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MLB Players Alumni Association announces “Heart and Hustle Award” nominees

Gatorade All-Star Workout Day

MIAMI, FL - JULY 10: Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners and the American League speaks with the media during Gatorade All-Star Workout Day ahead of the 88th MLB All-Star Game at Marlins Park on July 10, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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The MLB Players Alumni Assocation announced its annual “Heart and Hustle Award” preliminary winners today. The award is given to one player from each team “who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit, and tradition of the game.”

The voters are alumni players with established relationships to each team. The nominees consider the player’s “passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.” The team winners are all nominees for the overall “Heart and Hustle Award” given in November. Last year’s winner was Todd Frazier.

The team winners for 2017 are:

AMERICAN LEAGUE


  • Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones
  • Boston Red Sox: Rick Porcello
  • Chicago White Sox: Avisail Garcia
  • Cleveland Indians: José Ramirez
  • Detroit Tigers: Ian Kinsler
  • Houston Astros: Josh Reddick
  • Kansas City Royals: Eric Hosmer
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Andrelton Simmons
  • Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton
  • New York Yankees: Brett Gardner
  • Oakland Athletics: Yonder Alonso
  • Seattle Mariners: Nelson Cruz
  • Tampa Bay Rays: Logan Morrison
  • Texas Rangers: Elvis Andrus
  • Toronto Blue Jays: Kevin Pillar

NATIONAL LEAGUE


  • Arizona Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt
  • Atlanta Braves: Nick Markakis
  • Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant
  • Cincinnati Reds: Adam Duvall
  • Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: Justin Turner
  • Miami Marlins: J.T. Realmuto
  • Milwaukee Brewers: Hernán Pérez
  • New York Mets: Jay Bruce
  • Philadelphia Phillies: Freddy Galvis
  • Pittsburgh Pirates: Adam Frazier
  • San Diego Padres: Clayton Richard
  • San Francisco Giants: Brandon Crawford
  • St. Louis Cardinals: Jedd Gyorko
  • Washington Nationals: Anthony Rendon

This award has drawn some criticism in the past for playing into old tired stereotypes of what constitutes “heart” and “hustle.” Specifically, old cliches about how it’s the gritty white dudes who worked hard while black and Latino players were more “naturally gifted” and, often, were accused of being lazy loafers (David Eckstein was the first winner, natch). It’s crazy that such assumptions still linger among those who talk about sports, but they do.

In 2015, 22 of the 30 Heart and Hustle winners were white Americans. Last year 21 of the nominees were, meaning that 26.7% of nominees were people of color, foreign born or both. This year 19 of the 30 are. People of color comprised 42.5% of Opening Day rosters. It’s obviously not the MLBPAA’s job to fill some quota -- and things are improving slowly -- but it’s probably worth observing that the old “hustle” tropes continue to apply to white Americans a bit more liberally than to others.

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