Not sure how you feel, but I absolutely love award season…when it comes to sports. I have had a true fixation for stats and awards since I was a little child growing up in Amish town-USA (true story).
Even with other sports, such as basketball, I could recite all the All-Star break Slam Dunk Champions as a kid, dating back from Spud Webb to Isaiah Rider, from MJ to Brent Barry. Now as an adult (some friends of mine would argue with this statement already by including that ‘A-word’), baseball is no different. So here is my take on the 2011 ‘Gibbys,’ the Greatness in Baseball Yearly trophies that are awarded based on votes by fans, media and MLB personnel.
Awards They Got Wrong
Rookie Of The Year – Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta Braves), Closer
The guy was nearly perfect. He put up stats that rookies just don’t accomplish. I get it. A 1.04 ERA is incredibly impressive. However there was another guy by the name of Jeremy Hellickson that should have gotten this piece of hardware.
I was torn on this decision for a while. You could throw in Mark Trumbo and Eric Hosmer into the mix, but it was Hellickson that helped lead his team to the post-season. Hellickson had a 2.95 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP and won 13 games for the Rays. Kimbrel is very worthy of accolades, but if I’m drafting a guy today based on last season’s performance, I’m taking Hellickson. A starting pitcher with those numbers is much more valuable and relied upon for far more innings than a closer with similar stats.
Wow Factor Of The Year – Robinson Cano (New York Yankees), 2nd Base
Another case of the ‘Yankee nation’ dominating the votes. That’s right, I said it. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge Cano fan. He’s arguably the best middle infielder in baseball. But how do you not give it to Jose Reyes, who not only won the batting title, but hit an uncanny 16 triples last season with the Mets?
Reyes is not only a speed-demon on the base paths, but is also a tremendous defensive marksman at shortstop. Cano won this award by only 3.3%.
Walk-Off Of The Year – Evan Longoria against Yankees on September 28th
Now they classify this award as “The year's best game-ending moments.” So why is David Freese’s World Series Game 6 walk-off not even a nominee???
Highlighted Awards They Got Right
Player Of The Year – Matt Kemp (Los Angeles Dodgers), Outfield
Strange that Justin Verlander won POY and AL MVP by MLB earlier in the year and Ryan Braun won NL MVP, yet it is Kemp that wins POY during the Gibbys.
Personally I think you can even mention Jacoby Ellsbury here, but I have no problem with Kemp winning this award. Just check out this excerpt from MLB: “Kemp became the seventh player in Major League history to finish the season ranked in the top three in homers (39), batting average (.326), RBIs (126) and stolen bases (40) in their respective league, joining Hall of Famers Ty Cobb (1907, '09-11), Honus Wagner ('08), George Sisler ('20), Chuck Klein ('32), Willie Mays ('55) and Hank Aaron ('63).”
Comeback Player Of The Year – Lance Berkman (St.Louis Cardinals), Outfield
The dude hadn’t hit .300 since 2008 and hovered around .255 with 1 home run while with the Yankees in 2010. Everyone thought he was done, except John Mozeliak and the Cardinals. Berkman’s line in ’11: .301 AVG, 31 HR, 94 RBIs, 90 R, .959 OPS.
Post Season MVP – David Freese (St.Louis Cardinals), 3rd Base
Freese, once my ‘under the radar’ glamour pick for my 2012 fantasy baseball draft, broke out in a huge way and is now a star. So much for ‘under the radar.’
He’s had potential for a long time, and he finally put it all together at the perfect time, winning NLCS MVP and World Series MVP. The hometown hero put up an unreal line of, .397 AVG, 5 HR, 21 RBIs, 12 R, 1.258 OPS .
Freese was also timely, delivering a game-tying, two-out, two-strike, two-run triple in the bottom of the ninth, before crushing his 11th-winning walk-off home run that forced a Game 7 for the Cardinals and an eventual World Series title. The Game 6 performance was part of a World Series contest that will go down as one of the most dramatic ever, and concluded with Freese’s ripped post-walk-off jersey being sent to the Hall of Fame.