Prior to Wednesday night’s matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres superstar Juan Soto was presented with the 2021 National League LatinoMVP award during an on-the-field pregame ceremony featuring Latino Sports founder Julio Pabón at Petco Park.
Beginning in 1990, the LatinoMVP is recognized as the most prestigious and oldest award exclusively given to Latin baseball players. Over the years, major league clubhouses (players, coaches, front office executives, etc.) have compared the accomplishment to winning a ‘Latin Grammy’.
Since arriving on the big league scene in 2018, Soto, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic has become a common trending name as the face of baseball. To simply put it, the 23-year-old is a highlight reel on an every night occasion.
Determined annually by the Latino Sports Writers and Broadcasters Association (LSWBA), the LatinoMVP is distinguished for Latin players, overlooked in the annual BBWAA award voting.
In 151 games played last season with the Washington Nationals, Soto compiled 29 HR, 95 RBI, and 157 hits while batting .313. The left-handed slugger led all of MLB with a .465 on-base percentage and 145 walks.
Soto was deemed the runner-up in the 2021 National League MVP voting behind Philadelphia Phillies Bryce Harper, although he finished with a higher batting average, on-base percentage, and Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Not to mention, Soto totaled more RBI and hits than Harper last year.
Nonetheless, on the 2021 National League LatinoMVP voting ballot, results weighed in with Soto leading the way. He overpowered Nick Castellanos (Cincinnati Reds), Ozzie Albies (Atlanta Braves), Javier Báez (Chicago Cubs/NY Mets), and Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD Padres).
Though the coveted award is based on last season’s performance and contributions off the playing diamond, Latino Sports prefers to honor each LatinoMVP recipient the following year during Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th-October 15th).
More so, the LatinoMVP was established to appreciate and recognize the sacrifices made by Latin players making it to where they are today: living out their childhood dreams on a global stage across the Major Leagues.
Since 2015, the Latino Sports Writers and Broadcasters Association has expanded the LatinoMVP award to pitchers, relievers/closers and rookies for each league. Provided below are the 2021 LatinoMVP award winners.
2021 Latino MVP Award Winners
Latino American League MVP
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
Latino National League MVP
Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
Latino MVP American League Pitcher
Carlos Rodón, Chicago White Sox
Latino MVP National League Pitcher
Julio Urías, Los Angeles Dodgers
Latino MVP American League Relief/Closer
Jonathan Loáisiga, New York Yankees
Latino MVP National League Relief/Closer
Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals
Latino MVP American League Rookie
Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
Latino MVP National League Rookie
Vladimir Gutiérrez, Cincinnati Reds
On an interesting note, Soto will join forces with the 2021 American League LatinoMVP recipient Toronto Blue Jays Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in their route to the 2023 World Baseball Classic Title playing for the Dominican Republic National Team this coming March.
“I would love to represent my country out there and do my best for them,” Soto said. “Where we come from, the people are always cheering for us. I would love to go back there and represent the team.”
The significance of the award and what it truly means to players has come to fruition as MLB has taken a stance partnering with Latino Sports in recent years. Throughout this season, the majority of the 2021 LatinoMVP recipients were presented with their award on-the-field during a special pregame ceremony in front of their respective home crowds.
Our team at Latino Sports were honored to be a part of the presentations as many ballparks displayed the special moment on the jumbotron. Added to the fact, the PA announcer described the prestigious award across the stadium loudspeakers, each recipient cherished the moment with their home fans, teammates, and supporters, applauding the historic feat.
A hidden gem, thanks to several teams’ social media departments posting on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, fans following from across the globe learned more about the award, with many even replying back to congratulate the player.
We’d like to send a special thank you to Major League Baseball and each team who assisted us along the way on this spectacular journey. Nothing was created overnight and for the LatinoMVP award to transcend to where it stands today, the Latino Sports motto resonates in our progress: “It’s About Us, It’s About Time”.
“Follow us on instagram@latinosportsoficial for updates and exclusive content”
Robert Rizzo is the assistant editor for Latino Sports
Follow on Twitter: @RobertRiz994
Watch Sports with Rich live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with host Rich Mancuso and co-host Robert Rizzo.
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