WLB Awards: Wookie of the Year

The bushiest beards of baseball.

Baseball award season makes people feel all kinds of ways. Whether it is the inevitable snub for Manager of the Year, or a Gold Glove going to a strong offensive and popular player with mediocre defense, there is plenty of ire to go around. People take issue with the process and with the results. Unless, of course, it goes the way of their favorite teams; in that case, the entire thing is clearly on the up-and-up and well-deserved. Either way, the entire process provides intrigue, entertainment, and Twitter fodder galore.

And who doesn’t love a little intrigue, entertainment, and Twitter fodder?

So to capitalize on the energy surrounding the offseason debates over who should be the winner of what award, and only tangentially inspired by the real awards, we present to you the first of a series of We Love Baseball awards for the 2021 season.

First up is: Wookie of the Year. This award goes to the player with the bushiest, most grown-out, fluffiest, scraggliest facial hair situation in the league.  There are some honorable mentions for dudes with killer locks, but, ultimately, this award is all about the beards.

Honorable mention: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., John Gant, Jonathan India, Noah Syndergaard, Johnny Cueto, Bryce Harper

Let’s bring on the contestants, in no particular order, shall we?


The Nominees


1. Charlie Blackmon, OF | Colorado Rockies

2. Brandon Marsh, OF | Los Angeles Angels

3. Dallas Keuchel, SP | Chicago White Sox

4. Jake Cave, OF | Minnesota Twins

5. Jake Fraley, OF | Seattle Mariners

6. Jordan Romano, RP | Toronto Blue Jays

7. Archie Bradley, RP | Philadelphia Phillies


The Process


Picking just one winner from this crowd is truly a challenge. It is difficult to qualify what exactly makes a beard so … beardy. It might be possible to quantify it by counting the individual hairs and measuring the length to come up with a Fullness of Beard Quotient, or FoBQ, but it feels very unlikely that we will see that happening anytime soon.

So, in the absence of such metrics, it probably makes the most sense to start by eliminating those that just have no chance to win. To that end, these seven contestants clearly fall into two categories: The True Contenders and the Thanks for Playing Boys.

Thanks for Playing Boys | There are some serious whiskers going on here, and there are three guys who just don’t measure up. At the bottom is Jake Cave, who, despite having a couple of distinguished puffs of gray/white, just doesn’t have the fluff factor required to take the title. Jordan Romano gets a touch closer and shows real promise for next year, but clearly still comes up a little short. Finally, Dallas Keuchel, who once would have likely taken the crown without much argument, scaled back a bit on the volume and falls out of contention.

The True Contenders | We are left with Charlie Blackmon, Archie Bradley, Brandon Marsh, and Jake Fraley. This is where it gets really, really tough. Each sports a face mop of enviable status. It is nearly impossible to suss out what makes one substantially better than the other, made especially so by not being able to vigorously run our fingers through any of them.

In a very difficult decision to narrow the field to two finalists, Archie Bradley and Jake Fraley finish a very close third and fourth to Brandon Marsh and Charlie Blackmon’s first and second. Bradley’s face is pretty bushy, but it is well-tamed and Wookies are wild and out of control. Likewise, Fraley is on point, but has a bald upper lip which, in the end, turned out to be a deal-breaker.


The PL+ Choice


Before we crown the winner, it is time to reveal the insider pick from the Pitcher List Discord. The Pitcher List staff and PL+ members contributed to a poll wherein they chose which players should win the WLB awards, including Wookie of the Year. The choice of the masses goes to:

Brandon Marsh

That is one silky head of hair and beard combination, and there is no faulting the members for throwing their support behind his candidacy. He has the flow to get to the promised land, but does he have the legs?


The Winner Is…


Charlie Blackmon

For as long as Blackmon is involved in a facial hair contest, he has to be the favorite. In this case, Marsh gave him a real run for his money, but there is just no unseating the GOAT of bushy beards on baseball fields. Congratulations, Charlie! I’m sure this means more to you than any other recognition that has been bestowed upon you.

In celebration, check out this picture of Blackmon from 2013:

Stay bushy, my bearded friends!

Photo by Ariel Basaar/Unsplash | Adapted by Ethan Kaplan (DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)

Matt Goodwin

Husband. Dad. Teacher. Writer. Podcaster. Baseball Fan. Quippy. Makes up words. FSWA. IBWAA.

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