As we look to close out the 2012 season, the United Cardinal Bloggers have one more task to complete – the annual awards. This is always a fun project because you get a chance to pat some of your peers on the back for their efforts. That is always a good thing to do.
Player of the Year: Yadier Molina
Yadi should run away with this, except that he would probably throw himself out in doing so. I had read this one completely wrong last winter, assuming that once Albert Pujols left, Molina would play out his final year and head for greener pastures in free agency. Bzzzt. Not only did he sign a nice extension, one that is good for both sides, but he went out and had a career year. Player of the year, indeed.
Pitcher of the Year: Kyle Lohse
There is no secret that I am a big Kyle Lohse fan. While in St. Louis, he matured and became the pitcher that Minnesota, Philadelphia and Cincinnati all wish he had been while on their roster. He became the “go to” starter, something of an unheralded ace of the staff. He should be rewarded handsomely for his performance while in St. Louis in the winter free agency season and it will be sad to see him go.
Game of the Year: Game 5 of the NLDS.
There was a game, a long time ago, where my dad had gotten frustrated with the way the Cardinals had played and we left the stadium early. The Pirates had a seemingly insurmountable lead. There was no way the Cardinals could come back and make a game of it. I did get a chance to listen to the end of the game, at home on the radio, and the Cardinals did come back and win. That made such an impact on me, that I rarely leave or turn off a game to this day.
I am hoping that Game Five of the NLDS will have that same impact to a new generation of Cardinals fans. It was an unbelievable game to watch.
Performance of the Year: Shelby Miller’s First Start
I know that Cincinnati was just playing out the end of their season and looking forward to the NLDS, but what Miller showed in his first start should give Cardinals fans a lot to look forward to. It will also make the offseason feel just a bit longer as we look forward to seeing more of that in 2013.
Surprise Player of the Year: Jon Jay
As the season got under way, I thought there was zero chance that Jay would play center field all season long. The improvement in his defense was most unexpected. His play in the field saved many a game, and he became something of a solid leadoff hitter. I still would rather see Adron Chambers getting the playing time, but Jon Jay turned me into a serious fan in 2012.
Disappointing Player of the Year: Marc Rzepczynski
This is a real tough one because he didn’t pitch that badly, but he gets the nod as the other candidates were injured and get something of a pass. Rzepczynski wasn’t bad, just inconsistent. I hope that he gets it all figured out over the winter and returns to his 2011 form. I suspect that he will.
Rookie of the Year: Trevor Rosenthal
It has been a long time since I can remember a young pitcher coming up with as much firepower and maturity as Rosenthal demonstrated this season. I can’t wait to see him pitch next year, either in the bullpen in St. Louis or being stretched out as a starter down in Memphis. If you don’t subscribe to Milb.TV, next year might be a real good time to start.
Acquisition of the Year: Edward Mujica
I may be going against the majority on this one, but as good as Carlos Beltran was, and he was very good, it was the acquisition of Mujica that settled down the Cardinals bullpen and set up a run for the first Play-in game. Without Mujica, I don’t think the Cardinals make it to the playoffs. I’m not so sure the same is true about Beltran.
Most Anticipated Cardinal: Carlos Martinez
As much as I would like to vote for Eric Fornataro (and he might get some UCB Rookie of the Year votes in 2014), Carlos Martinez was dazzling at the end of the season for Springfield. I can’t wait to see him pitch in Memphis next year and St. Louis the following spring.
Best Individual Blog: Retrosimba
Assuming that Daniel will be getting a lot of support from the rest of the UCB community, and hopefully from our readers as well, I will take this opportunity to recognize Mark Tomasik’s excellent work at Retrosimba. I am a big fan of the history of this game and team, and nobody does a better job at finding and passing on the long lost stories than Mark. It was a genuine pleasure meeting Mark at the UCB Weekend in September and learning how he goes about his writing. Keep up the good work.
Best Team Blog: Pitchers Hit Eighth
This is always a tough one as there are so many great team blogs. PH8 has the perfect balance of humor and information, always good to provoke a thought or two.
Best Media Blog: Birdland
Best Rookie Blog: Keene on MLB
It is always great to see new contributors join the UCB, and we had several great ones start up this year. Wes gets the nod here because individual blogs are especially hard to keep going after the initial enthusiasm wears down.
Post of the Year: No vote.
Best UCB Project: UCB Weekend
While not a project, exactly, the high point of the season is surely when the UCB members and friends descend on the restaurant formerly known as Pujols 5 for an evening of socialization. It only gets better when we meet up at the ballpark the following day.
Long live the UCB Weekend!
Most Optimistic Blog: Cardinal Diamond Diaries and Aaron Miles Fastball
I want to split my vote in this category because the three ladies at Aaron Miles Fastball do a great job of getting out fun content and need to be recognized for getting it done. Whether it is game recaps or “Love Letters to”, their posts are always on the positive side and never carry even a hint of doom or gloom. Well done, ladies. Keep up the great work.
At the same time, I want to send some encouragement to the ladies at Cardinals Diamond Diaries and let them know that we truly miss their content. Even though the posts were less frequent in 2012, they were still among my favorite to read.
Best UCB Podcast: Conversations with C70
From the opening “you are listening to my daddy’s show” to the closing moments, this is a genuinely fun podcast. Daniel does a great job inviting interesting guests and then giving them the time to tell their stories.
Best UCB Twitter: Dennis @gr33nazn and Marilyn @marilyncolor
There are so many fun twitter buddies and it is impossible to pick just one. If you haven’t spent an evening tweeting during a Cardinals game, you are missing a real tweet. And yes, I am sorry, but that was just too good of a pun to pass up.
Dennis Lawson is one of the best to follow, always keeping things loose and fun. Whether it is another epic rant or a top 10 (or more) reasons posting, Dennis does twitter the way it was meant to be done – enjoyably. Even his doom and gloom postings have a wit that keeps it light, although I think we saw the best of this on Bonfyre at the end of the season. But make no mistake, should the need arise, you will get a great technical analysis of some event, as good you will find anywhere.
My other twitter buddy that does it right is Marilyn Green. She never gets too excited when things too well, and more important, never jumps ship when they don’t. I love the honesty she brings to the social network and there are many a night when I have been glad to see her voice of reason filling the timeline. I’m also a big fan of her contributions at Redbird Rants.
These are my votes. What are some of yours ? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.