Rizzo's toppling grab among Cubs' GIBBY nominees
Other candidates: Barney's defense, Wood's breakout season, Wrigley Field fog
CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo's diving catch, Darwin Barney's defense, Travis Wood's stellar season and the fog at Wrigley Field are some of the highlights from the 2013 Cubs' season, and all are up for contention for MLB.com's Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards.
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.
Rizzo's amazing grab at Wrigley Field on May 2 is competing for top play. With one out in the seventh inning of a scoreless game against the Padres, Chase Headley hit a popup that drifted toward foul territory near first base. Rizzo tracked it and was able to catch the ball and hold on despite falling between the tarp and brick wall. He escaped without a cut or scrape.
"I actually had a bad read on it," Rizzo said the next day. "The wind, I thought, would blow it quicker, and next thing you know, it's behind me. It was just an instinct play."
There is a top play candidate for each team, including a defensive gem by the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig and a triple play by the Yankees.
Barney was nominated in the top defensive player category, and the Cubs second baseman will have some tough competition from the Orioles' Manny Machado, the Rays' Evan Longoria, the Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia, the Braves' Andrelton Simmons, the Cardinals' Yadier Molina and the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki.
This season, Barney led all National League second basemen and was tied with Pedroia and the Rays' Ben Zobrist for top fielding percentage.
Wood is a candidate for top breakout pitcher and is coming off a stellar season in which the lefty set career highs with 200 innings in 32 starts. A first-time All-Star, Wood finished tied with the Phillies' Cliff Lee for fourth in the league in quality starts with 24.
He is the first Cubs lefty to reach 200 innings since Ted Lilly did so in 2008, and his quality starts are the most by a Cubs lefty since Ken Holtzman had 25 in 1970. Wood kept his team in games, yet the Cubs scored an average of 2.79 runs per game, the lowest in the Majors.
Among Wood's competition for the GIBBY award are the Orioles' Chris Tillman, the Red Sox's Koji Uehara, the Braves' Mike Minor, the Mets' Matt Harvey, the D-backs' Patrick Corbin and the Padres' Andrew Cashner.
On June 10, heavy fog at Wrigley Field made it nearly impossible to see in the Cubs' game against the Reds, although Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips had no trouble, hitting a grand slam in a 6-2 win. The ballpark was blanketed by fog at the start of the game.
"It was unbelievable -- the first at-bat was hard," Chicago's Starlin Castro said. "When I went up for the first at-bat, I saw the ball at the last moment. Everybody said the same. You could only see a little bit of white coming to home plate. It wasn't easy."
Scott Feldman, the Cubs' starting pitcher that day, singled to center in the third. The Reds' Shin-Soo Choo never saw the ball until the last minute because of the fog.
Cubs television broadcasters Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies had a tough time from their vantage point in the upper deck and joked that Wrigley was going to add a lighthouse as part of the renovations. There was a fly ball to Alfonso Soriano in left that was nearly impossible to see.
"If he caught it, I wouldn't know," Kasper said.
Other odd plays in contention for top GIBBY honors include a hidden-ball trick, a midgame shave, and a Puig play. All can be viewed at MLB.com.