavis

Shelly: Connor Seabold

Brady: Jeter Downs

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that there are seemingly so many options for a surprise here. On the one hand, that’s a lot of players for which there is at least some optimism. On the other, it’s a long list of players with relatively low expectations. For me, I picked Renfroe mostly because my view on him has steadily gotten better as the spring went on, so in a way I’m expecting to be surprised based on my own expectations.

Biggest Disappointment

Community: J.D. Martinez (24%)

Matt, Phil: Garrett Richards

Shelly, Brady: Nick Pivetta

Mike W., Keaton: Bobby Dalbec

Jake D.: J.D. Martinez

Bryan: Martín Pérez

Jake K.: Matt Barnes

Mike C.: Chris Sale

I’m not surprised Martinez won this vote, and in fact I was very close to picking him myself. I shied away at the last second because I just feel like 2020 was such an aberration for everyone and him specifically with the video that I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. It’s picking more with my heart than my head, perhaps. I went with Richards, because I don’t think he’s going to hold up all season, and that may pop up with bad performance rather than injury.

Unsung Hero

Community: Garrett Whitlock (26%)

Jake D., Keaton: Garrett Whitlock

Matt, Shelly: Matt Andriese

Mike C., Mike W.: Kiké Hernández

Bryan: Darwinzon Hernandez

Jake K.: Hirokazu Sawamura

Phil: Christian Vázquez

Brady: Josh Taylor

This is always my favorite category, and I was surprised to see as much agreement as there was. I’m not sure Whitlock is going to be able to fly enough under the radar to qualify for me, but that’s why I like this one so much. Everyone has a different interpretation. I should note that Shelly and I had the same pick last year in this category, and that was Marcus Walden. So, uh, maybe fade Andriese this year.