In professional sports, peer confirmation might be the sincerest form of flattery.
Fans often favor their hometown products and media tend to fawn over statistical analysis. The players, however, have a perspective unlike any other, and to be singled out by colleagues speaks volumes.
The Major League Baseball Players Association handed out its annual Players Choice Awards on Monday. Late in the regular season, players from each league nominated their peers from their respective leagues for a series of awards. The results were revealed on MLB Network.
"It's really the ultimate show of respect, to have people that you played with and against acknowledge what you do," Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who garnered the distinction of Outstanding Pitcher in the National League, said during the awards show. "It's really touching."
The Players Choice Awards don't identify each league's Most Valuable Player, but Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera beat out Angels rookie Mike Trout for both the Outstanding Player in the American League and overall Player of the Year honors. Trout merited the distinction of Outstanding Rookie in the AL.
Cabrera captured the game's first Triple Crown since 1967 as he paced all AL hitters in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBIs (139).
"It's unbelievable," Cabrera said. "I never thought that I would be in this position right now. I want to thank [the other players] for voting for me, because there is a lot of competition. I don't know if it was the right choice. I was very lucky."
On the NL side, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen was named Outstanding Player. The two-time All-Star, who also took home a Gold Glove Award this season, tallied 31 homers, 96 RBIs, 20 stolen bases and batted .327 with a .400 on-base percentage. Don't think he's satisfied with those numbers, however.
"That's the best thing about baseball: When the season is over and you look back on it, there are still things you can improve on," McCutchen said. "There are areas that I can improve on in this game. To some, that might sound crazy, but to me, I know that's something that I can do, so I'm going into this offseason to work hard and to have an even better year this upcoming year."
Chipper Jones won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, named after the former executive director of the MLBPA and given to one Major Leaguer whose "on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement." In his final big league season, Jones hit .287 with 14 homers and helped the Braves reach the NL Wild Card game.
The Players Trust donated $20,000 to the charity of each winner's choice, and $50,000 for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year and Player of the Year recipients. Jones selected 65 Roses, a Cystic Fibrosis foundation.
"Marvin Miller has meant a big deal to the players over the year, a great leader for our association," Jones said. "You have to be thought of pretty highly if you have a Man of the Year award named after you. I'm honored to accept this award. I know it's not only for what you do on the field, but more importantly what you do off the field and the lives that you affect off the field."
Dickey beat out Reds righty Johnny Cueto and Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez on the merits of his 20 wins and 2.73 ERA -- which both ranked second among NL hurlers -- and his NL-leading 230 strikeouts. Dickey donated his $20,000 to rebuilding efforts in New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
In the AL, Rays lefty David Price earned the honor of Outstanding Pitcher after posting a 20-5 record and 2.56 ERA while notching 205 strikeouts. He was chosen over White Sox southpaw Chris Sale and Angels righty Jered Weaver.
"To gain the respect of those guys and get their vote, that's very special to me and very special to the Rays and it's something that I cherish," Price said.
White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn has tried to forget about his 2011 campaign, during which he batted .159 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs. In '12, the slugger, who turns 33 on Friday, clubbed 41 homers and drove in 96 runs while hitting .204. For that improvement, he was named Comeback Player in the AL. Giants catcher Buster Posey, who had his '11 season cut short by a leg-shattering collision at home plate, earned the nod in the NL after he hit .336 with 24 homers and 103 RBIs.
"I really don't remember 2011 too much," Dunn said. "I think I did a pretty good job of blocking that out or doing anything I could to get out of there. It never happened. I'm still 31 years old, actually."
Trout burst onto the scene for the Angels in late April and wound up with a .326 average, 30 homers, 83 RBIs, 129 runs scored and 49 stolen bases. Those numbers warranted him the Outstanding Rookie award ahead of fellow AL West rookies Yoenis Cespedes of Oakland and Yu Darvish of Texas.
Todd Frazier earned the distinction in the NL after he batted .273 with 19 homers and 67 RBIs for NL Central-champion Cincinnati. Frazier compiled those numbers while spending his time all around the diamond. The 26-year-old saw time at first base, third base, left field and right field. He appreciated the recognition from his colleagues.
"It shows the respect they have for you," Frazier said. "They understand the game and know how hard it is to play this game."
Player of the Year: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Marvin Miller Man of the Year: Chipper Jones, Braves
Outstanding Player, AL: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Outstanding Player, NL: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
Outstanding Pitcher, AL: David Price, Rays
Outstanding Pitcher, NL: R.A. Dickey, Mets
Outstanding Rookie, AL: Mike Trout, Angels
Outstanding Rookie, NL: Todd Frazier, Reds
Comeback Player, AL: Adam Dunn, White Sox
Comeback Player, NL: Buster Posey, Giants