Aviles, Brantley earn BBWAA Awards
Utility man takes home Steve Olin-Frank Gibbons Good Guy Award; left fielder named Bob Feller Man of the Year
CLEVELAND -- The Indians may not have reached the postseason, but the team was still a part of one of baseball's best stories this past season. Cleveland's players and the city rallied around veteran utility man Mike Aviles and his family during their young daughter's battle with leukemia.
Through what was an emotionally draining season, Aviles remained steadfast in his committment to his team while also being there for his family. His attitude and approach under the circumstances did not go unnoticed by the Cleveland chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, which rewarded Aviles with the 2015 Steve Olin-Frank Gibbons Good Guy Award.
Outfielder Michael Brantley received the Bob Feller Man of the Year Award, honoring him as the Indians' best player from this past season.
"I know it is something for me personally that will be with me for my life," said Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, referring to how the team responded to Aviles' situation this year. "I was really proud, though not surprised, by the way the organization kind of rallied around Mike and supported him."
Aviles' daughter Adriana was diagnosed with leukemia in early May, and the Cleveland infielder was forced to leave the team a few times throughout the season. As the summer progressed, Aviles' teammates began shaving their heads in support of Adriana, and members of Cleveland's coaching staff and front office followed suit. In June, Aviles shaved the head of team owner Paul Dolan.
"We've seen how the team has stepped up for Mike and his family and what they're going through," Dolan said at the time. "I'm really proud of that, as proud as winning games. How [the players] conduct themselves is important. It's my way of joining the team and supporting Mike and really supporting what the guys have done for Mike."
Before the Indians' game against the Yankees on Aug. 13, Adriana and her twin sister, Maiya, threw out ceremonial first pitches at Progressive Field.
Other candidates for the Good Guy Award this year were closer Cody Allen, second baseman Jason Kipnis, manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway. Candidates for the Man of the Year Award were Brantley, Kipnis, rookie shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco.
Brantley took home the honor for a strong season that was more impressive than the numbers due to how he stayed on the field through a variety of health woes. In 137 games, marking his fewest in a season since 2011, Brantley hit .310/.379/.480 with 15 home runs, 45 doubles, 84 RBIs, 15 steals and more walks (60) than strikeouts (51).
Brantley joined Roberto Alomar as the only players in Indians history to have two seasons with at least 15 homers, 15 steals, 40 doubles and 150 hits. The Indians' left fielder also hit those marks in 2014, when he became the first player in team history to have at least 20 homers, 20 steals, 40 doubles and 200 hits in a single campaign.