The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) announced Whit Merrifield as the Kansas City Royals 2019 Heart and Hustle Award winner.

This award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game.

The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.

“Whit embodies the passion, heart and grit [it takes] to have become one of the best players on the planet,” five-time All-Star veteran and Royals special assistant to baseball operations, Mike Sweeney, said. “Whit is also a great leader on and off the field. He represents the Royals in an exemplary manner.”

The MLBPAA formed 30 committees, comprised of Alumni players with established relationships to each team.

One player from each Major League team is chosen by the committees based on their passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.

These players will be recognized prior to an upcoming home game.

As the season draws to a close, fans, alumni and active players will vote to select the final winner from the 30 team winners.

The overall winner will be announced Nov. 7, at the 20th Annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City.

This event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics.

These clinics impact more than 19,000 children each year at 185 clinics, allowing them the unique opportunity to interact with and learn from players who have left a lasting impact on the game of baseball.

The previous overall winners were David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Dustin Pedroia (2013), Josh Harrison (2014), Anthony Rizzo (2015), Todd Frazier 2016), Brett Gardner (2017) and Mookie Betts (2018).