Bucs stars Liriano, Cutch honored by peers
Lefty earns pair of Comeback Player awards; outfielder NL's Outstanding Player
The Pirates' wonderful 2013 continued on Monday night, when Andrew McCutchen and Francisco Liriano picked up prestigious Players Choice Awards.
For the second time in as many years, McCutchen was voted National League Outstanding Player by his fellow players, who also chose Liriano as the NL's Comeback Player.
McCutchen was touched by the peer prop, referring to being the players' pick over St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina and Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt as "definitely an honor."
"It means a lot to know the players we play against again voted for me," McCutchen said on MLB Network after the announcement of his award.
McCutchen's season was highlighted by his becoming only the fourth center fielder in history to post a second consecutive season with a line of .300/.400/.500 or better, as he batted .317 with an on-base percentage of .404 and a slugging percentage of .508.
McCutchen thus had a "split" for the night, having "lost" the cover of the next edition of the popular video game MLB The Show. McCutchen had earned cover status for MLB 2013 The Show through online fan balloting, but MLB players got to select next year's cover boy and have chosen Tigers star Miguel Cabrera for the game, set for a spring '14 release.
McCutchen made that announcement at the end of the telecast, congratulating Cabrera and calling his own chance to grace the game's cover "something I will always have."
Liriano's triumphant season was a comeback squared. He bounced back from a 2012 season in which he went 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA, and from a late-December right arm fracture that delayed his first start until May 11.
Liriano -- also a finalist for NL Outstanding Pitcher, which went to Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers -- led the Bucs into the postseason with a 16-8 record and 3.02 ERA, then pitched them to a 6-2 victory over the Reds in the NL Wild Card Game.
"I thank the Pirates for giving me an opportunity to play," Liriano, speaking from his native Dominican Republic, said on MLB Network. "After I broke my arm, I didn't think I would be playing. But they gave me a chance to play and to prove myself, and everything went well.
"It's a great feeling; I'm very excited," Liriano said of being honored by fellow players. "I think I surprised even myself this year, but I was always positive, because I know anything can happen in baseball if you work hard."
Mere minutes before the Players Choice announcements, Liriano had also picked up MLB's official NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, as selected by online voters at MLB.com.
Players chose Liriano over two other comeback candidates -- his late-season teammate, Marlon Byrd, and Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
As part of the MLB Players Association's Players Choice Awards program, the Players Trust presents each winner with $20,000 for the charities of his choice.
McCutchen said he is splitting his award between Pirates Charities and two foundations run by the Pirates' team chaplain, Brad Henderson. Liriano is presenting his grant to the church in his Dominican hometown of San Cristobal.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.