The 2019 season was another exciting year for Latino baseball. From bat flips to pitching duels, down to first-time World Series champions, the Astros and Nationals closed out the baseball decade in a big way.
Through the La Vida Baseball Awards, we sought to honor those who made 2019 incredible. While other awards utilize wins, losses and advanced sabermetrics to help determine the winners, we put fun at the forefront.
For the third consecutive year, we’re honoring the best smile, heart, kicks and bat flips from the game’s many Latino stars.
To recap, here’s how the voting process was broken down: 2005 World Series-winning manager Ozzie Guillen, Astros Spanish language broadcaster Francisco Romero, St. Louis Cardinals Spanish language radio broadcaster Polo Ascencio, Chicago Cubs superfan Captain Cubbo and the Ortiz sisters made up our panel. In addition, La Vida’s staff and our fans also voted.
Without further ado, here are the 2019 winners:
Dynamic Duo: José Altuve + Carlos Correa
Since Carlos Correa burst onto the scene in 2015, he and José Altuve have manned Houston’s middle infield like no other duo. The two peloteros have turned double plays through three straight 100-win seasons, multiple postseason appearances and one World Series title. Whether they’re combining for bang-bang plays or slugging belly-to-belly homers, these two are dynamic in every sense of the word.
Best Smile: Francisco Lindor
Listen, they don’t call Francisco Lindor “Mr. Smile” for no reason. His smile can easily light up a room and has become a signature trait of the Puerto Rican shortstop. Lindor has become so synonymous with his pearly whites that he even chose the nickname for his Players’ Weekend jersey. He’s even teamed up with Smile Direct Club to help everyone attain perfection.
Best Social Follow: Fernando Tatís Jr.
Fernando Tatís Jr. may have just finished his rookie season, but his social media is as seasoned as a major league veteran. Throughout the 2019 season, Tatís took Padres fans behind the scenes of his first full professional season. While the season as a whole wasn’t what Padres fans had in mind, Tatís’ Instagram remained a constant win in our books.
Best Bat Flip: Ronald Acuña Jr.
We can watch Ronald Acuña Jr. bat flip all day. The second-year outfielder popped a career-high 41 homers in 2019, which means 41 unique bat flips. Perhaps the best bat flip of them all was his toss after hitting a homer off rival José Ureña. It was simply epic.
Estilo Especial: Carlos Martínez
There is no denying that Carlos Martínez is quite possibly the best-dressed player in MLB. Whether it’s for a Sunday afternoon matinee or a getaway day back to St. Louis, Martínez is always dressed in the finest threads. Name the marquee brand and Martínez likely has at least one corresponding outfit. We all aspire to be as fashionable as Martínez one day.
Gran Corazón: Nelson Cruz
Through his Boomstick23 foundation, Nelson Cruz has dedicated himself to helping improve the lives of others in his native Dominican Republic as well as in the major league city he calls home. Through baseball clinics, vitilla sessions, supply giveaways and medical popups, Cruz is always committed to helping out those in need. It’s clear that his heart is as big as the bat he swings.
Gran Espíritu: Javier Báez and Yadier Molina
Both Javier Báez and Yadier Molina have endeared themselves to fans with their big personalities and great on-field play, so a tie for this award is not surprising. Báez’s spirit and personality earned him the nod being the cover athlete for “MLB: The Show 2020,” where his swagger is on full display. Báez will be the first Latino cover star since Yasiel Puig in 2015. Meanwhile, Molina is part of the exclusive group of Jordan brand athletes in MLB. Find him rocking Jordan everything, including custom catching gear.
Best Kicks: Rostronginson Canó
Look good, feel good, play good. That’s the motto that many MLB ballplayers live by, and the key to that is great kicks. From Off-White collaborations to Jerry Lorenzo’s latest and, of course, the classic Air Jordan line, peloteros only employ the biggest and brightest shoes. Robinson Canó understands this and that’s why he’s our winner for “Best Kicks” in 2019. Perhaps most emblematic of Canó’s style is these custom Nike cleats that pay homage to Jackie Robinson, the inspiration for Canó’s namesake.
Honorary Latino: Alex Bregman
The Houston Astros stand as one of the most Latino populated teams in all of MLB, and while some might run from that, Alex Bregman embraces it. In order to communicate with them, Bregman has fully committed himself to learning Spanish. The result is a bond like no other between the third baseman and some of the game’s biggest Latino stars.
Best Postseason Celestrongration: Nationals win 2019 World Series
After reaching a low point in May at 19-31, the Nationals completed one of the greatest turnarounds in MLB history. The team rattled off a 74-38 run to earn a Wild Card. After knocking out the Brewers in the NL Wild Card Game, the Nationals took down the juggernaut Dodgers in the NLDS, swept the Cardinals in the NLCS and beat one of the best teams in history, the 2019 Houston Astros, to win the World Series in seven games. Led by star players Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon along with self-proclaimed ‘viejos’ Asdrúbal Cabrera and Max Scherzer, the Nationals ended the decade with the franchise’s first World Series. To top it off, Soto had his first legal adult beverage.
2019’s Top 10 Latino Postseason Moments