Every November the United Cardinal Bloggers vote for the best of the season just completed as well as the best of our peers. Here are our ballots for 2013.
Yes, Matt Carpenter had an incredible, and unexpected, breakout season and earned a well-deserved fourth place finish in National League MVP voting. But Yadi is Yadi — on offense, on defense, as a leader. He’s intrinsic to the Cardinals success and one of the biggest reasons the 2013 team made it to Game Six of the World Series.
Tara: Matt Carpenter
This might seem hypocritical of me, considering the excessive lobbying I did for Yadier Molina for MVP, but it’s hard to beat the transformation Carpenter made this year. Not only did he learn a new position — and fare exceptionally well in it — but he also took over the leadoff role, carried much of the offensive weight, and went from a “probably not an every day guy” to a fourth place finish in the MVP voting. I’ve always seen something special in Matt, but this year exceeded even my lofty expectations!
Pitcher of the Year
Chris: Adam Wainwright
With a starter plus two eighth-inning-guys-turned-closers, it’s not necessarily an equal comparison to choose among these three options. But, in the end, results speak for themselves. Nineteen wins (regardless of your opinion on them, that’s not a total many pitchers reach in a season), 2.94 ERA, 219 strikeouts with only 35 walks, five complete games, two shutouts and 6.2 WAR speak pretty loudly — as does a complete game in the decisive Game Five of the NLDS after a dominant Game One start.
Tara: Trevor Rosenthal
There was nothing more impressive than how Rosey handled the postseason. His first appearance in the NLDS, I thought he was going to pass out on the mound! But (after that magical talk from Molina), he did more than just settle. He absolutely owned the 9th inning. The confidence, the accuracy, the power … he was phenomenal. It wasn’t just the posteason, though that’s most distinct in my memory. He started the season as a key piece of a bullpen in flux. Not knowing what his role was, or what it might morph into, he steadily improved, and, for the most part, consistently executed. What a year he had!
Game of the Year
Chris: This was tough, but in the end I went with the literal “win or go home” contest, NLDS Game Four.
Michael Wacha’s near no-hitter on Sept. 24 was absolutely impressive, but to follow it up by no-hitting the Pirates into the eighth inning, in his first playoff appearance, at PNC Park with 40,000-plus screaming, in a must-win situation — well, nothing else on the list can top that, even though every one of those games was meaningful and memorable in its own way.
Tara: September 24 vs. Nationals (Wacha near no-no)
Miller’s 27-straight and Waino’s near no-hitter were sensational. They, perhaps, are at a slight disadvantage because I was not actually able to watch them. Wacha’s masterpiece though? That one I saw. Every pitch. And, from about the sixth inning on, I stopped breathing. So, surviving that game was award-worthy in and of itself! Seriously, though, that was the moment we all really saw what a gem Wacha is and can be for the future.
Surprise Player of the Year
Chris: Matt Carpenter for position players, Kevin Siegrist for pitchers — as I really can’t decide between the two. Both were so impressive, both were surprising in just how successful they were.
Tara: Seth Maness. This season certainly provided plenty of options for this award, huh? So many guys ended up in roles we didn’t expect. I’d heard the highest of praise of Maness, but hadn’t seen him myself. I know the “double-play guy” isn’t a real role, but he nearly turned it into one, don’t you think? Like Rosenthal, Siegrist, Wacha and Co., he carried himself with a poise far beyond his experience. And there’s no telling how this season might have turned without a few of those absolutely clutch double play balls! He was a joy to watch this season.
Disappointing Player of the Year
Chris: David Freese. He had a few shining moments, like his homer in Game One of the NLDS, but overall his at-bats were all-too-often unfortunately predictable. And, in the time since I started this post earlier today, we now know he’s a former Cardinal. So, thanks Freeser, for everything you did in your years as a Redbird — and, obviously and especially, for October 2011. None of us will ever forget your heroics.
Tara: Pete Kozma. The most accurate answer is probably David Freese, but the poor guy is going to have enough people piling on.
Rookie of the Year
Chris: Have to go with Michael Wacha, and it could be based only on his late September/October success alone. Hard to top the unbelievable performances he had when it mattered the most.
Tara: Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha. I’m cheating and calling it a tie. Without Miller’s regular season, the Cardinals likely wouldn’t have made the playoffs. Without Wacha’s postseason, they certainly wouldn’t have made it to the World Series. Wacha didn’t have all the outings Miller did, and he was obviously fresher near the end of the year. But, despite Miller’s postseason absence, he still had a season well above many expectations.
Acquisition of the Year
Chris: Randy Choate. And doesn’t the thin list here really point out just how stellar the Cardinals farm system is? No need to acquire players when you have them already in the system.
Tara: Randy Choate. But only because Ty Wigginton isn’t an option … I kid, I kid. At times, I almost felt bad for Choate and the little work he was given. But, he did his job, calmly and quietly, and added a veteran presence to an exceptionally young bullpen. There’s no denying how valuable that is.
Most Anticipated Cardinal
Chris: Because every other blogger out there is surely saying Oscar Taveras — and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing him — it also will be great to see Stephen Piscotty. After having the chance to see him in 2012 at third base in the Quad Cities, I’m interested to see him in the outfield and to see how he continues to blossom as a hitter (especially with how he did in the Arizona Fall League).
Tara: Oscar Taveras. It’s time. I’m ready to see if he’s matured enough to work past the injury and succeed along side the big boys
Best Individual Cardinal Blog
Chris: This was very tough, as there are so many quality solo blogs out there — so very many, plus so many great new bloggers who came on board this year. Ultimately, my choice is for RetroSimba. Mark consistently educates me with his posts, often on Cardinals history but also on how what happens throughout the course of a season relates to the past (such as with Matt Carpenter’s total number of doubles or Allen Craig’s RISP average). I’m a smarter fan because of what I learn from Mark.
Tara: STL Cup of Joe
Best Team Cardinal Blog
Chris: Redbird Rants. Daniel and his staff are always great on breaking news but also have unique opinions to share on the Cardinals as well. Marilyn’s posts are always interesting and often thought-provoking.
Tara: Redbird Rants.
Best Media Coverage
Chris: Derrick Goold. So much great content, all the time, plus he’s terrific on Twitter and even with his Bird Land Facebook page. Very glad he’s the beat writer for the Post-Dispatch now.
Tara: Derrick Goold.
Best Rookie Cardinal Blog
Chris: This is probably the toughest vote of all, as each of these guys — John, Dan, Joe and Ben — work hard and have consistent, interesting and enjoyable content. In the end, after a lot of thought, my choice is John’s Cardinals Farm. I subscribe to his posts by email, so every morning during the minor league season I had the results of last night’s games right there waiting for me and presented in informative descriptions.
Tara: CardinalsFarm. For a team with such a star-studded minor league system, it’s about time someone covered it this thoroughly!
Post of the Year
Chris: Have to go with Mark from RetroSimba here, with How a B-17 nearly clipped Cardinals in World Series. Informative, interesting, something I had no clue at all had even happened before I read it. But the rest of the posts in this category are all outstanding as well, especially Diane’s tribute to Stan and Daniel’s creative “what does your Cardinals jersey say about you?” Joe’s post, “Matt Holliday: one of the most cost effective players in baseball,” is tremendous as well.
Tara: What Does Your Cardinals Jersey Say About You? (C70 At The Bat). Because every blogger need to have a little fun now and again!
Best UCB Project
Chris: I’m going to go with one not listed and say The Bird’s Eye View e-newsletter. I enjoyed writing them, but enjoyed even more reading all the different perspectives and approaches each blogger had in writing the series previews throughout the season.
Tara: Cardinal HOF Memorabilia. It’s always fun to take a trip down Cardinals Memory Lane, and it was very interesting to see the things people hope to see represented.
Best UCB Podcast
Chris: UCB Radio Hour. Different hosts, different perspectives, different show each week — yet always enjoyable.
Tara: UCB Radio Hour. It’s great getting a chance to hear the different voices of the UCB try to fit a week’s worth of goodness into 30 minutes! It’s a challenge I can attest to, so I respect all who try!
Best UCB Twitterer
Chris: This is impossible to narrow down to one so it’s a three-way tie among Daniel (@C70), Bob (@CardinalTales) and Mark (@RetroSimba). It’s always pleasant to tweet with Daniel and Bob throughout the course of a game, and it was always fun when Mark was tweeting during a game since I knew he’d have stats at the ready to tweet out based on a game situation.
Tara: @C70 (if for no other reason that starting the #CardsPlaneProblems hashtag!)