October standouts vie for a GIBBY Award
Red Sox's Big Papi leads group of 13 Postseason MVP nominees
David Ortiz's Red Sox teammates this postseason revealed they have another nickname aside from the widely used Big Papi for the veteran slugger: Cooperstown.
Whether Ortiz ends up in the Hall of Fame remains to be seen, but there is no question that his World Series performance was historic. Ortiz, in fact, put up Fall Classic numbers that even those already enshrined in Cooperstown never did.
The Hall of Fame voting will have to wait, but for now fans can cast their votes for Ortiz for the Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award for Postseason MVP. Ortiz is matched up against 12 other nominees, all of whom raised their game to the next level in this year's dramatic postseason.
"This is what you get prepared for all year 'round," Ortiz said in the midst of his World Series MVP run. "I don't play for July. I play for this right now."
Ortiz finds himself nominated alongside five teammates in the running for the Postseason MVP GIBBY. Also nominated from Boston are starting pitchers Jon Lester and John Lackey, closer Koji Uehara and outfielders Shane Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury.
The National League-champion Cardinals have four players -- outfielders Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday, starting pitcher Michael Wacha and closer Trevor Rosenthal -- up for consideration, while the Dodgers' Carl Crawford and Detroit's co-aces, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, round out the field.
Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 2013 GIBBY Award trophies -- the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year's GIBBY Awards feature nominees in 22 categories. Individual honors will go to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year's best starting pitcher, hitter, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout hitter, breakout pitcher, comeback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason performer.
GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's top play, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, Cut4 topic, regular-season moment and postseason moment from MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
In the past five years, fans have cast more than 50 million votes across the various GIBBY categories, none of which was restricted to individual league affiliation.
Fan voting runs through Dec. 1.
Winners will be presented their GIBBY trophies at the MLB.com Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards extravaganza during the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
Ortiz put up nearly unrivaled numbers in the World Series, posting an eye-popping .688 (11-for-16) average to go along with eight walks (four intentional) in six games against the Cardinals. Only Reds outfielder Billy Hatcher, who hit .750 (9-for-12) in the 1990 Fall Classic, posted a better batting average in a single World Series.
"He's as hot as anyone you're going to see this time of year," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after the Series. "We tried to make tough pitches in tough situations, tried to pitch around him at times."
Ortiz, however, wasn't the only player in the league -- or on his own team, for that matter -- to shine in October.
The Red Sox were led in their World Series run by a pair of dominant arms at the top of the rotation and another one at the back end of their bullpen. Lackey went 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA this postseason, while also being the winning pitcher in a World Series-deciding game for the second time in his career. Lackey also notched a Game 7 win for the Angels in their 2002 World Series victory over the Giants.
Lester was even more dominant, going 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA, including 2-0 with a microscopic 0.59 ERA in two World Series starts. He allowed two runs or fewer in each of his five postseason outings, but managed to somehow raise his game to an even higher level in the Fall Classic.
"I don't know what else to say about Jon Lester that I haven't already said," Red Sox catcher David Ross said in the midst of the ace's postseason dominance. "The guy is our backbone. He's our horse when he's out there. We expect a lot out of him. He's pitching like the ace he is."
Uehara, meanwhile, earned AL Championship Series MVP honors after turning in five scoreless appearances, totaling six innings, against the Tigers. He also tied a single-postseason record with seven saves, joining Brad Lidge, Robb Nen, Troy Percival and John Wetteland.
As for the runner-up Cardinals, veteran sluggers Beltran and Holliday keyed St. Louis' offensive attack, while Wacha and Rosenthal provided just a glimpse of the extremely talented young arms in the Cards' system.
Beltran reached the World Series for the first time in his 16 big league seasons and made one of the best defensive plays of the postseason. In Game 1, Beltran robbed Ortiz of a grand slam, crashing into the wall and bruising his ribs in the process. He departed the game, but battled through the injury to play the remainder of the series.
Wacha, meanwhile, led the way for St. Louis' pitching staff. With just nine career regular season starts under his belt, the rookie flirted with a no-hitter in his first postseason outing in Game 2 of the NL Division Series against the Pirates. He settled for a win in which he allowed just one run off one hit over 7 1/3 innings before throwing 13 2/3 shutout innings in a pair of NL Championship Series victories.
Rosenthal was equally as brilliant out of the bullpen. Not named the team's closer until late September, Rosenthal tossed 11 2/3 scoreless innings over 10 October appearances, while also leading all relievers with 18 postseason strikeouts.