Giants star in This Year in Baseball Awards
Hamilton, Doc among those feted in awards season finale
Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was named Player of the Year, Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay was tabbed Starter of the Year, and Armando Galarraga's all-but-perfect game was deemed Best Performance, as the Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Awards were unveiled Friday night on MLB Network and MLB.com in the first all-inclusive studio show to complete Major League Baseball's awards season.
And don't worry anymore about that much-discussed American League Gold Glove issue at shortstop. Elvis Andrus of the Rangers was just named the Defensive Player of the Year, regardless of position.
Winners in 19 categories were announced in a show produced for the first time at the Network's flagship studio in Secaucus, N.J. What made the program unique, after weeks of player recognition, is the ultimate nature of these honors -- as determined through comprehensive, eight-week This Year in Baseball balloting, as well as submissions from hundreds of esteemed, credentialed panelists who account for 75 percent of the totals.
The calculations were based equally on votes by fans at MLB.com, media, front-office personnel and retired players, collectively capping 2010 with the unveiling of MLB's next generation of highly coveted trophies. More than 30 million fan votes have been cast for these 19 categories of awards over the last three years.
"These awards have picked up a lot of heat in their significance. It used to be just a niche online thing for the real hardcore baseball savant," said MLB Network host and veteran play-by-play man Matt Vasgersian, one of the panel voters. "What's really cool is a chance to combine leagues, and to add postseason categories and something like a best Fan Moment -- which aren't taken entirely seriously, but are still fun."
"We're delighted about the ever-increasing profile and importance of these awards, to the voters, recipients and the audience," said Dinn Mann, Executive Vice President, Content, and Editor-in-Chief, MLB.com. "It was a gigantic year, and the nominees and winners are getting well-deserved recognition by millions on both MLB.com and MLB Network."
AL MVP Hamilton outdistanced National League MVP, Reds first baseman Joey Votto, 40 percent to 29 percent in the final Player of the Year voting.
The GIBBY caps an almost perfect year for Hamilton, who led the Rangers to the first pennant in franchise history -- en route to being named American League Championship Series MVP. His teammates also gave him a Ginger Ale shower, an example of how far he has come from his troubled past.
"It's awesome to think about where I am at this moment and where I was," Hamilton said. "There was a 99 percent chance this would never happen and a lot of people would have agreed. There was a 100 percent chance that it wouldn't have happened on my own, but the important thing is I didn't do it on my own. With God, all things are possible."
Starter of the Year came down to the two Cy Young winners, Halladay and Felix Hernandez of the Mariners, with the Doc trumping the King, 57 percent to 30 percent. It was a tough call in "The Year of the Pitcher."
"He's been the same, ever since I first saw him in Spring Training," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Halladay after his postseason no-hitter. "He goes about it the same way. He's like a boxer. If it's a 10-round fight, he's going to train for 20 or 25 rounds, you know. That's who he is."
After picking through all 2,430 regular-season games, the Game of the Year was a landslide winner: Stephen Strasburg's June 8 debut for the Nationals. The right-hander took the mound that day against Pittsburgh amid so much hype, yet he exceeded any expectation by striking out 14 with no walks. Players around the Majors were captivated by the "Next Big Thing."
"The only thing I really remember was the first pitch, and the ball was inside. Everything else is such a blur," said Strasburg, whose dazzling ride in '10 was shortened by Tommy John surgery. "At one point I even lost track of how many innings I had. ... It's kind of like getting married. You tell yourself you want to go out and remember everything. And once it's done, you can't remember anything."
GIBBY Awards voters remembered everything.
The postseason isn't generally factored into baseball awards. But this year, the GIBBY Awards have added a new dimension by celebrating what is traditionally the most exciting time of the year, recognizing the Postseason MVP and best Postseason Moment.
Tim Lincecum, the winning pitcher of the World Series-clinching Game 5 for the Giants, was named Postseason MVP. Halladay, who pitched the second postseason no-hitter ever against the Reds in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, saw his gem cited as the easy choice for Postseason Moment.
"It's hard to explain, but pitching a game like that, being able to win the game comes first," Halladay said after dominating the Reds. "That's kind of your only focus until after it's over with. I think once it ends, it's a little bit surreal to know some of that stuff."
Halladay's catcher, Carlos Ruiz, had career bests with a .302 batting average and .400 on-base percentage, and his stalwart defense was a key for the Phillies. Although most of the notoriety went to the club's "H2O" rotation, the catcher they fondly call "Chooch" was voted X-Factor Player of the Year. He beat out other such key contributors as Omar Infante (then with the Braves), Pat Burrell of the Giants and the Twins' Danny Valencia.
There was a close call in the Moment of the Year balloting. In the end, voters chose Dallas Braden's Mother's Day Perfect Game for the A's over the Oct. 2 Bobby Cox Day ceremony in Atlanta.
Braden's own mother, Jodie Atwood, had died of cancer when he was a high school senior. The pitcher shared a long and tearful hug with the woman who raised him, his grandma Peggy Lindsey, in front of the dugout.
"It hasn't been a joyous day for me in a while," Braden said. "With my Grandma in the stands, it makes it a lot better."
The Play of the Year happened on Opening Day at U.S. Cellular Field. White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle pitched to Cleveland's Lou Marson, who hit a comebacker off the lefty's foot. The ball ricocheted past the first-base line into foul ground. Buehrle chased it down and then magically flipped it with his glove between his legs, a la Roger Federer, and right to first baseman Paul Konerko, who barehanded the toss.
"When stuff like that happens, it surprised me just like it did 40,000 people here today," Buehrle said. "It's one of those when you are running over to do, you see a play happening, you are saying, 'Do I slide and spin or grab the ball and throw it?' Every thought went through my head but that one."
"I think that was the best play I've ever seen," Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo said after that game.
For Performance of the Year, the winner was poetic justice. While there were five regular-season no-hitters, including the two perfect games by Braden and Halladay, Galarraga took home the prize by a wide margin -- making up in small part for a call that cost him a perfect game.
On June 2 in Detroit, Galarraga was one out away from history when umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly called the Indians' Jason Donald safe at first base. Galarraga got the next out for the one-hitter and 3-0 Tigers victory. Joyce apologized afterward to the pitcher, and then they shook hands the next day and moved forward in classy style. In addition to this award, TIME Magazine named it the top sports moment of 2010.
"I just cost that kid a perfect game," Joyce said. "I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay."
"He understands," said Galarraga. "I give him a lot of credit for coming in and saying, 'Hey, I need to talk to you to say I'm sorry.' That doesn't happen. You don't see an umpire after the game come out and say, 'Hey, let me tell you I'm sorry.' He apologized to me and he felt really bad. ... I know nobody's perfect. What are you going to do?"
The Giants built the club's first World Series winner since 1954 and their first-ever in San Francisco. In recognition, general manager Brian Sabean won in the Executive category and Bruce Bochy was voted the year's top manager.
Brian Wilson, who threw the last pitch of the '10 season, was voted Closer of the Year for the Giants. He garnered 58 percent of the vote to beat runner-up Neftali Feliz of Texas.
As for the best pitcher to bridge the gap to those closers? The award for Setup Man of the Year went to Joaquin Benoit, who came back strong for Tampa Bay after missing all of '09 to injury. Benoit, who led all full-time relievers with a 0.68 WHIP, will join the Tigers' bullpen in '11.
Maybe you heard the reaction that followed Derek Jeter's recent AL Gold Glove selection at shortstop. Much of the public dismay came from the Texas region, so it's safe to say a statement was made with the GIBBY Awards. Andrus, the Rangers' shortstop, won Defensive Player of the Year in the closest voting of any category. He received 27 percent of the vote, followed by Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez at 26 percent, with Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman close behind at 22 percent.
Who was the most Dependable Player of '10? Out of 750 players on regular Major League rosters, the one who best fit that description was Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki. He reached the 200-hit mark for the 10th straight year and played 162 games. It was close, though. Ichiro edged Halladay, 43 percent to 39 percent.
The Fan Moment of the Year happened on Aug. 9 in Houston, when a foul ball struck a young woman and everyone around baseball got to meet "Bo the Bailer." He was her boyfriend. He bailed. She got hit. They broke up. Here's his prize.
Roy Oswalt won at least one award in '10: Oddity of the Year. He was a jack-of-all-trades on Aug. 24 at Citizens Bank Park, still riding the buzz over his recent acquisition from the Astros. Here he was playing left field out of necessity in extra innings -- and not just standing there to the curiosity of the crowd, but catching a fly ball. Then, he came up to the plate with the tying run on base, threatening to do the absurd, before grounding out to first. It was odd. And fun.
"It's just a fly ball," Oswalt said. "Everybody makes a big deal out of a fly ball in the outfield, but we catch 50, 60 a day in BP, every day for 162 games, for 10 years. That's a lot of fly balls."
Giants catcher Buster Posey was named Rookie of the Year, receiving 68 percent of the vote to outdistance second-place finisher Feliz of the Rangers. It was the rookie closer's second runner-up finish of the night.
If there was a Breakout Player of the Year in '10, it was Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. "CarGo" emerged as one of the game's best players, finishing as a Triple Crown candidate with an NL-best .336 average, 34 homers and 117 RBIs.
Charley Steiner, the Dodgers' radio play-by-play man and a media panelist, said he went with CarGo in this Player of the Year vote.
"Watching Carlos Gonzalez grow -- and I remember when the Rockies made the deal for [Matt] Holliday -- I said on the air then, 'They'll look back on that deal as a steal,'" Steiner said. "And oh by the way they got [Huston] Street, too. There's not a whole lot of stuff that Gonzalez can't do. He may be the most clear five-tool player out there."