About a week ago, MLB Network announced its 2010 GIBBY Awards to recognize the year’s best players, moments and games. The Yankees were shutout, but it’s easy enough to look back and choose a Yankees winner for each category.
Player of the Year
Gibby: Josh Hamilton
Yankees: Robinson Cano
Easy decision. I guess I could try to surprise you with some other pick — or try to drive people crazy by raving about Alex Rodriguez’s RBI total — but I’ll stick with with the obvious.
Starter of the Year
Gibby: Roy Halladay
Yankees: CC Sabathia
Again, pretty easy choice. Phil Hughes impressed in his first full season as a big league starter, and Andy Pettitte made a strong case for starting the all-star game, but Sabathia began the year as the Yankees ace, and it ended it that way too.
Gibby: Carlos Gonzalez
Yankees: Brett Gardner
I thought about Hughes in this spot, but he was so good out of the bullpen last year, you could make the case that 2010 was simply the next logical step. He had a great year, but I think Gardner is the one who really broke onto the scene from the deep shadows.
Gibby: Ichiro Suzuki
Yankees: Robinson Cano
Sabathia finished fourth in the GIBBY voting, and obviously Mariano Rivera fits here, but I like Cano in this spot. He played nearly every game, never went through an extended slump, and — according to Baseball Reference — he hit .354/.406/.522 in high leverage situations.
Gibby: Joaquin Benoit
Yankees: Kerry Wood
I think you could make a strong case for Dave Robertson — he was actually with the team the entire year, had a terrific second half — but clearly it was Wood who brought the bullpen together and made it a complete unit down the stretch.
Gibby: Elvis Andrus
Yankees: Brett Gardner
I think you could go three ways with this one: Cano was outstanding and Mark Teixeira was great — regardless of his advanced metrics — but I’ll go with Gardner. He had a big left field to cover at Yankee Stadium, and he did more than flash his obvious range. Gardner also showed that an accurate arm and quick release can make a difference, and he was a more-than-capable fill-in when Curtis Granderson couldn’t play center.
Executive of the Year
Gibby: Brian Sabean
Yankees: Mark Newman
This award doesn’t really work within a single organization, but I’ll give Newman credit for the Yankees terrific success in the minor league system this year.
Manager of the Year
Gibby: Bruce Bochy
Yankees: Joe Girardi
Again, this one doesn’t really work within the Yankees system. It’s hard to compare what a Major League manager does against what a minor league manager does. I’m amazed at the work Dave Miley and his staff have done to keep Scranton/Wilkes-Barre consistently winning in Triple-A, but I’ll give Girardi credit, if only because I think he took more heat than he deserved. His moves were wildly unpopular, but he had a team that was falling apart in September, and he got them healthy in time for October. It’s impossible to manage a team that simply stops hitting at the wrong time, and in the end, that was the Yankees problem.
Rookie of the Year
Gibby: Buster Posey
Yankees: Ivan Nova
I’m pretty sure Francisco Cervelli burned his rookie status in 2009 — more than 45 days on the active roster — which leaves only a few candidates on the Yankees roster. Of the young guys who came up from Triple-A, Nova gave the Yankees the most significant and most lasting boost.
Gibby: Tim Lincecum
Yankees: Curtis Granderson
I also like Rivera for this one, and Pettitte would be a solid choice, but I’ll go with Granderson and his .357/.514/.607 slash line in the playoffs.
Close of the Year
Gibby: Brian Wilson
Yankees: Mariano Rivera
You were expecting Jonathan Albaladejo?
Gibby: Carlos Ruiz
Yankees: Marcus Thames
Specifically, it was Thames’ ability to hit right-handed pitching that was an x-factor for the Yankees. The Yankees brought him in expecting a platoon player, but when Nick Johnson landed on the disabled list and Randy Winn was shipped out of town, Thames became the Yankees top bench option and primary designated hitter. His .549 slugging percentage against righties made him a viable everyday option when necessary.
Oddity of the Year
Gibby: Roy Oswalt in left field
Yankees: Marcus Thames at third base
Maybe Juan Miranda’s walk-off walk? Chad Gaudin being cut in spring training and still pitching in 30 games? Chan Ho Park’s unexpected postgame interview in Boston? Derek Jeter’s fake hit by pitch? For absolute oddity, I like Thames’ spending one inning at third base, making a nice backhand play and then making perhaps the worst throw in the history of the game. The fact the game was already over made it OK for everyone, including Thames, to laugh at the play. Jeter’s phantom HBP got more press, but that’s just because it was Jeter. I’m not sure it was actually all that unusual.
Play of the Year
Gibby: Mark Buehrle’s between-the-legs flip
Yankees: Greg Golson’s throw from right field
Cervelli went tumbling into the dugout and Gardner made more than one leaping catch in the outfield, but I can’t look past Golson’s throw to nab Carl Crawford trying to go second-to-third in the ninth inning. It was a game-ending play, by an unexpected player, in the middle of a hot pennant race. One of the best moments of the year.
Moment of the Year
Gibby: Dallas Braden’s Mother’s Day
Yankees: Winning in memory of The Boss
It was inevitable that the first game after George Steinbrenner’s death would be emotional, but it would have been difficult to predict a late-inning rally and ninth-inning walk-off. The Boss would have been proud.
Gibby: That guy who let the foul ball hit his girl friend
Yankees: Nick Swisher being elected to the all-star game
I know the GIBBY awards were looking for something more off-the-wall than my choice, but Yankees fans made a big push to get Swisher elected, and it worked. Girardi knew what he was doing when he picked his right fielder for the final vote ballot.
Performance of the Year
Gibby: Armando Galarraga
Yankees: Alex Rodriguez
Choose one: Rodriguez hitting the 600th home run of his career, or Rodriguez going deep three times during a game in Kansas City. Since this is really all about a single performance, I’ll go with the three-homer game, which played no small part in A-Rod getting back to 30 homers for the year.
Game of the Year
Gibby: Strasburg’s debut
Yankees: Comeback in Los Angeles
The GIBBY award voting had the Sabathia-Price duel ranked fifth, but the first game that jumped to my mind was the Yankees comeback against the Dodgers at the end of an interleague series in L.A. The Yankees had to rally against Jonathan Broxton, Mariano Rivera pitched two scoreless innings to get the win and close it out, and both Chad Huffman and Colin Curtis played significant roles. Can’t say I disagree with Sabathia vs. Price — that was epic — but the Dodgers game jumped to my mind.
Postseason moment of the Year
Gibby: Halladay’s no-hitter
Yankees: Game 1 of the ALCS
Granted, it was all downhill from there, but when the Yankees opened the ALCS with a five-run rally in the eighth inning, it really seemed to set the stage for something special. Guess not.
Associated Press photos