MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

After 'Bounceback' year, Cueto receives GIBBY

After 'Bounceback' year, Cueto receives GIBBY

CINCINNATI -- If pitching and defense truly are the two most important components in baseball, it's no wonder Johnny Cueto is so valued by his team.

Cueto was lauded twice before Wednesday's game between the Pirates and Reds at Great American Ball Park, for his defense and his pitching, both of which were among the best in the league in 2014. In a pregame ceremony during a two-hour, 35-minute rain delay, Cueto received a GIBBY Award for being voted the Bounceback Player of the Year and the 2014 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award for pitchers.

The GIBBY, which stands for Greatness in Baseball Yearly Award, is an MLB.com honor that reflects votes from fans, broadcasters, reporters, front-office members, MLB alumni and members of the Society of Baseball Research. Cueto won the GIBBY after leading the NL with 243 2/3 innings in 2014, becoming the first Reds right-hander since 1965 to win 20 games while recording baseball's fourth-lowest ERA at 2.25.

The "Bounceback" description is self-explanatory. Cueto put together this stellar season after struggling through an injury-riddled 2013, during which he spent three separate stints on the disabled list with shoulder problems.

Cueto made just 11 starts but still was effective when he did pitch, compiling a 5-2 record and a 2.82 ERA over 60 2/3 innings.

He didn't miss a minute of 2014. Cueto led the NL with 34 starts and 242 strikeouts, and he finished second in the NL Cy Young Award voting, behind the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.

"His successes coincide with his growth as a pitcher," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Early in his career, he had some fairly recurring issues with his shoulder, while 2012 was really what you'd have to consider his breakout year with 19 wins and was one of the better starters in the National League.

"He's just a great pitcher. He's maturing, and health is certainly going to be an essential part of having a great season."

The accolades for Cueto extended beyond Wednesday's salute. Last offseason, Cueto received the Johnny Vander Meer Award as the Reds' Most Outstanding Pitcher in voting of the local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and he was also given the Ernie Lombardi Award as the club's Most Valuable Player. He was the first Reds pitcher to be named Most Outstanding Pitcher and Most Valuable Player in the same season since Danny Graves did so in 2000.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.