Waino, Neshek headline Cards' GIBBY nominations
St. Louis boasts several finalists, including Matheny for Manager of the Year
The Cardinals' loss to the Giants in the National League Championship Series doesn't diminish the accomplishments of yet another 90-win campaign, one highlighted by several impressive individual performances.
And with MLB.com's 2014 Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards unveiled, many of those performances have been recognized.
Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 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 25 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, bounceback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason performer.
Though elbow issues led to some struggles in the postseason, there's no denying Adam Wainwright's stellar regular season. Nominated for Starting Pitcher of the Year, the Cardinals' ace won 20 games with a career-best 2.38 ERA and 1.031 WHIP. Wainwright was the NL's starter in the All-Star Game and started three playoff games for St. Louis, though he was winless with a 5.63 ERA this October.
In the bullpen, reliever Pat Neshek is up for two honors -- one for the top setup man and the other for bounceback player. The right-hander signed a Minor League contract as a non-roster invitee back in Spring Training and eventually earned his place in the St. Louis bullpen as one of the club's most reliable relief arms. He pitched in 71 games with a 1.87 ERA, earning his first All-Star nod.
Nominated for Manager of the Year, Mike Matheny became the first Cardinals skipper to lead his club to the postseason in each of his first three seasons at the helm. And he hasn't stopped there, advancing to at least to the NLCS in all three years. In 2014, he guided St. Louis to 90 wins, an NL Central title and the club's fourth consecutive NLCS birth.
The man who put it all together, general manager John Mozeliak, is up for Executive of the Year. Mozeliak constructed the 2014 roster that featured significant turnover from the previous year, most notably at shortstop, where splashy offseason acquisition Jhonny Peralta provided the consistent bat St. Louis had been lacking at the position. Mozeliak also orchestrated a pair of deals near the Trade Deadline to bolster the Cards' pitching staff, adding Justin Masterson and John Lackey to the mix.
And the Cardinals' nominations don't end with the regular season. The club earned recognition in two additional categories this October in Postseason Storyline and Postseason Walk-Off.
The storyline nod is for St. Louis' impressive success against one of the game's best pitchers, Clayton Kershaw. In the NL Division Series against the Dodgers, the Cards torched Kershaw for eight runs in Game 1, then sent Los Angeles packing by beating him again in Game 4. Dating back to the 2013 NLCS, Kershaw has now lost four consecutive playoff starts against St. Louis, posting a 7.15 ERA in those appearances.
And in the walk-off category, rookie Kolten Wong picked up a nomination for his ninth-inning solo homer to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the eventual World-Series champion Giants. The long ball was one of three Wong hit in the postseason.
GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's top regular-season play, outfield throw, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, Cut4 topic, regular-season moment and postseason play. Fans can watch these and more by accessing MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
In the top play category, Randal Grichuk provided one of the year's highlights with a run-saving, diving grab against division-rival Pittsburgh on Sept. 2. First baseman Matt Adams also received a nomination for his walk-off homer against the Pirates on July 7. That two-run blast moved the Cardinals back into second place in the NL Central and was the club's first walk-off homer since the 2011 World Series.
The Cardinals are also involved in a pair of Cut4 topic nominees. The first features "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm's first pitch to St. Louis legend Ozzie Smith on Jon Hamm night at Busch Stadium. The second is video of Yadier Molina barely containing his laughter from the dugout as he sends two packages of crackers to home plate for his brother, Rays catcher Jose Molina.
In the past several seasons, fans have cast millions of votes across the GIBBY categories, none of which is restricted to individual league affiliation. That's how you know the GIBBYs consider the best of the best.
All 30 clubs are represented among the award candidates, a fact many consider to be a testament to the competitive balance around the game.
Fans can vote as many times as they want through Nov. 21 at 10:59 p.m. CT by visiting mlb.com/gibbys, and winners will be announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com on Dec. 6.
Several categories -- Play, Oddity, Walk-Off and Cut4 Topic -- opened balloting with at least one nominee per club. After a week of voting, the four lists were trimmed to 10 finalists per group by a panel.