The field of finalists for a noteworthy baseball honor is smaller this year, but there still is a distinct New York feel.
There are 14 finalists in all, seven in the American League and seven in the National League, down from the usual 30 (one per team). This year, each club nominated a player, but a collection of MLB.com writers whittled it down.
Winners are determined by Aaron — second on baseball’s all-time homer list with 755 — and a panel of other Hall of Famers including Ken Griffey Jr., Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench and Craig Biggio, as well as an online fan vote through Sunday.
Smith is competing against Freddie Freeman (Atlanta), Corey Seager (LA Dodgers), Bryce Harper (Philadelphia), Manny Machado (San Diego), Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis) and Juan Soto (Washington).
After taking seven at-bats in the first eight days of the season, Smith, 25, ended up with everyday playing time when Yoenis Cespedes opted out for the remainder of the season with what the Mets said were coronavirus concerns.
Smith finished with a .316/.377/.616 slash line, all by far the best marks of his four major-league seasons. That power surge included 10 homers and 21 doubles — and more extra-base hits (32) than singles (24). His 42 RBIs were tied for fifth in the NL.
LeMahieu is up against Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox), Jose Ramirez (Cleveland), Mike Trout (LA Angels), Nelson Cruz (Minnesota), Brandon Lowe (Tampa Bay) and Teoscar Hernandez (Toronto).
For the second time in as many years with the Yankees, LeMahieu, 32, crushed it — this time setting himself up for a big payday as he heads to free agency this offseason. After missing most of camp because he contracted COVID-19, he returned in time for Opening Day and led the majors in hitting at .364, led the AL in OBP at .421 and slugged .590.
He also missed nearly two weeks in August with a sprained left thumb but ended up with 10 homers and 27 RBIs in 50 games. LeMahieu walked (18) nearly as often as he struck out (21).
Despite the pandemic-delayed-and-shortened regular season, MLB’s awards season will unfold as usual. That includes the biggest awards, voted on by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America: MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year.
Finalists for those honors will be revealed Nov. 2. Winners will be announced the following week.