The D-backs' acquisition of J.D. Martinez in July provided a major boost to their lineup, as the outfielder went on to hit 29 home runs and tally 65 RBIs in 62 games with Arizona. Meanwhile, franchise cornerstone Paul Goldschmidt put together an award-worthy season that secured him a spot in the Esurance MLB Awards' Best Major Leaguer conversation.
In addition to Gold Glove Award-winning defense at first base, Goldschmidt was an imposing presence in the middle of the batting order, as he slashed .297/.404/.563 with 36 home runs, 34 doubles and 94 walks. He finished fourth in the National League with 120 RBIs.
Perhaps Martinez's most memorable moment came against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Sept. 4, when he became the 18th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in a single game. It's that performance that earned Martinez a nomination for Best Performance in this year's Esurance MLB Awards.
Martinez was so good for Arizona, it makes sense that the man who acquired him is also nominated. Club executive vice president and general manager Mike Hazen executed the deal that brought Martinez from Detroit for three Minor Leaguers. For that, and many other reasons, Hazen is nominated in the Best Executive category. He engineered a turnaround that saw the D-backs go from 93 losses to the NL Division Series in one year.
Torey Lovullo, who led that turnaround on the field for Arizona in his first season at the helm, was named National League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday and is also a nominee for the Esurance Best Manager Award.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor MLB's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five groups, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) members.
The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the American and National Leagues from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.
Voting led off with seven categories on Sept. 18 at mlb.com/awards, serving as the grand entrance of a program that unveiled nominees for Best Call, TV/Radio; Best Major Leaguer, Postseason; and Best Postseason Moment following the Fall Classic's final out. The ninth inning of voting began around BBWAA Awards week, which opened when the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award winners were unveiled Monday,. Voting in the Best Executive, Best Rookie, Best Manager and Best Pitcher categories went live earlier this week, preceding balloting in the Best Major Leaguer category.
MLB Awards season will culminate Friday, when winners are announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com starting at 6 p.m. MT.
Martinez's four-homer performance came in a 13-0 rout of the Dodgers that gave the D-backs their 11th straight win. He went deep in the fourth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings against LA pitchers Rich Hill, Pedro Baez, Josh Fields and Wilmer Font.
"[That last] at-bat, I came up and I was like, just go up here and try to have a good at-bat," Martinez said after the game. "Just keep doing what you've been doing all day. You know what, if it's meant to be, it's meant to be. It's going to happen. There's no point in trying to force it."
Lovullo, meanwhile, took over as manager of a club that was 69-93 in 2016 and piloted it to a 93-69 record this season.
"Coming in, changing the culture, turning everything around, getting everybody on board and doing it in your first year," said D-backs pitcher Robbie Ray. "Just being relatable to the players, being open, conversations back and forth. That's what you want in a manager, and you saw how we wanted to play for him. Every day."
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.