11/20/12 5:32 PM ET
Voters are enthusiastic about GIBBYs
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
The D-backs president said he relished the opportunity to help decide the 11th annual Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards, which will be revealed Dec. 4 during the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
"I think the GIBBYs are such a unique opportunity for us to showcase organizational talent, and for myself, this is the first time I'm going to be able to vote on it. I'm very excited to do it," Hall said. "The GIBBYs are gaining momentum, they're gaining notoriety and a following, and the more that we can provide exposure for it, generate excitement about it. You look at the quality of nominees, and how can you not be excited or want to be a part of it?"
While Hall was not prepared to reveal his own picks, his enthusiasm for this voting process was typical of the response MLB.com heard from a sampling of panelists. Voting is under way until 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 2, and one thing that makes GIBBYs trophies the ultimate honor of Major League Baseball's awards season is the breadth of expert perspective that decides them.
Voters include front-office personnel like Hall; media, including broadcasters; former Major League players; and fans who can vote as often as they wish at MLB.com.
"It is an honor to vote for the GIBBYs," said longtime Red Sox radio play-by-play man Joe Castiglione. "Other than DH of the Year, we broadcasters really have no other vote. I think Play of the Year is cool. It is almost impossible to rank great plays, but Mike Trout's catch in Baltimore was indescribable, and so was Daniel Nava's catch. Daniel had to be one of the most improved outfielders in baseball."
GIBBYs categories include players from both leagues -- recognizing the best in each category in all of baseball -- and include performances not only from the regular season but also through the end of the postseason, making them unique in singling out the best of the best. All 30 clubs are represented. So while a team like Boston may have had a down year, you'll find examples like the one Castiglione mentioned -- Nava's amazing catch -- included among a multitude of beauties.
There are 13 "Stars" categories and eight "Must C" categories, covering the gamut.
The MLB MVP award is a major addition this year to the "Stars" category. It features five nominees, including Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and Buster Posey of the Giants, who won their respective leagues Most Valuable Player Awards last week as voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. This is where voters decide which of those two was more valuable -- or whether one of the three others deserves it.
"Broadcasting the Nationals on a daily basis, I found myself involved in some great moments in the best year for the franchise," said Washington radio play-by-play announcer Charlie Slowes. "Voting for the Gibbys makes fans a part of it all at season's end, picking their favorite achievements and moments."
Individual honors also will go to top Hitter, Starting Pitcher, Setup Man, Rookie, Breakout Hitter, Breakout Pitcher, Comeback Player and Closer. Balloting also decides GIBBYs for Postseason MVP, Defensive Player, Manager and Executive. GIBBYs also go to top play, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, Cut4 topic and postseason moment, from MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
There are 21 categories, but 20 in which you can vote, because Fernando Rodney already has been announced as the GIBBY winner for best closer.
"Just being a part of that whole process, it's interesting how it drove me to my real love of baseball and gets you past the partisan bias you might have, and you realize how big the game is," said Cardinals broadcaster and former World Series pitcher Rick Horton. "Just being a part of the voting is a way to celebrate the achievement in the game you love so much. It's an honor to be a part of that."
Horton said his greatest challenge was deciding on Postseason Moment.
"I was debating trying to be unbiased and kind of take off my Cardinal hat for a moment, but I still couldn't get past what the Cardinals did against the Nationals," he said. "What they didn't do in Game 5 against the Giants was another story. But that's what stuck out most to me in the voting. I didn't want to be biased, I wanted to be as neutral as possible, but I just think the Nationals were so good all season, and it was so over, and just the comeback ... that's where I ended up, but it wasn't easy."
He went with Cardinals over Nationals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. How about you? There are seven candidates in that category, including Pablo Sandoval's three-homer barrage in the World Series opener against Detroit. The masses will decide.
"We see moments all year, and I guess it's a reflective process, too, as a broadcaster," Horton said. "Any fan voting, or any person connected to the process, it's reflective of all the great achievements over the year and it gives context and gives you a chance to award multiple things.
"I'm fortunate to be around Red Schoendienst, and you know how many years he has been in the game. Red likes to say: 'As many years as I've been around, I will see something each year I've never seen before, and that's one of the reasons I love baseball.' That's a great reminder."
It's also a reason for the GIBBYs.
"The best thing about the GIBBYs is, there are many more categories to look over, review and ultimately appreciate the skills, both offensively and defensively, of the players in MLB than with your traditional awards," said Reds broadcaster Jim Kelch.
"The Plays category is the best to me -- a chance to relive all the gems, from Travis Snider's over-the-wall catch at New York, to the diving grab by San Francisco's Gregor Blanco to save Matt Cain's perfect game, to, of course, the great glove work of our own Brandon Phillips. Great stuff."
Mets broadcaster Josh Lewin just watched R.A. Dickey take home the NL Cy Young Award last week from the BBWAA. The American League version went to Tampa Bay's David Price. The cool thing about the GIBBYs is that only one starting pitcher will get the ultimate recognition.
"Baseball writers shouldn't have all the fun," Lewin said. "There are plenty of fans out there who are beyond knowledgeable, and it's nice to give them a voice too. Additionally, the voting system is cool to navigate -- very friendly to the touch, if you will.
"I really like the idea of a Starting Pitcher award, to end the debate about whether or not Craig Kimbrel or Fernando Rodney were Cy Young-worthy like a Dennis Eckersley. It's a logical thought, probably overdue. And, Mets allegiances aside, I was thrilled to be able to cast my vote for R.A. Dickey."
Angels legend Tim Salmon said he likes the idea of giving agency to fans when it comes to awards.
"I like the fact that I actually have a say in these awards," Salmon said. "Its fun to be a fan of the game and to recognize just a few more players and the great performances they had during the season."
Salmon wanted to make sure players who aren't necessarily household names were also honored for their great work. He said he voted for Chase Headley as Breakout Hitter.
"While none of these players had a chance of winning the MVP," Salmon said, "I thought many of their performances played significant roles on their respective teams and deserve some credit."
The GIBBYs vote goes on. Major League execs, media, MLB alumni and you are deciding. Awards season is not even close to over in the national pastime.