Cueto takes home MLB.com's GIBBY for Bounceback Player
By Mark Sheldon
CINCINNATI -- It's hard to believe now, after the 2014 season he had, but there were actually some questions back in the spring about whether Johnny Cueto would be durable enough to get through the year healthy for the Reds.
That's because Cueto was limited to only 11 starts in 2013 because of three separate stints on the disabled list with a strained right lat muscle. This season, all such issues were put in the past in stunning fashion, as the Cincinnati ace turned in one of the best seasons in franchise history. Perhaps that was why voters turned out to give Cueto MLB.com's Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award for Bounceback Player of the Year.
"I think overall that Johnny understands that he had a really great year," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said at the end of the season. "There is no short of great there. He really exceeded my expectations, especially being hurt the year before. He worked hard. Knowing him and the emotions he brings, he's going to do it day in and day out."
Major League Baseball's A-listers won 2014 GIBBY trophies based on votes by broadcasters, reporters, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year's GIBBY Awards featured winners in 25 categories. Individual honors went to the Most Valuable Major Leaguer, in addition to the year's best starting pitcher, everyday player, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout everyday player, breakout pitcher, bounceback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason MVP.
GIBBY trophies were also 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.
Cueto, 28, finished second behind the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for the National League Cy Young Award. He was 20-9 with 2.25 ERA, while finishing first in innings (243 2/3), starts (34) and tied for first in strikeouts (242). Along with Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, Cueto was tied for second in wins behind Kershaw, second in ERA and WHIP (0.96) and tied for third with four complete games. A first-time NL All-Star this season, Cueto was also the Major League leader with a .194 opponents' batting average.
A 19-game winner in 2012, Cueto was poised for another breakout season in '13 before he went on the DL for the first time in mid-April. He returned in May only to be injured again in early June and again in late June, missing 2 1/2 months.
This season, in a campaign in which the Reds struggled and missed the postseason, Cueto's contributions really stood out. The last time a Reds pitcher won 20 games was in 1988, when Danny Jackson accomplished the feat. Only Cueto and Jim Maloney (1963 and '65) have recorded at least 20 wins and 240 strikeouts in a season for the Reds since 1900. Cueto's ERA was the club's lowest since Gary Nolan (1.99) in 1972.
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 were represented among the award candidates, which was a testament to the competitive balance around the game.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.