TORONTO – Silver Slugger winner Teoscar Hernandez was named Blue Jays player of the year and most improved player in voting by the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced Wednesday.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, third in the American League’s Cy Young voting, was the unanimous pick as pitcher of the year, while Canadian reliever Jordan Romano bagged rookie of the year honours.
Outfielder Anthony Alford, who helped raise awareness on social justice issues and is part of The Players Alliance, and former radio play-by-play announcer Mike Wilner were named co-winners of the John Cerutti Award. The honour goes to someone associated with the day-to-day workings of Blue Jays’ baseball who displays goodwill, co-operation and character, as exemplified by the late John Cerutti.
Hernandez batted .289/.340/.579 with a team-leading 16 homers and 34 RBIs over 50 games. His OPS of .919 was 141 points better than his mark in 2019, and he provided a steadying offensive force as the Blue Jays advanced to the post-season.
Ryu, signed to an $80 million, four-year deal last winter, posted a 2.69 ERA in 67 innings over 12 starts, striking out 72 batters while walking only 17. He finished third in Cy Young voting behind Cleveland’s Shane Bieber and Minnesota’s Kenta Maeda.
Romano, from Markham, Ont., was dominant out of the Blue Jays bullpen until a finger injury prematurely ended his season, striking out 21 batters over 14.2 innings while allowing only two earned runs in 15 games. He also collected two saves.
Alford, long respected as one of the best teammates in the organization, appeared in 13 games with the Blue Jays before being claimed on waivers by Pittsburgh. On opening day, he courageously became the first Blue Jays player to kneel during the national anthem in protest of systemic racism, with teammates Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. joining him in support, while he helped educate teammates on a host of social justice issues.
Sportsnet parted ways with Wilner last week after he completed his 18th season as part of the Blue Jays radio broadcast and second as a play-by-play broadcaster. In all he’s covered the team for 30 years, becoming an integral part of the Blue Jays media landscape.