Sometime back in the early 2000′s, some MLB executive must have been watching the ESPY’s and said “We need to have some sort of frivolous ceremony with inherently subjective awards decided by a illegitimate voting process of our own!” In 2002, the “This Year in Baseball Awards” (or the TYBAs, as they were called by a few crazy people) were born, and given out for six categories, including the prestigious honor of Blooper of the Year.
In 2010, the ceremony was given the snazzy new title of “The GIBBY Awards”, which is an acronym that doesn’t quite work. Greatness In BaseBall Yearly. Making a preposition part of an acronym? I’m just glad my retired English teacher father can’t figure out how to load this page and read about this.
The awards are reportedly voted on by media, front offices, members of SABR, and…fans, thus making it illegitimate. I don’t have anything against fans. I’m a fan, I rely on fans, but having no real qualification beyond human-ness for voters indicates how seriously one should take these awards, and the rest of this post. For goodness sake, they give out an award for “Best Storyline”, which might actually be a great idea, since it gives voters a harmless location to direct their emotion-driven decisions toward.
The White Sox received five nominations as a team, none of which they have much shot to win, and two of which were soaked up by greedy hoarder, Chris Sale. Sale is up for honors in the categories of Top Starting Pitcher and Breakout Pitcher. A late-season fade combined with 13 other finalists will doom him from the first, whereas who knows what the second award is measuring.
Does “breakout” specifically refer to a young player having a big jump in maturation and performance, or an out-of-nowhere improvement? Jim Johnson, Tom Wilhelmson, and Aroldis Chapman are all candidates, even thought they’re just good relievers who were moved into the closer role. However, Kris Medlen and R.A. Dickey actually tore away from somewhat middling careers to be dominant starters, and while converting from a dominant reliever to a dominant starter is difficult, Sale’s story sounds less magical.
“Holy cow, where did this R.A. Dickey come from?” “He crafted a unique version of a knuckleball near the end of a journeyman career.”
“Holy cow, where did this Chris Sale come from?” “The top-half of the 1st round of the 2010 draft.”
Adam Dunn is up for yet another iteration of the Comeback Player of the Year award, proving once again that his pre-season promise to Hawk Harrelson wasn’t nearly as bold as it seemed. Buster Posey seems like a sure bet to crush him in voting, and this might officially mark that no one is going to do anything to acknowledge Alex Rios. Maybe he should smile more.
Alex Rios is however, the nominee for play of the year, for a home run theft against the Brewers in June.
It’s a great, athletic play that was enabled by Rios’ tremendous length, and it saved runs in a game the White Sox eventually won 1-0, but I don’t like its chances either. First of all, each team had a play nominated, so what more than a snowball’s chance in hell do any of these have? Second, it’s a somewhat garden-variety home run theft save for it looking like the wall caught Alex by surprise just a little bit. He was grimacing a bit more in the full broadcast. Maybe if he had laid there wounded for two minutes, or lost some skin. Next year, Alex. Think about hamming it up in these situations next year. Get some pointers from Alexei Ramirez.
Finally, Philip Humber‘s perfect game is nominated in the category of Pitching Performance. A few years back, a perfecto would lap the field, but this season he’s up against more dominant performances by Felix Hernandez and Matt Cain. Both of those guys are aces that people already want to lavish honors on, whereas Philip Humber gives people wheelbarrows full of cognitive dissonance.
If there was only a category for Best Pitching Performance From a Non-Tender Candidate–next year, in all likelihood, there will be–Humber would have some hardware locked up. These babies get handed out during the winter meetings, so any recognition of Philip’s season was bound to have some awkward context to it.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan