GIBBYs nominees revealed, voting begins
Trophies will be presented Dec. 4 to winners across 21 categories
From the Opening Series in Japan to the Fall Classic's final out, the book on the 2012 big league campaign officially closed with the San Francisco Giants clinching their second World Series title in three years.
The season was saturated with fantastic feats, unforeseen ascents and memorable moments. But which were the best? Now it's time for you to help decide as voting has opened for MLB.com's 11th Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards.
MLB's A-listers will take home GIBBYs trophies, the ultimate honor of baseball's awards season, based on voting by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research. 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 playoffs, making them unique in singling out the best of the best.
Regardless of which team you follow or how your season went, all 30 clubs are represented among the award candidates.
Individual honors will be given for MLB MVP, top Hitter, Starting Pitcher, Setup Man, Rookie, Breakout Hitter, Breakout Pitcher, Comeback Player and Closer. Balloting also will determine the GIBBY winners for Postseason MVP, Defensive Player, Manager and Executive.
To light a debate fire during the Hot Stove season, voters are being asked to help select the MLB MVP -- a new category this year honoring the game's top star.
"The GIBBYs are the most comprehensive season awards in baseball," said Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper, who was the GIBBYs voting panel last year. "Not only can you vote on Player of the Year and Starting Pitcher of the Year, but also categories like Walk-off, Postseason Moment and even Fan Moment ... they all highlight some of the season's great moments."
The Rays' Fernando Rodney has already been voted Closer of the Year by a panel of experts after posting the lowest ERA (0.60) for any hurler in history with at least 50 innings pitched.
Rodney -- who tallied 37 saves in 2009 -- will need voter support to prevail in a Comeback Player of the Year competition against Giants catcher Buster Posey, who bounced back brilliantly from a season-ending leg injury sustained in May 2011, and rejuvenated White Sox slugger Adam Dunn.
Pirates director of player personnel Tyrone Brooks, also a member of the 2011 voting panel said: "Because we are polling so many different people, it's not just the players or fans, it's people inside and outside the game, who watch and can say that was the most popular play or that was the best player in that category. We're giving everybody a voice."
The year's top Storyline, Hitting Performance, Pitching Performance, Play, Walk-off, Oddity, Cut4 Topic and Postseason Moment also will be honored. The nominees come with supporting video evidence, courtesy of MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
Yankees reliever David Robertson, the 2011 Setup Man of the Year, called winning a GIBBY "a huge honor."
In the past four seasons, fans have cast more than 40 million votes across the various GIBBYs categories. Who is up for consideration this year? Let's take a look.
Where to even start the debate on the Majors' Most Valuable Player in 2012? In one corner sits slugger Miguel Cabrera, MLB's first Triple Crown winner since 1967. In another corner stands Mike Trout, who paced the sport in runs and steals while also hitting for average and pop. Fans with a predilection for power/speed types also should give serious consideration to NL Central All-Stars Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen.
Selecting the superlative starting pitcher won't be any easier. Reigning winner Justin Verlander made a strong case to keep his crown, striking out more hitters than anyone in the sport and posting the American League's second-lowest ERA, WHIP and opponents' average. But this is a deep group that includes two men who tossed perfect games in 2012 -- Matt Cain and Felix Hernandez -- among others.
The Defensive Player finalists were selected with assistance from the Society for American Baseball Research, which used traditional statistics and advanced analyses to determine 2012's glove gurus. After careful consideration, 15 players were picked for the final conversation.
The top rookies list includes -- surprise! -- Trout, who was nominated for five GIBBYs in total (Hitter, Rookie, Defensive Player, Defensive Play and Storyline, shared with Bryce Harper). Harper, the Nationals' 19-year-old who also belongs in the top rookie conversation, enjoyed one of the greatest seasons for any teenager in MLB history.
As tremendous as Trout and Harper were, their speedy ascent to stardom precluded them from Breakout Hitter consideration. This list includes Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays bopper who belted the big leagues' fourth-most long balls, and the NL's RBI leader in Chase Headley.
In the Breakout Pitcher category, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey dazzled during one of the most surprising seasons in recent memory. He should face stiff competition from fellow starters Chris Sale and Kris Medlen and the MLB saves leader, Jim Johnson.
All 10 postseason managers are up for GIBBYs, too. Will you vote for one of the Cinderella stories (Buck Showalter, Bob Melvin) or the last skipper standing (Bruce Bochy)? Ask yourself the same question with the general managers, who are listed under the Executives tab.
These awards date back to 2002, when there were five categories. One of them had been Bloopers, which became Oddity, and is always one of the most entertaining choices to make. Remember when Giancarlo Stanton temporarily disabled a panel on Miami's auxiliary scoreboard? There are many great choices, and part of the GIBBYs fun is the clicking of links to watch all the clips.
If oddities are your cup of tea, you will undoubtedly enjoy toggling through the inaugural Cut4 Topic category. Some of these videos will make you laugh out loud, and others may move your emotions. And who could forget Bryce Harper's "That's a clown question, bro" quip, the postgame one-liner heard 'round the world?
The "Must C" category also contains many of the season's most memorable performances. If you want to vote for a pitcher, there were a record-tying seven no-hitters, including three perfect games. For those who dig the long ball, well, Josh Hamilton hit four in one May game, and Carlos Gonzalez went deep in four straight at-bats across two contests. Just don't forget about Aaron Hill, who became the first big leaguer since 1931 to hit for the cycle twice in one season. He did so in less than a fortnight.
Fans can vote as many times as they want through Dec. 2, and the winners will be presented their GIBBY trophies at the MLB.com Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards extravaganza during Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 4.
So sit down ... nah, stand up ... and help define how we remember one of the greatest seasons in recent memory.
Zachary Finkelstein is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.