Baseball award season makes people feel all kinds of ways. Whether it is the inevitable snub for Manager of the Year, or a Gold Glove going to a strong offensive and popular player with mediocre defense, there is plenty of ire to go around. People take issue with the process and with the results. Unless, of course, it goes the way of their favorite teams; in that case, the entire thing is clearly on the up-and-up and well-deserved. Either way, the entire process provides intrigue, entertainment, and Twitter fodder galore.
And who doesn’t love a little intrigue, entertainment, and Twitter fodder?
So to capitalize on the energy surrounding the offseason debates over who should be the winner of what award, and only tangentially inspired by the real awards, we present to you the sixth and last of a series of We Love Baseball awards for the 2021 season.
The final award in our series is: The Silver Hugger. This one goes to the player with the best dugout bro hugs, celebrations, handshakes, and the like.
Let’s bring on the contestants, in no particular order, shall we?
1. Albert Pujols, 1B | Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers
Albert Pujols greeted AJ Pollock with a big hug in the dugout after his home run. (USA Today) pic.twitter.com/sav3kkIawO
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) June 26, 2021
HUGS FROM TIO ALBERT PUJOLS ARE THE BEST KIND OF HUGS THERE ARE pic.twitter.com/11NZfi4lJv
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) July 21, 2021
2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B | Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees
After a frustrating start to the season, Rizzo finally crushes one & gets a hug. 😂
— Cubs Zone ™️ (@CubsZone) April 8, 2021
Anthony Rizzo welcomes Albert Almora Jr. back to Wrigley with a nice warm hug. ❤️ #Cubs
— Cubs Zone ™️ (@CubsZone) April 21, 2021
3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B | Atlanta Braves
Pablo Sandoval is giving out free hugs every time someone hits a home run. pic.twitter.com/upKeQrPmhc
— saucycatches (@saucycatches) May 18, 2021
Thinking about when Pablo Sandoval used to wait in full panda costume to hug players after home runs pic.twitter.com/tgmrK9PrzX
— Razzball (@Razzball) August 13, 2021
4. Buster Posey, C | San Francisco Giants
I want a Buster Posey Hug 🙌😍❤🥰🧡🔥🖤 pic.twitter.com/pKMNjDWg7e
— Mary (@Bubbles75757575) March 3, 2021
— Zach Harris (@PotCzach) November 4, 2021
5. Freddie Freeman, 1B | Atlanta Braves
— 🌺 50 shades of B🍍 (@Bodhi_Tweets) August 25, 2021
Freddie Freeman & Brian Snitker hug it out after winning the National League pennant 🙌 pic.twitter.com/4aqzvjZN9t
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 24, 2021
6. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B | Toronto Blue Jays
— For The Win (@ForTheWin) July 14, 2021
— The Sports Throne (@SportsThroneHub) July 14, 2021
Hugs kind of speak for themselves and it feels so disingenuous to eliminate anybody from contention for an award that is all about positivity and spreading love. In previous awards, maybe a pitcher was lifted out of consideration for the Sly Young, or a beard was not quite fluffy enough to be a finalist for Wookie of the Year, but here, it feels far better to just talk about the best of the best.
The Best of the Best | No disrespect to anybody else on this list, but Pablo Sandoval and Albert Pujols really rise to the top. The smiles on their faces, the authenticity of the hug itself, and the joy they each bring to the entire embrace are all just elite. 80-grade. Perfect.
The PL+ Choice
— Paul Byrd (@PaulByrd36) May 12, 2021
The PL+ crew nailed this one. He is big and cuddly and happy and wears a panda head and holds his arms wide open and… it’s all just absolute perfection. Future dugout huggers take note; Sandoval is the GOAT. The mystery and drama swirling around the ultimate victor are, admittedly, taking a little bit of a hit here. It’s pretty obvious who will be crowned the champion, so let’s just move full steam ahead and announce that…
The Winner Is…
— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) July 18, 2021
Even here, with Freddie Freeman, another viable candidate for the award, Sandoval steals the show. With so many Braves to consider including a few who did not make this shortlist, maybe it wasn’t so much the trade deadline deals that Atlanta made and rather more about the chemistry in the clubhouse that spilled out on the field night after night.
Alright, the acquisitions helped, but all of this love, spearheaded by Pablo Sandoval, was absolutely key to the Braves’ success this year. Congratulations to the World Champions and congratulations to Sandoval for the even more prestigious honor of the Silver Hugger.
Photo by Ariel Basaar/Unsplash | Adapted by Ethan Kaplan (DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)