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GIBBY for MLB MVP sparks toughest awards debate yet

GIBBY for MLB MVP sparks toughest awards debate yet

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GIBBY for MLB MVP sparks toughest awards debate yet

Even after the MVP Awards were handed out on Thursday night, the debates raged on: Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout? Paul Goldschmidt or Andrew McCutchen? And what about the phenomenal seasons of Clayton Kershaw, Matt Carpenter and Chris Davis?

But the most intriguing question may be one that combines all of those elements: Who was the most valuable player in all of Major League Baseball this year?

And that choice is yours. All seven of the aforementioned players are up for the Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award for MLB MVP. Unlike the awards handed out by the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- which went to Cabrera and McCutchen -- there's only room for one winner across both leagues.

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 at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.

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.

GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's top play, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, 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 was restricted to individual League affiliation. Fan voting runs through Dec. 1.

Winners will be presented their GIBBY trophies at the MLB.com Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards extravaganza during the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Cabrera, the reigning MLB MVP winner, certainly has a solid case to repeat. No, he didn't win the Triple Crown as he did in 2012, but the numbers indicate that he had a better season in '13.

Cabrera's .348 batting average, .442 on-base percentage and .636 slugging percentage all led the Majors and were superior to his 2012 totals. Not to mention that Cabrera spent the second half of the season bothered by a sore back, an abdominal injury and a groin injury that required surgery at season's end.

"The last couple months, it was tough to play through that," Cabrera said, "But it was my job to play with that injury, because there was nothing I could do. Putting me on the 15-day disabled list, it was not going to help."

But while Cabrera's stats were trailing off at the end of the season, Trout was putting a cap on one of the best seasons by a 21-year-old in history. He hit .323 with a .988 OPS, swiped 33 bags and led the league in walks (110) and runs (109) -- not to mention his steady glovework at a premium position.

Even Cabrera was hard-pressed to deny Trout's dominance in every phase of the game, calling the youngster "the best player in the league" on a conference call Thursday.

"He's got everything," Cabrera added. "Being in the same race with that guy, at that age, it's unbelievable."

Still, it wasn't Trout who prevented Cabrera from taking home his second straight Triple Crown. It was Davis, who came from relative obscurity to lead the AL in home runs and RBIs, with 53 and 138, respectively.

Davis set the Orioles' single-season home run record and finished second to Cabrera in OPS and slugging.

Davis, however, might not even hold the title for MVP at his own position. Goldschmidt put up ridiculous numbers with the D-backs, leading the National League in home runs (36), RBIs (125) and slugging (.551). He also took home his first Gold Glove Award.

But it was McCutchen beating out Goldschmidt for the NL MVP Award in Thursday's announcement. The Pirates center fielder hit .317 with 21 homers, all while playing a pivotal leadership role for a club that snapped a streak of 21 seasons without making the playoffs -- and, oh yeah, he dazzled defensively, too.

"To see the change in the team and in me personally, it definitely means a lot to me," McCutchen said. "It means all the effort put forth and all the sacrifices made are starting to pay off."

Ultimately, Carpenter's Cardinals ended the Pirates' playoff run, and Carpenter himself was a major part of St. Louis' success, leading the Majors in runs (126), hits (199) and doubles (55). Carpenter became arguably the league's most effective leadoff man, all while making the smooth transition to everyday second baseman.

And then there's Kershaw, whose dominance was never in question during the 2013 season. He became the first player to lead the Majors in ERA in three consecutive seasons since Greg Maddux did so in the mid-1990s. Kershaw also led the NL with a 0.92 WHIP and 232 strikeouts. All that success culminated in his becoming just the 13th player to win two Cy Young Awards in three seasons.

But the debate continues to rage on as to the "value" of a pitcher vs. an everyday contributor. So, too, does the debate as to the value of defense and baserunning against pure hitting. And just how much does it matter whether a candidate is playing for a contender?

They're all timeless baseball questions and pivotal ones in determining the MLB MVP in 2013.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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