MLB: What Your 2011 GIBBYs Ballot Should Look Like
With the majestic 2011 Major League Baseball season officially in the books, it's time to submit your GIBBYs ballot. Hosted by MLB.com, the GIBBYs (Greatness In Baseball Yearly) honor the very best of the baseball season.
Fans are able to vote on 17 different categories. Whether it's the year's best player, best moment, best executive or best oddity, the power is in your hands.
So if you need a little help on your ballot, allow me to provide you with some assistance. Here is what your GIBBYs ballot should look like.
Player of the Year: Matt Kemp
2011 Stats: .324 AVG, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 115 R, 40 SB
If this category was named "Most Valuable Player," Matt Kemp wouldn't be the choice here. However, this is not for the MVP. This category is for the year's best player, and no one player was more impressive than the Dodgers' center fielder.
Just take a gander at those numbers. A player would be happy if he reached just one of Kemp's totals in any of those hitting categories.
Matt Kemp's gaudy numbers in 2011 reflected how much of a five-tool player he really is. He hit for average, he hit for power, and he even picked up 40 stolen bags and 115 runs in the process.
Other nominees: Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Jacoby Ellsbury, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton
Starting Pitcher of the Year: Justin Verlander
2011 Stats: 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 K, 0.92 WHIP
This has to be the easiest pick on the entire ballot. In fact, it's probably the easiest pick on any ballot ever devised.
Since this selection of Justin Verlander needs little to no explanation, I'll put it like this:
Verlander captured the Triple Crown of pitching in the American League, leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts. He was by far the most valuable and dependable pitcher in all of baseball and may be in line for AL MVP honors.
When a pitcher is an MVP candidate, that tells you a little something about the kind of season he had.
Other nominees (as if they stand a chance): Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Ian Kennedy, Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, James Shields, Jered Weaver, CJ Wilson
Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel
2011 Stats: 46 SV, 2.10 ERA, 127 K, 1.04 WHIP
Speaking of relatively easy selections, Craig Kimbrel comes in for the Rookie of the Year GIBBY. Atlanta's shutdown man led the NL in saves with 46, setting a new MLB rookie record. And although he blew eight saves, not many closers, let alone rookies, did their job better than Kimbrel.
Other nominees: Dustin Ackley, Danny Espinosa, Freddie Freeman, Jeremy Hellickson, Eric Hosmer, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Mark Trumbo, Jordan Walden, Jemile Weeks, Vance Worley
Closer of the Year: Jose Valverde
2011 Stats: 49/49 SVO, 2.24 ERA, 69 K, 1.19 WHIP
Raise your hand if you've ever heard Miley Cyrus' "Nobody's Perfect." If you raised your hand you're either a parent of a teenage girl, a boyfriend of a teenage girl, a brother of a teenage girl or a teenage girl (Don't ask me how I know it).
Anyway, Cyrus was lying. Contrary to her hit song, somebody was perfect.
That's exactly what Jose Valverde was when it came to saving games. Detroit's beer-bellied closer went a perfect 49-for-49 in save opportunities in 2011.
Last time I looked, the job of the closer is to save games. No one in baseball was more efficient than Valverde. Hence, Valverde wins.
Other nominees: John Axford, Joel Hanrahan, Craig Kimbrel, JJ Putz, Mariano Rivera, Drew Storen
Setup Man of the Year: David Robertson
2011 Stats: 34 HLD, 1.08 ERA, 100 K, 1.13 WHIP
David Robertson's 2011 campaign as the Yankees' setup man drew eerie similarities to another pitcher you may know. Just like Robertson, this man chalked up an incredible season as the 8th-inning man in the Bronx.
If you haven't guessed yet, that man was Mariano Rivera back in 1996. Here's a side-by-side comparison of Mo's '96 season and Robertson's '11:
Robertson: 66.2 IP, 1.08 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 100 K, 8 ER
Rivera: 107.2 IP, 2.09 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 130 K, 25 ER
Given Rivera pitched more innings, Robertson still turned in some promising numbers. Had Robertson pitched 107.2 innings as Rivera did in '96 at his '11 rate, he easily beats out Mo in strikeouts and earned runs allowed.
Besides Robertson, no setup man was close to as good this past season as the man they called "Houdini." Robertson takes it in a landslide.
Other nominees: Mike Adams, Joaquin Benoit, Tyler Clippard, Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters
Defensive Player of the Year: Brandon Phillips
2011 Fielding Stats: .992 FLD%, 409 assists
Selecting the year's best defensive player is perhaps the most difficult task on this ballot. So since Brandon Phillips made just six errors at a position where screw-ups are common, I'll give it to him.
Plus, it seemed like he was always on SportsCenter's Top 10 every other day.
Other nominees: Asdrubal Cabrera, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jeff Francoeur, Brett Gardner, Adam Jones, Cameron Maybin, Andrew McCutchen, Mark Teixeira, BJ Upton
Breakout Player of the Year: Ian Kennedy
2011 Stats: 21-4, 2.88 ERA, 198 K, 1.09 WHIP
Coming into the 2011 campaign, Ian Kennedy had chalked up just 10 wins in 44 career starts. Fortunately for Kennedy, this year was different.
In 33 starts with the Diamondbacks this season, Kennedy won 21 games while pitching to an impressive 2.88 ERA. Kennedy also struck out a respectable 198 batters. Not bad for a guy who is supposed to be a ground-ball pitcher.
In addition to his staggering numbers, Kennedy was extremely valuable for Kirk Gibson and his Arizona ballclub. Kennedy was the ace for a 94-win team that beat out last year's World Series champs for the division crown.
Kennedy's statistics and value easily made him one of baseball's best pitchers in 2011, and he is a solid candidate for the NL's CY Young honors.
Other nominees: Alex Avila, Melky Cabrera, Doug Fister, Joel Hanrahan, Justin Masterson, Michael Morse, Ryan Vogelsong
Comeback Player of the Year: Lance Berkman
2011 Stats: .301 AVG, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 90 R
Lance Berkman's career looked to be on its downslide after his 2010 season. After spending his entire career in Houston, the Astros traded away Berkman to the New York Yankees right before last year's deadline. Berkman provided a minor spark to the Yanks lineup, but never really hit his stride. He finished that year with a measly 14 homers and 58 runs batted in.
But despite his depressing 2010 showing, the Cardinals took a chance on Berkman in 2011. Luckily for them, that risk paid off huge dividends. Berkman hit for a .301 average while powering 31 home runs and scoring 94 runs for St. Louis. He gave the Cards another big bat and helped Albert Pujols see some good pitches.
Other nominees: Jacoby Ellsbury, JJ Hardy, Russell Martin, James Shields
Wow Factor: Jose Reyes
The GIBBYs give this honor as "the game's most exciting" star.
There were plenty of exciting players to choose from in 2011, but none defined the term better than Jose Reyes.
Despite playing just 126 games, Reyes smacked 47 extra-base hits (16 of which were triples) and stole 39 bags. Reyes also won the NL batting title with a .337 batting average. In an otherwise disappointing season for the Mets, Jose Reyes gave the Flushing Faithful something to smile about.
A guy that can hit and run at an extremely high level? He has my vote.
Other nominees: Asdrubal Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Starlin Castro, Mike Stanton, Shane Victorino
Manager of the Year: Tony La Russa
Tony La Russa's managing job in 2011 was nothing short of prolific. So if you ask me if he's worthy for this honor, I have just one word for you...
Other nominees: Kirk Gibson, Joe Girardi, Jim Leyland, Joe Maddon, Charlie Manuel, Ron Roenicke, Ron Washington
Executive of the Year: Ruben Amaro Jr.
Let's play a "what if" game.
What if you were the manager of a club and I were a general manager for that same team.
Now what if I gave you Cliff Lee to add to a starting rotation in which I already gave you Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt?
Then, what if I traded for Hunter Pence mid-season to add to a lineup that already had the likes of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco in it?
Wouldn't you be happy? Of course you would!
Ruben Amaro Jr. gave Charlie Manuel and the Phillies all the pieces to win this year's World Series. They had the league's best rotation and one of the league's best lineups. Amaro, more so than any other GM, gave his team the best chance at winning.
Other nominees: Brian Cashman, Jon Daniels, Dave Dombrowski, Andrew Friedman, Doug Melvin, Kevin Towers
Play of the Year: Ben Revere's Grab at the Wall
Shades of Willie Mays...
Ben Revere makes an incredible catch off a deep drive of Vlad Guerrero.
Moment of the Year: Jeter Goes Deep for 3,000th Hit
Whenever Derek Jeter walked up to the plate in pursuit of his 3,000th hit, everyone watched attentively. So when Derek smashed a homer off of David Price to reach the illustrious milestone, the moment was nothing short of amazing.
The Bronx crowd was bumping, the Yankee players were excited, and Derek Jeter finally took it all in. The Rays also deserve some kudos for this moment as the entire Tampa dugout applauded Jeter on the top step.
This was a moment where a once-in-a-lifetime player accomplished an incredible feat.
Performance of the Year: Jeter Goes 5-for-5 with No. 3000
I'm not trying to be repetitive here.
But if you went 5-for-5 with a homer and 2 RBI while picking up your 3,000th career hit, wouldn't you want some respect?
In addition to reaching the milestone, Jeter also provided the Yankees with a huge lift against division rival Tampa Bay.
Oddity of the Year: Sparks Fly Behind Plate
Have you ever seen sparks literally fly during a baseball game? I hadn't either, until I saw the video of Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila.
Walk-off of the Year: Longoria's Home Run Clinches Postseason Berth
Evan Longoria's walk-off homer on the last night of the 2011 regular season is what players play the game for.
It was a perfect ending to a miraculous season.
Fan Moment of the Year: Young Fan Shows Maturity
All the fan moments on the ballot are certainly worthy of this honor. However, this one really stood out.
After Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks made the final out of an inning, he attempted to toss the ball to a young Brewers fan in the Arizona stands. Unfortunately, the throw came up a bit short, just missing the boy. The ball was later picked up by another young fan in the crowd, resulting in a small weeping session by the Brewers kid.
But in an act of unthinkable kindness, the young boy who got the ball gave it to the boy who it was really intended for. Despite accomplishing every young fan's goal in grabbing a ball at a game, this particular kid made an incredible move.
Now Go Vote!
Go to MLB.com to cast your ballot for the 2011 GIBBYs.
Thanks for viewing and make your votes.