Checking on a few more awards

The Winter Meetings are a week away, but I can’t fly into Nashville until I’ve trudged through a few more awards nights.

Roll up the pant legs and wear old shoes.

Major League Baseball’s Comeback Player of the Year will be announced Tuesday evening on MLB Network. White Sox closer Liam Hendriks was honored in the American League in the Players Choice voting, finishing ahead of Orioles first baseman Ryan O’Hearn and Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow.

Hendriks returned to the White Sox’s active roster in May and appeared in five games after battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I don’t see any reason to consider someone else.

Former Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini was the AL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2021.

The Rivera/Hoffman Reliever of the Year awards will be announced Wednesday evening, and Félix Bautista could be the first Orioles recipient since Zack Britton in 2016.

Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase won it in the AL last season.

Bautista finished 11th this year in Cy Young balloting with three fifth-place votes, the highest placement for any reliever. Boston’s Chris Martin was 12th with one fifth-place vote.

Bautista didn’t pitch after suffering a partial tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament on Aug. 25, denying him a more serious run at the Cy Young. The first-time All-Star was 8-2 with a 1.48 ERA, 33 saves and 0.918 WHIP in 56 appearances and struck out 110 batters in 61 innings.

The honors already are mountainous, with Bautista named AL Reliever of the Month in April, June and July. Jim Johnson was the only other Orioles reliever to get the award, which he did in May 2012.

Bautista's 110 strikeouts led all relievers and was the third-highest total in club history. He struck out multiple batters in 38 outings, also the most in the majors.

Bautista and former Orioles reliever Tanner Scott tied for the reliever lead in fWAR at 2.8.

The season-ending injury shouldn’t penalize Bautista. He was third in saves in the AL behind Clase (44) and the Blue Jays’ Jordan Romano (36), but they posted ERAs of 3.22 and 2.90, respectively, and strikeout totals of 64 and 72.  

Opponent batting averages were .144 for Bautista, .218 for Romano and .242 for Clase. Romano had a 1.22 WHIP and Clase 1.16.

I don’t see a debate.

The Orioles won’t have Bautista in 2024 after his Tommy John surgery last month. They signed him to a two-year deal that runs through the 2025 season.

The Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award will be announced Thursday evening. Orioles fans can ignore it unless they succumb to idle curiosity.

Shohei Ohtani slashed .304/.412/.654 with 26 doubles, eight triples, 44 home runs, 95 RBIs, 91 walks, 20 stolen bases and 102 runs scored in 135 games. I didn’t have a vote, but yeah.

The Orioles are much more flexible at DH, using 14 players this season. Anthony Santander led the pack with 47 starts, followed by Adley Rutschman with 45, Ryan Mountcastle with 23, O’Hearn with 12, Gunnar Henderson with 11, James McCann with seven, Aaron Hicks and Heston Kjerstad with six, Cedric Mullins with three, Josh Lester with two, and Austin Hays, Ramón Urías, Jordan Westburg and Terrin Vavra with one each.

The DH award won’t fall into their hands.

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