Mets receive several GIBBY Award nominations
deGrom, Lagares and Duda among those cited on the ballot
A 79-83 season still featured several bright spots for the Mets, whether it was Jacob deGrom's sparkling debut, Juan Lagares' exploits in center field or Lucas Duda's powerful emergence.
Those three account for some of the Mets' nominations for MLB.com's Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Awards, with deGrom up for top Rookie and Regular-Season Moment, Lagares for Defensive Player and Play and Duda for Breakout Hitter. Curtis Granderson (Walk-Off) and Matt den Dekker (Oddity) were also nominated for New York.
Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 2014 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.
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, postseason storyline, postseason walk-off and postseason play. Fans can watch these and more by accessing MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
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 11:59 p.m. ET by visiting mlb.com/gibbys, and winners will be announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com on Dec. 6.
deGrom has a shot at two GIBBYs, after bursting onto the Major League scene in 2014. The lanky right-hander, a former ninth-round Draft pick, came up from Triple-A Las Vegas to make his first start on May 15. He held the Yankees to one run over seven innings in that outing. deGrom, who turned 26 in June, never let up from there.
deGrom made 22 starts -- 17 of them quality starts -- posting a 2.69 ERA that led all Major League rookies who threw at least 100 innings. He struck out more than a batter per frame and produced a 3.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The rookie's abilities were on full display on Sept. 16, when he authored the performance that put him in the running for Regular-Season Moment honors. Facing the Marlins at Citi Field in his penultimate start of the season, deGrom struck out the first eight batters he faced to tie a modern-day MLB record set by the Astros' Jim Deshaies in 1986. He finished with a career-high 13 Ks over seven innings.
"That's about as dominating a start of a game as I've probably ever seen, and I've seen some pretty good pitching," Mets manager Terry Collins said afterward. "The location was just outstanding. You look at some of those called strikes, and they were right -- I mean, right -- on the corners. Unbelievable. He threw any pitch he wanted to, whenever he wanted to."
Neither Lagares nor Duda was a rookie in '14, but both took steps toward establishing themselves in the Mets' long-term plans.
Lagares, in his second season, once again distinguished himself with his defense -- combining ground-chewing range with a dangerous arm that opponents dared to test less often than in '13. Despite playing only 112 games and starting 105 in the outfield, he still finished second in defensive wins above replacement (3.4), according to baseballreference.com. Lagares also finished third in defensive runs saved (28) and fifth in ultimate zone rating (18.6), according to fangraphs.com
"There are a lot of good outfielders in this league, but Juan Lagares ranks right with anybody in this league defensively," Collins said late this season. "He's got a great arm."
Lagares showed off his skills during a May 17 game at Washington. Not only did he homer and drive in three runs, but he also took a run away from the Nationals with a Play of the Year nominee. When the Nats' Jayson Werth crushed a deep fly ball to center, Lagares chased it back to the wall, leaped just to the left of the 402-feet sign, reaching over and pulling the ball back for an out.
Duda got a chance to shine when the Mets traded fellow first baseman Ike Davis to the Pirates on April 18, and he took advantage of the full-time job. In nearly 600 plate appearances, the 28-year-old compiled a .253/.349/.481 slash line while blowing away his previous career highs with 30 home runs and 92 RBIs. Duda finished fourth among Major League first basemen in homers, seventh in slugging percentage and tied for seventh in RBIs.
"It's been fun to watch," third baseman David Wright said at season's end. "[Duda] finally got an opportunity to play, and the numbers speak for themselves. To hit 30 home runs here is a pretty tough feat. The production, he's solidified himself as a middle-of-the-lineup-type guy. I'm really, really happy for him to get to 30 and give him even more confidence going into next year."
Granderson treated some devoted Mets fans to a dramatic moment on April 20, with his club locked in a 3-3 tie against the Braves in the 14th inning. The veteran came to the plate with runners on second and third and one out, mired in an 0-for-16 slump that included 0-for-6 showing on the day to that point. This time, Granderson got the job done, lofting a fly ball to left-center field that brought home Kirk Nieuwenhuis to end a four-hour, 37-minute battle.
The stakes were high for a different reason when den Dekker squared off against Astros reliever Kevin Chapman in the sixth inning of a game at Citi Field on Sept. 26. The two are cousins, not to mention close friends and former college roommates at the University of Florida -- where they played until getting drafted one round apart in 2010. Several family members were in attendance for their first confrontation, which resulted in a walk.
But if that situation was odd, then one that took place at Citi Field on May 27 was plain absurd. Rapper 50 Cent was in the house that day to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mets took on the Pirates. Throwing left-handed, he uncorked a "pitch" that was barely in the same zip code as home plate -- sailing the ball wide of the left-handed side of the batter's box and nearly hitting a photographer stationed up the first-base line. It's no wonder the misfire is a contender for the GIBBY for the year's best Cut4 Topic.
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.