Dodgers ace claims three trophies; Giants, Royals each honored with four
By Lyle Spencer
For the third time in five seasons, 2014 belonged to the San Francisco Giants, whose World Series crown matched those from '10 and '12. While this remarkable achievement is acknowledged in MLB.com's 13th annual GIBBYs -- the Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards -- the biggest individual winner is the ace of Los Angeles' National League West champions.
Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' brilliant southpaw, was named Major League Baseball's Most Valuable Major Leaguer and Starting Pitcher of the Year during Saturday night's presentations on MLB Network and MLB.com. He also earned Pitching Performance of the Year for his no-hitter.
Kershaw, who succeeded the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera as Most Valuable Major Leaguer, added the coveted GIBBY to his Baseball Writers' Association of America NL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards in the afterglow of a historic season. He was 21-3, led the Majors with his 1.77 ERA for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season, and authored a no-hitter against the Rockies that was an error away from perfection.
"I never expected to win [the NL MVP Award], never in a million years did I think I'd win the Cy Young and MVP," Kershaw said. "Awards aren't why we play the game, but I don't take it lightly. When fans chant that [MVP] stuff, it's an amazing feeling. I remember a few times pitching and fans at Dodger Stadium would chant, 'M-V-P' -- that's unbelievable. It really is chilling. I don't know if I'll ever get used to that."
Kershaw's selection as Most Valuable Major Leaguer was hotly contested. He drew 35 percent of the vote to edge Giants postseason hero Madison Bumgarner, who had 34 percent, and Angels superstar Mike Trout, who drew 31 percent.
Trout, the BBWAA's American League Most Valuable Player Award winner, claimed the GIBBY for Everyday Player of the Year, while Bumgarner was Postseason MVP. White Sox slugger Jose Abreu took home the Rookie of the Year Award. Closer of the Year was claimed by the Royals' Greg Holland. His teammate, Wade Davis, was chosen Setup Man of the Year.
Andrelton Simmons, the acrobatic Braves shortstop, snatched the Defensive Player of the Year Award. The Breakout Everyday Player was Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, and Corey Kluber of the Indians was the Breakout Pitcher of 2014. Reds ace Johnny Cueto was the Bounceback Player of the Year.
Masterminding another Giants championship run brought Bruce Bochy the Manager of the Year GIBBY. In recognition of the Royals' thrilling ride to the AL pennant, pushing the Giants to seven games in the Fall Classic, Kansas City's Dayton Moore was selected Executive of the Year.
The sport'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.
Ryan Spilborghs, former Rockies outfielder who now is an analyst on the team's games on Root Sports Rocky Mountain, gave Kershaw the nod.
"He went 18-1 from June on, while the rest of the team went 45-49," Spilborghs said. "No other player has that much impact on the success of his team. Plain and simple, if you have Troy Tulowitzki or Giancarlo Stanton or any position player in your lineup, you're not guaranteed a win. With Kershaw, you pretty much are."
Former Major League pitcher Jim Deshaies gave Bumgarner the edge.
"Bumgarner's postseason performance was clearly the difference maker," Deshaies said. "When one player puts a team on his shoulders the way he did, it deserves special recognition."
J.J. Putz, special assistant to D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall, alluded to Trout's overall impact in leading the AL in RBIs (111), runs scored (115) and total bases (338), while hitting 36 homers.
"I voted for Trout because, one, his numbers were insane, and two, he was on a playoff team," Putz said. "I think of all the candidates, if you take him off that team, they don't make the playoffs."
GIBBYs categories included players from both leagues and performances not only from the regular season but also through the end of the playoffs, making them unique in singling out the best of the best.
This year's GIBBY Awards featured winners in 25 categories. In the past several seasons, fans have cast millions of votes across the GIBBY categories, none of which was restricted to individual league affiliation. All 30 clubs were represented among the award candidates, a testament to the competitive balance around the game.
GIBBY trophies were awarded for the year's top regular-season play (Steve Souza Jr.), outfield throw (Yoenis Cespedes), memorable moment (Derek Jeter), storyline (instant-replay improvement), hitting performance (Lonnie Chisenhall), pitching performance (Kershaw), oddity (wild pitch scoring three Brewers), walk-off (Jeter), Cut4 Topic (generous fan), postseason walk-off (Travis Ishikawa) and postseason play (Joe Panik).
The postseason storyline of choice was orchestrated by the Royals, with their incredible Wild Card comeback triumph against the A's.
"Who can forget that tumultuous, 9-8 Wild Card Game victory," wrote Dick Kaegel on MLB.com, "achieved after the Royals were down four runs in the sixth inning and one run in the 12th? With an ear-shattering crowd going wild, Salvador Perez lashed a single down the third-base line for the walk-off win. It was on to Anaheim.
The Royals rode that momentum through the Angels and Orioles to an all-Wild Card World Series that was a true Fall Classic.
Giants teammates Ishikawa and Panik delivered the walk-off and defensive award winners of the postseason. Ishikawa's three-run, ninth-inning homer at AT&T Park against the Cardinals gave Game 5 and the NL Championship Series to the Giants.
With Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City tied in the third inning, rookie second baseman Panik robbed Eric Hosmer of a hit with a diving stop and a glove flip that led to a double play. Hosmer initially was ruled safe at first, but an instant-replay review confirmed that San Francisco had indeed turned two on Brandon Crawford's throw.
Souza's sprawling, dazzling catch preserved Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter for the Nationals against the Marlins on the final day of the regular season at Nationals Park. Cespedes, before his trade by the A's to the Red Sox, unleashed an awe-inspiring throw from the left-field corner at Angel Stadium for an out at the plate on June 10.
Jeter, going the other way for a walk-off RBI single against the Orioles in his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 25, was the clear choice for moment of the year and walk-off of the year. The emotions of teammates celebrating on the field with Jeter made it unforgettable.
Instant replay was the storyline of the year. With the goal of improving the game through the use of available technology, Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Players Association and the World Umpires Association, agreed to an expanded instant-replay system -- with all reviews conducted at the Replay Command Center at MLBAM headquarters in New York.
The Indians' Chisenhall put together one of the greatest single-game performances in history on June 9 in Texas, going deep three times in a 5-for-5, nine-RBI night. He became the first player in the past 100 years to record three homers, five hits and nine RBIs without making an out.
Kershaw delivered what some experts considered the most dominant pitching effort in history against Colorado at Dodger Stadium on June 18. He struck out 15 and allowed one baserunner, on an error, for his first career no-hitter.
The Brewers ran wild in capturing the Oddity of the Year Award on June 21 at Coors Field in Denver. Three men scored on a wild pitch by the Rockies' Christian Friedrich, a first in the Majors since June 2001, when a trio of Rangers scored on an A's wild pitch.
The Cut4 Topic of the Year was provided on Sept. 5 by a boy who showed off his benevolent side at Fenway Park, giving a foul ball to a girl sitting behind him. The random act of kindness, caught on camera, triggered an endearing in-game interview that captured the moment and captivated fandom.
Rookie of the Year: Jose Abreu, White Sox Bounceback Player of the Year: Johnny Cueto, Reds Play of the Year: Steven Souza Jr., Nationals Oddity of the Year: Wild pitch scores three Brewers Postseason Play: Joe Panik, Giants Postseason MVP: Madison Bumgarner, Giants Setup Man of the Year: Wade Davis, Royals Closer of the Year: Greg Holland, Royals Executive of the Year: Dayton Moore, Royals Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy, Giants Cut4 Topic of the Year: Boy gifts baseball, Red Sox fan Storyline of the Year: Instant improvement Starting Pitcher of the Year: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers Everyday Player of the Year: Mike Trout, Angels Breakout Pitcher of the Year: Corey Kluber, Indians Breakout Everyday Player of the Year: Jose Altuve, Astros Defensive Player of the Year: Andrelton Simmons, Braves Outfield Throw of the Year: Yoenis Cespedes, A's/Red Sox Hitting Performance of the Year: Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians Pitching Performance of the Year: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers Postseason Walk-Off: Travis Ishikawa, Giants Postseason Storyline: Wild win sparks Royals' run Walk-Off of the Year: Derek Jeter, Yankees Moment of the Year: Derek Jeter, Yankees Most Valuable Major Leaguer: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Lyle Spencer is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.