NBC Sports

Yaz named Willie Mac Award winner, capping breakout season

NBC Sports
Mike Yastrzemski, GIants

The Year of Yaz now includes the most prestigious honor a Giant can earn. 

Mike Yastrzemski was named the 2020 Willie Mac Award winner before Saturday's game, adding to what has become a breakout season for the 30-year-old outfielder. The award is given annually to the Giant who is deemed the most inspirational and selected in a vote by teammates, coaches, support staff and fans. It has long been considered the most important award given out by the team every year. 

"There was a time two years ago when I had a talk with my wife, I was almost ready to hang it up," Yastrzemski said. "Farhan gave me a chance to come over here. I'm just so thankful to him for giving me a chance to be part of this organization and this team. It changed my life."

Yastrzemski was an obvious choice this season, one in which he became an MVP candidate in his first full year as a big leaguer. It took Yastrzemski six seasons to reach the big leagues and he had to wait for his second club to give him a shot, but he now ranks among the National League's leaders in several categories. 

Despite missing a week of the short season with a calf strain, Yastrzemski is 11th in fWAR (2.5), 10th in OPS (.952), tied for first in triples (4) and eighth in extra-base hits (28). He leads the Giants with 38 runs and 35 RBI and is tied for second with 10 homers. He homered in his first start back in the lineup Friday. 

 

Yastrzemski has also taken on a leadership role in a clubhouse that lost Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval during the season, and he has become a spokesman despite having been around for a little over a year. When the Giants and Dodgers postponed a game to protest police brutality, it was Yastrzemski who came on Zoom the following day to address the media. Yastrzemski has taken a knee during the national anthem and spoken passionately about his desire to use his platform to promote equality. 

RELATED: Hunter Pence announces his retirement

Yastrzemski became the fourth straight Willie Mac Award winner to get the award in his first full season of playing for the team. Nick Hundley won in 2017, Will Smith won in 2018 in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, and Kevin Pillar was last year's winner.