There are no special caveats when it comes to voting on this season's GIBBY Award for Hitter of the Year.
There is no arguing over the word "value." There is no attempt to factor in defensive metrics or speed. There is only one question: Who was the best hitter in Major League Baseball during the 2013 season? And the choice is yours.
As simple as that question is, however, the answer isn't quite so obvious. Reigning winner Miguel Cabrera certainly seems to be a favorite, but Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Davis and Andrew McCutchen all have compelling cases.
And they aren't the only ones who could challenge Cabrera. In total, 13 hitters -- with 10 Silver Slugger Awards between them -- are among the candidates for this season's Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award for baseball's best hitter.
Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 2013 GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans and the Society for American Baseball Research.
Along with Cabrera, Trout, Goldschmidt, Davis and McCutchen, Robinson Cano, Adam Jones, Edwin Encarnacion, David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre, Joey Votto, Matt Carpenter and Michael Cuddyer are candidates in the Hitter of the Year category.
This year's GIBBY Awards feature nominees in 22 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, comeback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason performer.
GIBBYs also will be awarded for the year's top play, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, Cut4 topic, regular-season moment and postseason moment, from MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
In the past five years, fans have cast more than 50 million votes across the various GIBBY categories, none of which were restricted to individual league affiliation. Fan voting runs through Dec. 1.
Winners will be presented their GIBBYs at the MLB.com Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards extravaganza during the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
There is no denying Cabrera's incredible offensive season, which by some metrics was better than his Triple Crown-winning campaign of 2012. Cabrera posted a better batting average (.348), on-base percentage (.442) and slugging percentage (.636) than a year ago. He also equaled his home run total (44) and came two RBIs shy of last year with 137.
And Cabrera would have won a second straight Triple Crown, too, if it weren't for the remarkable season of fellow GIBBY candidate Davis. The Orioles' first baseman came from relative obscurity to lead the American League in home runs and RBIs.
"No, I couldn't have [imagined this season's numbers]," Davis said earlier this month. "I've said that before. I think growing up, even in the Minor Leagues when you start to get a sense of what player you are going to be and what you are capable of, I always thought 40 was a big number. Never dreamed of hitting 50 home runs, much less breaking the [Orioles'] single-season record."
Trout had his typical brilliant offensive campaign as well, hitting .323 with a .988 OPS. Despite his lightning speed, Trout managed to lead the AL in walks with 110, and he scored 109 times -- also the best in the Junior Circuit.
Asked what he was most proud of this year, Trout said: "The runs -- scoring a lot of runs for the team. And the walks. I like walks. It makes me feel like I have more discipline this year, not swinging if I don't get my pitch."
The National League has its share of deserving candidates as well. Both Pittsburgh's McCutchen and Arizona's Goldschmidt are among the finalists for the NL MVP Award. McCutchen hit .317 with a .911 OPS, while Goldschmidt led the league in home runs (36), RBIs (125) and slugging percentage (.551).
"He wants to be a world champion, but he also wants to be the best at everything he does," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of Goldschmidt last week. "We've had the opportunity to watch him work and develop, and reap the results of his belief and his willingness."
As usual, the AL East is loaded with big-time bats. The one knock on Cano's game has been his ability to get on base. Well, in 2013, he posted a career-high .383 OBP, while hitting .314 with 27 homers and 107 RBIs.
Jones may have had his offensive talents overshadowed a bit by Davis, but he slugged .493 with 33 homers and 108 RBIs. Encarnacion, meanwhile, carried Toronto offensively, leading the team with his 36 homers, 104 RBIs, .370 OBP and .534 slugging percentage.
And then there's Ortiz, whose incredible regular season has been lost in the shuffle thanks to his historic postseason. Ortiz hit over .300 (.309) for the third consecutive season, and he added 30 homers and 103 RBIs, marking the seventh 30-100 season of his career. Then, of course, Ortiz terrorized St. Louis pitching in the Fall Classic, hitting .688 with a pair of homers.
Speaking of St. Louis, Carpenter burst onto the scene this season as arguably baseball's top leadoff man. He led the Majors in runs with 126, and pounded out 55 doubles. Carpenter tied Beltre atop the Majors with 199 hits. Beltre had another superb offensive year, hitting .315 with 30 homers.
Cuddyer, meanwhile, took home the first batting crown of his career, hitting .331. Votto, meanwhile, led the league in on-base percentage and walks -- nothing new, after all, as he's done so in each of the past three seasons.
The criteria is simple: Who was the best hitter in 2013? The choice -- your choice -- among 13 candidates as talented as these, is most certainly not.