SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – ESPN has come out with its final 4 nominees for its Male Athlete of the Year ESPY Award and there is one Giant omission: Madison Bumgarner.
On Wednesday, the sports network announced the finalists for the annual awards gala, but left Bumgarner – the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year – out of the running for the top individual prize among men. Here’s a look at the numbers four players ESPN thought were more worthy of the ESPY:
Aaron Rodgers – The Packers signal caller (and Cal alum) was back to his usual defense-annihilating self last season, putting up a 12-4 record while compiling the highest yards per attempt and lowest interception rate in the NFL. You can hardly pin his team’s overtime loss in the playoffs on Rodgers, but his 38 touchdown regular season didn’t lead to him hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, so the NFL MVP’s resume isn’t entirely complete.
J.J. Watt – A defensive player ending up on one of these lists is a testament to just how unstoppable Watt has become. He put up 20.5 sacks and recovered 5 fumbles, including a score, with another TD coming via interception. Plus he scored three times on the offensive side of the ball. Respect. But it’s impossible to measure the NFL Defensive MVP’s postseason efforts against the other nominees because, well, he plays for the Houston Texans.
LeBron James – King James was a statistical monster in the NBA Finals, elevating a badly depleted team to the verge of a title. LeBron led everyone in the series per-game averages of points (35.8), rebounds (13.3) and assists (8.8). But his regular season efforts put him well behind Steph Curry and James Harden in the MVP vote. James also looked overworked and worn out when it came time to wrap his arms around the trophy. You know who didn’t show signs of wearing down when it really counted? Madison Bumgarner.
Stephen Curry – Hard to argue with the MVP of the NBA (and Dub Nation) making the list, but despite sinking his own 3-point record during the regular season and torching the history books when it comes to hitting 3-pointers in the postseason, Steph was largely outplayed by both LeBron and teammate Andre Iguodala in the Finals. Still, these highlights alone mean he deserves a spot on the list.
By comparison, in the 2014 MLB Playoffs Bumgarner pitched a remarkable 52 2/3 innings, with an ERA of 1.03 while striking out 45. For his troubles, he was named NLCS and World Series MVP. That’s just a partial list of his amazing accomplishments over the last year.
The 25-year-old capped off a performance for the ages in the World Series, pitching five scoreless innings of relief in Game 7 as the Giants held off the Kansas City Royals 3-2. It was just two days after his complete game victory brought the team to within a game of a third San Francisco title. But, to be fair, Bumgarner did not turn into a full-blown superhuman until after the regular season, posting an 18-10 record with a very solid 2.98 ERA.
Bumgarner still has a chance to win an individual ESPY, but he’ll have to take down Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the “Best Championship Performance” category or take down four of the MLB’s biggest names in the best Best Baseball Category.
ESPN is taking votes right now on the individual awards. They haven’t yet announced if the Warriors or Giants are finalists in the Best Team category.