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Running down the contenders for the 2016 Willie Mac Award

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Who will join last year’s winner, [REDACTED], and win the coveted award for spirit and leadership?

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Yesterday, Doug wrote about the Willie Mac Award, the award given to the Giants player who "best exemplifies the spirit and leadership consistently shown by (Willie) McCovey throughout his long career." Possibly my favorite point of the article was this one:

[deep, resigned sigh that lasts for a full minute]

Indeed. It was hard to picture the Giants giving an award to someone for being inspirational, considering the team was playing one of the most uninspired stretches in franchise history.

But that was yesterday. Now it’s Friday, and I’m starting to get a little excited about the award, which means a lot to the players. It’s one of the neatest traditions in baseball. I have absolutely no idea who’s going to win, either, which makes it extra fun.

Some of the potential candidates:

Buster Posey

He won in 2012, the season in which he came back from a violent injury to win the freaking MVP, which is a pretty hard standard to match. But he’s also the guy who squats every game and probably sounds like a rusty swing set when he walks, quietly leading by example. If Bengie Molina can win the award twice in a row (2007, 2008), I don’t see what’s wrong with Posey winning it.

Odds: 5/1

Hunter Pence

He won in 2013, and there’s an understandable sense that the wealth should be shared, but it’s quite possible that Hunter Pence will literally be the best teammate any of these players will ever have.

That, and he cast a Lev. 14 enchantment spell on everyone, as he does every year. Don’t worry, it’s mostly harmless.

Odds: 6/1

Johnny Cueto

The new guy who constantly reminds us that baseball is supposed to be fun! I don’t know if he picks his toes on the team plane, but I do know that he absolutely qualifies for the "spirit" portion of the award’s description.

Odds: even

Brandon Crawford

But if you’re looking for one of the homegrown players (or at least one of the stars who’s been around for a while) who hasn’t won the award yet, here you go. Is he really a leader, though? Maybe behind closed doors. Maybe he leads with so much example that he perspires example and it makes his hair shinier.

I think of him as someone who would be totally comfortable leading from the background, though, which is something of an oxymoron. Maybe I’m wrong.

Odds: 2/1

Javier Lopez

Henry Schulman has been floating him as a candidate on Twitter, and it makes sense. He’s a calm, positive force, and he has been for years. My only issue with him is that I think I’ve spent more time making GIFs this year than he’s spent actually playing baseball. You have to absolutely crush the spirit/leadership portion of the exam to make up for 26⅔ innings. Which he might have. And that’s why the players and coaches are the only ones who get to vote for this.

You’re trying to tell me something about that last sentence, but I’m ignoring you. Moving on!

Odds: 3/1

Jake Peavy

Okay, maybe Peavy is the best teammate any of these players will have. Or maybe it’s Cueto. Heck, they all seem nice.

But Peavy overcame adversity this year, getting scammed out of millions and millions of dollars, yet he didn’t slow down his philanthropy one bit. That’s inspiring. It’s always nice to read about someone with a charitable foundation putting every last bit of himself into it and not using it as some sort of narcissistically craven tax-dodging shell game, but, whoops, we’re off track, and I think Jake Peavy would be a worthy winner.

The difficulty is that the award often goes to someone who’s had a good season. Helping the team win more than the competition is quietly inspiring, too.

Odds: 7/1

Santiago Casilla

Oh, heck yeah.

See, what if he’s the best teammate in the world? What if he’s quietly been the rock of the team this whole time, helping people with marital issues, giving everyone amazing investment advice, quick with a song when the team is feeling down? And what if during the season, this friend, this amazing contributor to all three championship teams, is getting kicked around and beat down by every fan and writer in the area?

Why, you’d reward him for his leadership, for always turning the other cheek and trying his best.

It’s a long shot, but it makes you think.

Okay, it doesn't. But I had fun.

Odds: 25/1

The field

Let’s see, Jeff Samardzija could be a uniting force, and he’s bounced back nicely from some midseason adversity. Brandon Belt’s shoulders slump because that’s when he was carrying you. Denard Span is new, but incredibly well-liked. And, say, Madison Bumgarner is a past winner, but he’s also very, very, very good at what he does. There are probably arguments for most of the players on the team.

Well, maybe not Gordon Beckham. You don’t know, though.

Odds: 25/1

I’ll guess Cueto is the winner, a combination of success and spirit. There’s also the newness — the jovial mirthfulness really caught me by surprise, and I’m someone who is usually desperate to fold the words "jovial mirthfulness" into everything I write. But it’s a wide open field, and I’m just as curious as all y’all to see who wins.