Rays’ Blake Snell wins inaugural MLB The Show Players League

The ‘MLB The Show’ Players League ended Sunday with Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell claiming the championship. Snell swept Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito in three games to win the inaugural title, capping off an impressive postseason run. Over the three-round playoff Snell went 7-1 with a 30-13 run differential.  

With the MLB season delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league-hosted a video-game tournament that kept baseball-hungry fans entertained. The tournament saw representatives from all 30 teams compete versus one another in a 29-game virtual season. Fans watched the players’ three-inning games through streaming platforms in addition to ESPN, ESPN2, MLB Network and FS1.  

After the season, The Players League conducted an award ceremony. Players accounted for 70 percent of the vote with fans responsible for the remaining 30 percent.

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Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo, who concluded just behind Snell in the regular-season standings at 23-6, won Best Player. Baltimore Orioles outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. (19-10) won best manager. In-game MVP, the most impressive virtual player, went to the New York Yankees’ Aaron Hicks. Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette won Best Twitch Name thanks to his “BoFlows” online username and Kansas City Royals outfielder Brett Phillips won Most Entertaining Streamer. Best Reaction went to Rhys Hoskins and Cole Tucker, in which Hoskins jokingly named Tucker’s unborn child.

The top eight teams – Snell, Gallo, Bichette, Jeff McNeil, Smith Jr., Giolito, Ian Happ and Gavin Lux – advanced to the TV-broadcasted postseason tournament.

The quarterfinals started Friday on FS1 and consisted of a best-of-three series, with Snell, McNeil, Happ and Giolito advancing. On Saturday, Snell and Gio beat McNeil and Gio respectively, in best-of-three tournaments. Snell then needed only three games to defeat Giolito Sunday in the best-of-five championship.

To make the league even more interesting, the MLB, MLB Players Association and Sony Interactive Entertainment donated $5,000 on behalf of each participating player to a Boys & Girls Club affiliate in that player’s area. In addition, the winner of the league, Snell, earned a $25,000 donation to his team’s nearest Boys & Girls Club.

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