Braves land 11 nominations for 2013 GIBBYs
Breakout seasons, Simmons' defense highlight candidates for awards
ATLANTA -- Over the next couple of weeks, the baseball world will debate the candidacies of the players positioned to be named the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner in their respective leagues. At the same time, fans will have the opportunity to cast their votes to determine the winner in each of the wide-ranging categories recognized by the Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Awards.
The Braves candidates for this year's GIBBY Awards are Craig Kimbrel (best closer), Andrelton Simmons (best defensive player and top play), Chris Johnson (breakout hitter), Mike Minor (breakout pitcher), Luis Avilan (top setup man), Evan Gattis and Julio Teheran (best rookie), Fredi Gonzalez (top manager), Frank Wren (top executive) and the Upton brothers (best walk-off home run).
Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 2013 GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year's GIBBY Awards feature nominees in 22 categories. Individual honors will go to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year's best starting pitcher, hitter, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout hitter, breakout pitcher, comeback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason performer.
GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's top play, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, Cut4 topic, regular-season moment and postseason moment, from MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
In the past five years, fans have cast more than 50 million votes across the various GIBBY categories, none of which was restricted to individual League affiliation. Fan voting runs through Dec. 1.
Winners will be presented their GIBBY trophies at the MLB.com Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards extravaganza during the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
Kimbrel extended his dominance while compiling a 1.21 ERA and striking out 38 percent (98 of 258) of the batters he faced in his 68 appearances. The 25-year-old right-hander converted 50 of 54 save opportunities, including 40 of his last 41. His career-best 50 saves matched Baltimore's Jim Johnson for the most in the Majors.
Simmons, who took home the Rawlings Gold Glove Award among National League shortstops, was credited with 41 defensive runs saved -- the most of any player since the metric was adopted in 2003. The slick-fielding, strong-armed shortstop posted a 5.4 defensive WAR (Baseball-Reference.com's model), which also stands as the highest mark ever produced by a Major Leaguer.
Though Simmons seemingly made jaw-dropping plays on a nightly basis, the most impressive of his gems might have been the improbable 6-3 double play he turned while being shaded toward the third-base bag during the 14th inning of an Aug. 17 game against the Nationals. This incredible turn stands as one of the nominees for Play of the Year.
Johnson proved to be much more than a pleasant surprise as he led the league in hitting as late as Sept. 23. The third baseman finished second in the NL with a .321 batting average. His ability to deliver in key situations was evidenced as he batted .390 with two outs and runners in scoring position.
After turning things around during the second half of the 2012 season, Minor spent this year establishing himself as a legitimate front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. The 25-year-old southpaw posted a 3.21 ERA while making 32 starts and logging a career-high 204 2/3 innings. He entered this season having compiled a 4.37 ERA in his 53 career starts.
Avilan proved to be one of Atlanta's most significant contributors as he more than capably filled the void created after Eric O'Flaherty was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery in mid-May. Avilan's 1.52 ERA ranked third among all Major League relievers who converted 20 saves or fewer.
Gattis and Teheran are contending for the same GIBBY, with both among the 10 nominees for MLB's top first-year player. Gattis was the Majors' rookie leader in RBIs (65) and game-winning RBIs (11), while also ranking second in home runs (21) -- despite making just 91 starts. Teheran also was terrific for the Braves, posting the fourth-lowest ERA (3.20) among all first-year hurlers and ranking among baseball's best with a 3.78 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Gonzalez guided the Braves through the adversity created by a number of significant injuries and the tremendous struggles that led the club's two highest-paid players to end the season on the bench. Despite all of the problems, Atlanta led the NL East all but one day and captured its first division title since 2005.
Wren's decision to give B.J. Upton a franchise-record five-year, $75.25 million contract could continue to handicap the club. But Wren also improved the club last winter with the acquisition of Justin Upton in the blockbuster trade with the D-backs. The veteran GM also deserves credit for strengthening his bullpen with the acquisitions of Jordan Walden and David Carpenter.
The Upton brothers highlighted their first week in Atlanta by hitting a pair of ninth-inning home runs in the April 6 win over the Cubs. B.J. hit a game-tying home run off Carlos Marmol and then Justin ended it with the walk-off shot that has been nominated among this season's best.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.