Ten stars vying for Hitter of the Year GIBBY Award
Great offensive players don't all pop out of the same mold or roll off the same assembly line. That much is clear from the 10 diverse nominees vying for MLB.com's 2014 Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award for Hitter of the Year.
The candidates include 6-foot-6 home-run-mashing Giancarlo Stanton and 5-foot-6 batting champion Jose Altuve; rookie sensation Jose Abreu and 12-year veteran Victor Martinez; breakout performer Michael Brantley and bounceback artist Nelson Cruz; instant success story Mike Trout and late bloomer Jose Bautista; steady catcher Buster Posey and electrifying center fielder Andrew McCutchen.
Whoever comes out on top will take the Hitter of the Year GIBBY for the first time, after Miguel Cabrera snagged the trophy the previous two seasons.
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 23 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.
In the past several seasons, fans have cast millions of votes across the GIBBY categories, none of which was 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 has multiple nominees in 2014 -- a testament to the disbursement of talent around the game.
Each Hitter of the Year nominee offers strong statistical credentials:
• Stanton played his final game on Sept. 11, the result of an errant fastball to the face, and he spends half of his time at cavernous Marlins Park. Despite those obstacles, he still tied for second in the Majors with 37 home runs and sixth with 105 RBIs, while finishing fourth in slugging percentage (.555) and OPS (.950).
• Though not a big power threat, Altuve collected two hits on Opening Day and essentially never stopped on his way to a stunning total of 225 -- 25 more than any other player. The Astros second baseman also led the Majors with a .341 average, tied for second with 56 stolen bases and finished third with 47 doubles.
• Abreu defected from Cuba and signed a six-year, $68 million deal with the White Sox late last October. The 27-year-old then went out and made that look like a tremendous bargain. In his debut season, Abreu led the Majors with a .581 slugging percentage, while finishing second in OPS, in a tie for fourth in homers (36), fifth in RBIs (107) and sixth in batting average (.317).
• Martinez, the oldest of this group at 35, went from missing 2012 with a knee injury to achieving a modest comeback in '13 (.785 OPS, 14 homers), to putting together a career year for the Tigers. He reached 30 homers for the first time, slamming 32, while leading the Majors with a .974 OPS, thanks to his second-place standing in average (.335), OBP (.409) and slugging (.565). He did all that while striking out 42 times, fewest among qualified hitters.
• Brantley took an enormous step forward for the Indians in his age-27 season, posting career highs in nearly every significant offensive category. He finished second in hits (200), third in average (.327), fourth in doubles (45) and 10th in OPS (.890), collecting 20 homers and 23 steals to make him one of five players with a 20-20 season. Brantley also came in fifth in walk-to-strikeout ratio (0.93).
• After serving a 50-game suspension to finish last season, Cruz signed for a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles in late February. Then he went out and helped slug Baltimore to an AL East title, leading the Majors with 40 homers while finishing fourth with 108 RBIs.
• Trout could be in line for his first American League Most Valuable Player Award after finishing as the AL's runner-up for the past two years. Still in just his age-22 season, the Angels star posted the Majors' third-best slugging percentage (.561) and fifth-best OPS (.939) while finishing second in RBIs (111) and tying for fourth in homers (36). He led all players with 338 total bases and 115 runs, and for good measure stole 16 bases in 18 tries.
• Once a journeyman, Bautista put everything together in 2010, and in '14, he earned his fifth straight All-Star selection. Exhibiting his usual patience and strong batting eye, Bautista drew 104 walks to finish second in the Majors, bolstering a .403 OBP that was third-best. He placed sixth in OPS (.928), tied for sixth in homers (35) and tied for ninth in RBIs (103).
• Playing the most demanding position on the field, Posey hit .311/.364/.490, leading all catchers in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. Instead of wearing down in the second half, he turned it up, leading all Major Leaguers with a .354 average and finishing second with a .978 OPS.
• McCutchen enjoyed an even stronger season at the plate than in 2013, when he took National League MVP honors. The Pirates center fielder topped the Majors with a .410 OBP and came in third with a .952 OPS, while smacking 25 home runs and stealing 18 bases in 21 tries.
McCutchen also came out on top in FanGraphs' weighted runs created plus (wRC+), an objective measure of overall production at the plate that adjusts for ballpark. This year's top seven in wRC+ -- which has a league average of 100 -- all are Hitter of the Year nominees. McCutchen led the way at 168, followed closely by Trout (167), Martinez (166), Abreu (165), Stanton (159), Bautista (159) and Brantley (155).
Fans can vote as many times as they want through Nov. 21. Winners will be announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com on Dec. 6.