ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay had a wonderful 2011 season and the Rays have been recognized accordingly with offseason awards.
Highlighting the haul were manager Joe Maddon and rookie right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who claimed American League Manager of the Year and AL Rookie of the Year Awards as voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
"My first thought is always about the group of people who helped get you into this position," said Maddon, who received 26 of a possible 28 first-place votes. "I like to think of it as a validation of the Rays' way of doing things. And that the program we've put together and the culture we've created works. ... First of all, I think it's an organizational award. Personally, I'm very humbled by it."
In addition to being named the AL's top rookie, Hellickson won the Rays' Breakout Player of the Year Award as part of MLB.com's team awards.
"I guess I was a little surprised [to win the BBWAA award], because, like I said, there were a handful of guys who I thought all had the same chance to win," said Hellickson. "I thought I had a good chance, but once I finally did hear my name, I was really happy."
Hellickson was listed first on 17 of the 28 ballots (which are submitted by two writers in each AL city), second on five and third on two to amass 102 points, based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system. Hellickson spent his first full season in the big leagues and led all Major League rookies in ERA (2.95), innings pitched (189), quality starts (20), opponents' batting average (.210) and tied for second in wins with 13.
"I'll tell you what, I'm excited for our team, too," Shields said. "Last year, Price was No. 2, and this year I come in at three, so I think the Rays' pitching staff is starting to put a little bug in people's ears, especially the writers, about how good we are as a staff. So that's good to have."
Besides Hellickson taking home an award from MLB.com, Ben Zobrist captured the Rays Player of the Year Award and Shields won the Rays Pitcher of the Year Award by MLB.com.
Zobrist, who hit .269 with 20 home runs and 91 RBIs, played in a career-high 156 games and led the team in runs (99), hits (158) and doubles (46).
Shields went 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA and 225 strikeouts, 11 complete games and four shutouts -- all career highs -- and set a club record for innings pitched with 249 1/3 innings.
At the end of the season, the Tampa Bay chapter of the BBWAA announced the winners of its annual awards.
Shields won the Most Valuable Player Award, Hellickson won the Outstanding Rookie Award and Johnny Damon won the Paul C. Smith Champion Award, named in honor of late MLB.com writer Paul Smith and presented to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.
Top prospect Matt Moore, who went a combined 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA for Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, won the 52nd annual J.G. Taylor Spink Award as the Topps/Minor League Player of the Year. Moore finished second among all Minors pitchers with 210 strikeouts and a .184 average against. His WHIP of 0.95 ranked third best. Included in those numbers was a no-hitter while pitching for Montgomery on June 16 at Mobile.
Though the Rays had three players nominated for Gold Glove Awards -- Sam Fuld, Evan Longoria and Casey Kotchman -- they were shut out. The club also came up empty in the Players Choice Awards; Shields was nominated for Outstanding Pitcher, Hellickson for Outstanding Rookie and Kotchman for Comeback Player.
Finally, the GIBBY -- Greatness in Baseball Yearly -- Awards are still to come.
Voting for the awards began on MLB.com the day after the completion of the World Series. Fan voting ends Dec. 4, and you can vote up to 25 times per category. That vote, along with votes cast by media, front-office personnel and MLB alumni, will determine the winners.
The 2011 GIBBYs feature nominees in 19 categories. The Rays have the following nominees:
Shields is nominated for the "Starting Pitcher" and "Comeback Player of the Year" awards; B.J. Upton is up for the "Best Defensive Player" award; Hellickson is nominated for the "Rookie" award; Maddon is nominated for the "Manager" award; and Andrew Friedman is nominated for the "Executive" award.
|AL ROY||Rawlings Gold Glove||AL Manager of Year|
|Evan Longoria||2008||Carlos Pena||2008||Joe Maddon||2008|
|Silver Slugger||Comeback Player||ALCS MVP|
|Evan Longoria||2009||Matt Garza||2008||Carlos Pena||2007|
|This Year in Baseball|
|Paul C. Smith Champion||Most Valuable Rays||Outstanding Rookie|
|John Flaherty||1998, '99, 2002||Quinton McCracken||1998||Rolando Arrojo||1998|
|Greg Vaughn||2000||Roberto Hernandez||1999||Ryan Rupe||1999|
|Russ Johnson||2001||Gerald Williams||2000||Steve Cox||2000|
|Al Martin||2003||Tanyon Sturtze||2001||Joe Kennedy||2001|
|Tino Martinez||2004||Randy Winn||2002||Carl Crawford||2002|
|Toby Hall||2005||Aubrey Huff||2003||Rocco Baldelli||2003|
|Carl Crawford||2006||Carl Crawford||2004, '06||Jorge Cantu||2004|
|Carlos Pena||2007, '09||Jorge Cantu||2005||Jonny Gomes||2005|
|Cliff Floyd||2008||Carlos Pena||2007||James Shields||2006|
|Jason Bartlett||2008||Delmon Young||2007|
|Ben Zobrist||2009||Evan Longoria||2008|
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.