Until recently, I wasn’t all that familiar with the “GIBBYs”. After doing some research, I found out that a form of these awards have been around since 2002, but they’ve only been known as the GIBBYs since 2010. GIBBY stands for Greatness in Baseball Yearly, and is a way to wrap up the Winter Meetings. The “This Year in Baseball Awards” (as they were originally known ) were created by Major League Baseball as another way to recognize some of the top performers and performances of the recently completed season. They made sure to position this awards show after all of the “official” awards are handed out.
In recent years, the Royals have had few nominees and even fewer winners (Zach Grienke as Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2009). Some of them were hits, like Billy Butler being up for Best Rookie. Some of them were misses, like Brian Bannister being up for the same award. Due to their recent records, the Royals have had more of a chance to be up for best play or the best rookie award than Player, Manager, or Executive of the Year.
This year, however, the Royals had five nominations for four different awards. Although nobody took home the hardware, it was good to see some of the Royals get recognized for their performance in 2011.
The winners of each award are chosen by a combination vote. It takes into account the votes of fans via mlb.com, members of the media, front-office personnel, and MLB alumni. The show itself could use some work, as one can only take a half-drunk half-crazy Mitch Williams for so long. A couple of players made the effort to show up and accept their award in person, but most did not bother or just mailed in a video thank you.
The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp took home the Best Player GIBBY and Justin Verlander won the award for Best Pitcher. David Robertson of the Yankees was the Setup Man of the Year, and The Tigers’ Jose Valverde was the Closer of the Year.
The show officially jumped the shark when Kirk Gibson (Gibby) won the GIBBY for Best Manager.
Frenchy was also up for the Play of the Year Award for his home-run robbing catch against the Mariners in Seattle.
“He made an amazing catch! Jeff Francoeur made the play of his life!” -Ryan Lefebvre
A second Royals play was up for this award – a double play turned by Johnny Giavotella, Alcides Escobar, and Eric Hosmer against Oakland on September 5th. This play finished 9th with 2.4% of the vote.
“WOW! A diving play by Giavotella, Escobar grabbing the throw with his bare hand, then Hosmer down to his knees to save it.” – Ryan Lefebvre
Ultimately, Ben Revere of the Twins won this award for his over the shoulder, against the CF wall catch that made Willie Mays’ look like a can of corn. It was worthy of winning. If you haven’t seen it, you need to look it up.
The last Royal up for a GIBBY was Melky Cabrera, who was up for Breakout Player of the Year. He finished 7th with 3.2% of the vote to Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks. Personally, I thought Melky was more of a Comeback than a Breakout, but that’s just me. Lance Berkman was the Comeback player of the Year. He earned the award leading the Cardinals to the World Series after his best days seemed to be behind him.
I was disappointed that no Royals won, but like the losers at awards shows always say, “it was nice just to be nominated”. Now that I know what these awards are, I’ll look for one or more of them to make their way to Kansas City next year.
Full GIBBY coverage and recaps, along with clips of the players and plays, can be found at mlb.com.