One is a respected veteran presence in the Giants’ clubhouse, the other arguably their best player this season.
The Giants awarded their annual Willie Mac Award on Friday, given to their most inspirational player as voted on by teammates, coaches, training staff, fans and McCovey. For the third time, the award went to co-winners: Reliever Javier Lopez and shortstop Brandon Crawford.
Past seasons with multiple winners were 2001 (Benito Santiago and Mark Gardner) and 1995 (Mark Leiter and Mark Carreon).
Crawford, who last season won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards for National League shortstops, leads the Giants this season with 83 RBIs and is on pace for a career-high batting average at .272. He has also played his customary strong defense while making 11 errors, after setting a career-low with 13 errors last season.
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“It’s a huge honor for me to win this award, especially growing up a Giants fan,” Crawford said during an on-field ceremony before Friday’s series opener against the Dodgers. “To win it with one of the best teammates I’ve played with in Javy makes it very special for me.”
Lopez joined the Giants in 2010 and has been a key part of three World Series titles as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. This has been a down season by Lopez’s standards – 1-3 with a 4.05 ERA in 68 appearances – but he remains a leader in the clubhouse and for a young bullpen that has also struggled in 2016.
This could be Lopez’s final season with the Giants, as the 39-year-old will be a free agent this winter.
“It’s really an honor for these guys because it’s voted on by their peers,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before Friday’s game. “It means a lot to them, how much they’re respected and thought of in that clubhouse, what the award represents, the person that the player is, how he inspires and plays the game.”
Current Giants who have won the award include Matt Cain (2009), Buster Posey (2012), Hunter Pence (2013) and Madison Bumgarner (2014). Matt Duffy, last year’s winner in his rookie season, was traded to Tampa Bay at this year’s deadline.
A handful of past winners gathered on the field for Friday’s presentation. After thanking his teammates, his family and McCovey, Lopez turned his attention to the fans, who have watched the Giants slog through a second half that leaves them fighting for a spot in the wild-card game in the season’s final weekend.
“Let’s be honest, nobody ever said this stuff’s going to be easy,” Lopez said. “But when we get to October it makes it a whole lot of fun. Torture baseball is what we do, and we need you this weekend.”