By Pasha Ho
After an impressive 91-71 2021 season that had the Blue Jays narrowly finish outside the playoff picture, several rising stars and proven veterans were recently recognized for their regular season accomplishments in this year’s MLB awards.
After signing a 1-year, $8 million contract extension in the offseason, Robbie Ray proved to be a formidable pitcher when he stepped on the mound. He boasted a 13-7 record, 2.84 ERA and league leading 248 K over 193 innings that earned him his first career American League (AL) Cy Young Award. He was nearly a unanimous winner, receiving 29 out of the possible 30 first-place votes. The last first-place vote went to Gerrit Cole, a former Cy Young winner that trailed Ray by 84 points in this year’s voting. I expect Ray to receive a substantial raise this offseason after receiving this prestigious award.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who had a career year offensively this season, posted a .311 average, 48 home runs and 111 RBIs en route to a second place finish in the AL MVP award race. In any other year, these impressive stats might have been enough, but Guerrero Jr. was narrowly outshined by Shohei Ohtani, who lived up to his reputation as a two way player this season. Ohtani hit 46 home runs and had a .965 OPS while pitching 130 innings on the mound with a 3.18 ERA. This year, he was the first player in MLB history to make it on the All-Star Team as a position player and pitcher, and he received 30 out of 30 first-place votes to unanimously win the AL MVP award. Guerrero Jr.’s teammate, Marcus Semien, placed third in this year’s AL MVP voting.
The Blue Jays’ future is bright. Their offense is loaded with young sluggers like Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to lead the pack, and with the recent extension of Jose Berrios the starting rotation is looking promising. Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray are both free agents this winter, and Blue Jay fans, including myself, are hopeful that they can be re-signed with the team.