... recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team.
Oh. So in essence it's kind of like the MVP award. That goes to the best player with the qualification that that player is on a team vying for a playoff spot. The Clemente award goes to the player with the best character, the qualification being that player is also a pretty good major leaguer, too. (OK maybe not Harold Reynolds - but it did come after a couple of years where he was fantastic in the field)
Not to be a jerk - I'm sure these guys all deserve praise - but should that really be what this award is about? On the page talking about this year's award they start by listing the important traits of who should be up for this award. Character. Responsibility. Generosity. Dedication. Humanitarian. Hero. Nowhere do they say "All-Star Caliber Talent". It shouldn't matter.
Trying to wrap my head around why it would matter all I can think of is they don't want to "sully" the award named after a great player like Clemente by giving it to the Jamey Carrolls or Joe Horgans of the world. That the award is trying to find other Clementes, other caring superstars. That's fine and all I guess, but then the award isn't about service as much as it is about praising which superstar can deign to take the time out of their busy schedules to help others. It doesn't feel right for this type of award. It's like if they were giving out an award to the most charitable woman in Hollywood and included a provision that read "No oldies or fatties".
I would like to tell you to then go vote for the worst player available but that misses the point too. These are the people up for the award so if you are into voting for things like this read through and vote for who you think deserves it the most. (Ian Desmond is the Nats' nominee this year. Yes he might also be the worst player up for it but don't let that influence you.)