I went onto MLB.com and stumbled upon the GIBBYs (Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards) which allow the fans to vote each year for the players and plays that they thought were the best at their respective categories. I ended up voting and figured I’d share those votes with you. Let’s begin, shall we?
Player of the Year- Matt Kemp
If this was the MVP, my vote would have probably changed to Ryan Braun (MIL,OF). However, I felt that Kemp was a worthy recipient of my vote, being as this award is based purely off stats and also because in 2011, Kemp recorded a 39-40 HR/steal season, one home run away from the exclusive 40-40 club.
Starting Pitcher of the Year- Justin Verlander
This one was pretty much a no brainer in my mind, as without Verlander, its very likely that the Tigers don’t even make it into the playoffs. His 24-5 record and dominant season is reminiscent to that of Pedro Martinez in 2001 and when you throw a no-hitter in there, he is untouchable.
Rookie of the Year- Craig Kimbrel
When a player has 46 saves in a season, you know he is an amazing player. But when that player is a rookie, that takes that accomplishment to a whole new level, and that is exactly what Kimbrel did last year. He set a new rookie saves record and posted an otherworldly 14.84 K/9 ratio last year.
Closer of the Year- Mariano Rivera
This one was, at the outset, a tough decision. You have a guy like Jose Valverde, who goes 49-49 in save opportunities, leads his club into the ALCS, and becomes the Tigers all-time single season saves leader, and then you have Mariano. The same Mariano who had 44 saves and a 1.91 ERA this past season. The same Mariano who recorded his 600 and record-breaking 602 saves. And the same Mariano who, at age 41, continued his dominance over MLB hitters for an astounding 14 years straight. That’s my vote for Closer of the Year.
Setup Man of the Year- Jonny Venters
Another close race, but I feel that Venters deserves my vote. Kimbrel and he were the anchors of the Braves bullpen, and without Venters’ solid season, the Braves wouldn’t have fared as well as they ended up: 1 game away from a Wild Card berth. His 35 holds were 2nd in the NL and he still has many more great years to come, as this was only his 2nd Major League season.
Defensive Player of the Year- Asdrubal Cabrera
If you have turned on Sports Center this year, even once, I can guarantee you that you’ve seen at least one of Asdrubal’s amazing plays this year. He induced 78 double plays this year and his finesse and grace when handling the ball is unmatchable.
Breakout Player of the Year- Ryan Vogelsong
This was probably the hardest pick of them all, as how do you choose between a pitcher who went from 9-10 to 21-4 (Ian Kennedy) and one that came from Japan to become a Major League All-Star? I ended up going with Vogelsong, as I felt that his contributions to the Giants this year should not be overlooked, and becoming a MLB All Star after having to readjust to a whole new life in the US from Japan is pretty phenomenal.
Comeback Player of the Year- Jacoby Ellsbury
Yes, its a Red Sox player, but Jacoby was worthy of my vote. He rebounded from a season in which he played only 18 games to post a .321-32 HR-39 steal campaign in addition to providing spectacular defense in center for the Sox, allowing no errors all year. Quite the comeback if you ask me.
Wow Factor of the Year- Robinson Cano
Robby has truly evolved into a different animal from the days in which people considered him to be lazy and to not have a passion for the game of baseball. His strong work ethic has pushed him into a force to be reckoned with on the field each night, and with his amazing glove work, hitting ability, and determination, he certainly “wows” me when he plays the game.
Manager of the Year- Joe Maddon
If this award included the postseason, I would have went with Tony La Russa for his amazing strategizing and spectacular ways of overcoming the odds against strongholds such as the Phillies, Brewers and Rangers. However, being as this award is only applicable towards the regular season, one would have to give it to Joe Maddon for sticking with his players and making the best with what he had. The Rays comeback from nine games back made history, and he totally deserves this award.
Executive of the Year- Jon Daniels
Daniels made key deals and trades to contribute to the formation of the 2011 Rangers, including signing Adrian Beltre, dealing Frank Francisco for Mike Napoli, and acquiring Mike Adams and Koji Uehara at the Trade Deadline to bolster the Texas bullpen. These moves, especially the bolstering of a weak bullpen and not dealing Michael Young, helped the Rangers get to the World Series for the second consecutive year and gave Jon Daniels my vote for Executive of the Year.
Postseason MVP- David Freese
All of the nominees for this award put together strong cases, however, how could I not have voted the NLCS and WS MVP David Freese? His game-tying two-run triple and walk-off home run against the Rangers in Game 6 were historic, and his 21 RBI’s set a new postseason record and led the Cardinals to their eleventh World Series title.
And with that, my votes are in! Did I get them all right?
We’ll just have to wait and see…