1) Cardinal Position Player of the Year – Yadier Molina
This one was a ton closer than I had expected at the beginning of the year. Matt Carpenter had a fantastic year. He led the league and the MLB in a ton of offensive categories: hits, doubles, runs scored, and multi-hit games to start. He made a new record for doubles by a left-handed hitter. He made a new record for hits at Busch Stadium III. That made it a much closer decision, but Molina was definitely the best position player on the team. On the offensive side, he had new career highs for batting average, doubles, and runs. Not only that, but the work that he does with the pitching staff. This was evident all year long. There was a video that came out after Wacha lost the no-hitter in the 9th against the Nationals where Yadi was devastated that it was lost. When Wacha was being taken out of World Series game 6, he was able to pull him in before he left the mound. It was a nice genuine moment showing what he means to the staff and especially to those rookies. The rookies on the staff had 36 of the 97 wins on the season. That is all about Yadi, his leadership, his ability to call a game, and his defensive skills as much as it’s about anything else.
2) Cardinal Pitcher of the Year – Adam Wainwright
This one might have been the hardest of all the categories for me to pick. Mujica was surprisingly good this year. He came out of nowhere to lock down the 9th inning for 5 months of the season. If it wasn’t for the last month of it, Mujica might have won this in my mind. Rosenthal was phenomenal this year. He had the ability to shut down almost every lineup imaginable. He pitched in 74 games in the regular season. That’s nearly half of the games the Cardinals played in. That was the 10th most appearances in the NL this year. The only Cardinal who had more was Axford with 75, but alot of those weren’t with the Cardinals. He was electric from the mound, too. Lighting up the radar guns, and getting 108 strikeouts in those 74 games. That’s simply amazing. But in the end, my vote went to Wainwright. With all the rookies in the rotation and Carpenter not being able to go at all, Wainwright stepped into the role of ace and well, he aced it. He led the National League in wins with 19. The only pitcher in either league to do better was Max Scherzer with the Tigers. His strikeout to walk ratio was 6.26, only bested by Cliff Lee. He was a workhorse, too. He led the MLB with 5 complete games and 241.2 innings pitched. That’s one heck of a season, and that’s why he got my vote.
3) Game of the Year – May 10 vs. Colorado
I’ll start by saying that the 3rd best game in my opinion was the one where Adams hit solo shots in the 14th and 16th innings in Cincinnati. Great power from a player that has good potential. But deciding between the second best and the best for me was like splitting hairs. You have September 24th vs. the Nationals where Wacha has a no-hitter going to 8 and 2/3 innings, and then you have the game on May 10th where Miller was lights out. Both games, there was only 1 hit by the opponent. On May 10th it was with 0 outs in the 1st. On Sep. 24th, it was with 2 outs in the 9th, the exact opposite. Here are the only differences in the game that I could find. Miller struck out 13 Rockies to record 27 straight outs after that leadoff hit. Wacha struck out 9, but walked 2. Because of that, 30 Nationals came to the plate, but only 28 Rockies came to the plate. That was the difference for me. 4 more strikeouts and 2 less walks. That’s it. That’s how close those games were. And that’s how close my vote was. Having the no-hitter for 8 and 2/3 is impressive. Allowing a leadoff hit and then not giving up another baserunner for the rest of the game is pretty impressive, too.
4) Surprise Player of the Year – Matt Carpenter
This was a hard category for me to pick a little bit because of the category’s title. Kelly didn’t surprise me at all, because I thought that in the games I saw him in last year, he looked really good. I thought he had the ability to start games and be good, so his run in the second half didn’t surprise me at all. Mujica did surprise me alot. I didn’t think he had the stuff to close out games, and he did, but then he surprised me again and started going backwards in September. Siegrist was a huge surprise. He came basically out of nowhere for me. It’s partially my own fault because I don’t follow the Cardinals minor league teams as much as I probably should, but he was dominant. He could get out lefties, he could get out righties. He was awesome. But, in the end, I had to give this to Matt Carpenter. I liked him a ton in the bits and pieces I got to see him in games last year, but I was completely surprised by how good he was this year. I thought he could be an above average player, but I didn’t think he would do as good as he did. I was surprised by his defense and how well he adapted to playing 2nd on an everyday basis. I was surprised that he led the MLB and the NL in so many offensive categories. I thought he would be good. I didn’t know he would have such a great year, even getting a silver slugger award.
5) Disappointing Player of the Year – David Freese
This one is another category that makes it a little hard to quantify. Salas didn’t disappoint me this year. I saw that he was going downhill last year, and he disappointed me then. Pete Kozma, I didn’t expect to see much of this year until Furcal went down, and then I didn’t really know what to expect from him. Having only seen a small sample size, I thought he might be an average player, but he did disappoint me a little. Unfortunately, David Freese disappointed me alot. In the last 3 years, I’ve come to expect that he’d hit a good .290. He hit .262 this season. His power was improving each of the last 3 years, getting 10 and 20 HR the last two years, but this year, only back to 9. His defense wasn’t perfect. Don’t get me wrong, he was still in the middle of the pack when it comes to pretty much every category. I think that’s what is so hard to quantify this category. He disappointed me because of his dip in production, but compared to the rest of the league, he was an average player.
6)Rookie of the Year – Michael Wacha
This one was a tight race to me. Miller had been there all year, and put together a solid season. He was 3rd in the NL Rookie of the year voting, but I think that Wacha would have been there if he hadn’t have only pitched the last couple of months. I also thought about Adams, as he had a good year. He had comparable numbers to the AL Rookie of the Year, but I think that shows a little of how weak the candidates were in the AL as much as it shows how good Adams was in limited-ish time. Wacha was simply fantastic, though. Before the World Series game 6, he had an ERA of 1.00 in 27 postseason innings. This was after throwing 8 and 2/3 no hit innings to end his regular season. If he would have had a full year, then he might have been in the NL Rookie of the Year conversation.
7)Acquisition of the Year – Randy Choate
John Asford was good in the time that we were able to see him, but Choate was good all year long. If you looked at his season, it was pretty darn good. He pitched 35.1 innings in 64 appearances in the regular season, doing that with an ERA of 2.29 ERA, filling a hole that the Cardinals had in the bullpen: someone who could go against lefties. In the Postseason, he pitched in 9 games for 3.1 innings, and did it by only giving up 1 hit. I’d say that’s a pretty good acquisition.
8)Most Anticipated Cardinal – Oscar Taveras
I have said this before, and I will say it again: I’m not very good at following the Cardinals farm system. I picked Taveras for this because I think he will have an impact, and do so pretty quickly. With Beltran declining the qualifying offer, and asking for a 3-4 year deal, I’m confident he won’t be coming back to St. Louis. I would like the Cardinals to put Craig in right and start Adams, but at this point, I’m not sure if they have Adams or if they trade him for a SS. I think that at this point, Taveras will either be starting in RF next year or he will be competing for the CF spot, so I pick him because I think he’ll be on the team next year for sure (barring any setbacks on his ankle). I’ve heard that Piscotty is ready, and he may have a chance in Spring Training. It’ll be interesting to see him, but his numbers look good. It’ll be interesting if he can make the jump from AA to the MLB. Might have to stop off in Memphis first.
9)Best Individual Cardinal Blog – C70 At the Bat
C70 is the Godfather. He is the man. I don’t remember how I got turned onto his posts, but I remember that when I did was when I decided I would want to get in on this myself. He always brings creativity to his posts and he is a much smarter person than I am. I have eaten crow a few times on the Bonfyres because of me going against him and him being right. I always look to see who is the hero/goat, and I am always making sure to read his posts and see not only what he thought of each game, but also what he expects from the next game. It’s been awesome to read his posts.
10)Best Team Cardinal Blog – Aaron Miles’ Fastball
These might be my favorite Cardinal ladies of all time. They always have nice posts, and it’s interesting to get the female perspective on things sometimes. Christine and Tara always have good insights, and sometimes I think their posts just look better. They always have nice pictures and things to make the aesthetics look cooler. Sometimes, when seeing their posts, I feel like I’m just a crazy dude typing over in the corner by the light of my computer screen and they are the sophisticated aristocrats who drink tea in little cups with their pinkies held out. They are a delight to read, and I enjoy it every time.
11)Best Media Coverage – Derrick Goold
He’s actually the only one that I follow on Twitter, but he always has good insights into the every day things of the Cardinals, and I like his articles, too. I have to admit that Jennifer Langosh is the one I read most often, and that is because I go to the Cardinals site for most of my news and that is where I find her work most often. I like Derrick Goold’s Twitter presence more and I like him in those small bite-size pieces. That’s why I went with him here.
12)Best Rookie Blog – stlcupofJoe’s Sports Page
Joe always has great insights into pitchers, and they are one of the key aspects of the game of baseball. Good pitching trumps good hitting, and Joe is one of the best at breaking down pitchers. In fact, there have been times when I thought I saw something and asked him about it on a Bonfyre or on Twitter. In fact, I think I’ve interacted with him the most on Twitter so far out of all the Cardinal Bloggers, and I make an effort to interact with many on there. He’s been a great blogger so far, and I know that will continue for the foreseeable future.
13)Post of the Year – How a B-17 nearly clipped Cardinals in World Series
I have always found history to be fascinating, and I have read a little about the history of the Cardinals in a couple of book that I have and this story is amazing. I had never heard about it before, and I need to check out more things on RetroSimba because these are the goodies that I can read about over there. For the record, I want to give honorable mention to Bad body language has no place in baseball and What Does Your Cardinal Jersey Say About You? .
14)Best UCB Project – Cardinals HOF Memorabilia
This one was really hard for me to decide because two of them had to do with history (which as I just stated, I do love learning about) and the other two, I participated in. The roundtables have been nice because I have gotten to hear from and get perspective from the other UCBers about their views on some of the Cardinals subjects. The top 7 prospects was a good time for me to learn about the depth that is in the Cardinals system and get to see from other people who follow the Minor League system better to see who I should be looking out for. But the 2 Cardinals HOF ones got my attention. The hard part was choosing between the inductees and the memorabilia. Alot of those things were inter-twined, but none-the-less, I liked the memorabilia better. It focused on certain moments on history more than on just one moment in the career of a person instead of the career as a whole. I think that was the only reason that I chose it over the other.
15)Best UCB Podcast – UCB Radio Hour
I chose this one for many reasons. I like the rotating hosts. I liked being on it once, and hope to be on it again one day (as long as their wasn’t too much horrible feedback). I think that it’s interesting getting to hear what a good section of the UCBers think about the Cardinals on a regular basis. It’s just cool to have that opportunity to listen and to participate.
16)Best UCB Twitterer – John Nagel
I chose him because he is one of the few that I have interacted with over on Twitter. There have been some great conversations with Joe, Daniel, and a few others, but he was nice enough to chat with me and give me advice on there. He also keeps me updated with what’s going on in the minor leagues, and I’m going to have to pay more attention to that if the Cardinals have any year like they had this year bringing people up and down more than a yo-yo.
So there you have it. My ballot for the 2013 UCB awards. Now hopefully people won’t have to wait a month and watch a 1 hour long show every night of the week just to hear who wins each separate award. I am pretty sure the winners will be on the UCB website as soon as they’re tabulated.