October heroes up for Postseason MVP GIBBY Award
The postseason is a time when great players can become legendary. There were a number of players this year who took that step, which will make the voting for MLB.com's Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award for Postseason MVP rather interesting.
Giants ace Madison Bumgarner put his stamp on October with a dominant postseason performance. So, too, did San Francisco sluggers Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence. The Royals became America's darlings with an unpredictable run to the World Series, led by Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Greg Holland.
All six players deserve recognition for their memorable postseason performances, but only one can win the GIBBY. Here's a closer look at the nominees:
• Bumgarner had a postseason for the ages. It began with a shutout of the Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game and ended with a save on short rest to wrap up the Giants' third World Series title in the past five seasons. Along the way, Bumgarner dominated to the tune of a 4-1 record, 1.03 ERA, 0.65 WHIP and 45 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings. In the Fall Classic, the lefty went 2-0 with a 0.43 ERA, including a shutout in Game 5. Simply put, the game was under Bumgarner's control whenever he stepped on the mound.
• Pence was about as consistent as they come in October. In addition to his usual solid defense in right field, Pence provided a productive bat and hit .333 with eight RBIs, 12 runs scored and an .875 OPS. He reached base in every game, extending his postseason streak to 20 straight games dating back to 2012. Perhaps most importantly, Pence was a clubhouse leader who helped the Giants go from the second NL Wild Card team to the last club standing.
• Sandoval did what he does every postseason -- make clutch plays with both his glove and with his bat. The third baseman set a postseason record with 26 hits, further cementing his status as one of October's greatest performers in recent years. Sandoval also led all players with a .366 average and tied for second with 12 runs scored. The Panda was a key component of the Giants' World Series titles in 2010 and '12, and his performance this year might have been his best yet.
• The 2014 postseason was a coming-out party for Cain. The Royals outfielder seemed to catch every ball hit his way, amassing a number of highlight-reel plays over four weeks. He also anchored the Royals' lineup as the No. 3 hitter, batting .333 and scoring 13 runs -- the most by any player in the postseason. Cain's speed was a game-changing factor on defense, and he also used his legs to steal two bases despite constant attention from opposing pitchers and catchers. Cain was not considered a big-name talent going into the postseason, but he emerged as a household name, and rightfully so.
• Holland made an already scary Royals bullpen even filthier. He tied the all-time postseason record with seven saves and did it in dominant fashion, posting a 0.82 ERA and limiting opponents to a .105 average. When Kansas City got the ball to Holland with a lead, everyone pretty much knew the game was over. He was at the top of his game in his three appearances in the World Series, striking out five over three scoreless innings with just one hit allowed.
• Hosmer flipped the switch in the postseason, and the Royals couldn't have asked for a better time for their first baseman to find his power stroke. He absolutely crushed the ball throughout the playoffs, hitting .351 with two home runs, three doubles, 12 RBIs and a .983 OPS. Hosmer's RBI total and .439 on-base percentage ranked first among players with at least 40 plate appearances in the postseason.
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 Play, Outfield Throw, Storyline, Hitting Performance, Pitching Performance, Oddity, Walk-Off, Cut4 Topic, Regular-Season Moment and Postseason Moment, with video available via MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
Over the past several seasons, fans have cast millions of votes across the GIBBY categories -- none of which are 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. In fact, every team will have multiple nominees to begin voting -- a testament to the parity of talent around the game.