When I submitted my annual Cardinal Blogger Awards ballot, I put answers without explanation. That’s what I get for trying to do it at work and not taking the proper time to give a little thought to my reasoning. You can view my original ballot right here. I am going to give the ballot a proper breakdown here. The best thing about being a writer is you can always come back and make it better with another article. Here we go. This may not blow your face off, but it will hopefully enlighten a few desperate souls.
Player of The Year-Matt Carpenter
Tough choice here. Jhonny Peralta came in and fixed a much needed position at shortstop. Matt Holliday recovered from a ghostly start to provide his usual clutch hitting and consistency. However, Carpenter once again provided that much needed spark at the top of the order. He also locked down another position full time when he went to third base. Carpenter won’t win a gold glove at third, but he played the position well for a guy fielding it full time for the first season in his career. He didn’t duplicate the 2013 stats that made national analysts turn their head and caused MVP voters to slide him a few votes, but he was concrete again in the leadoff role. He had an on base percentage of .375 and drove in 59 runs to go along with 99 runs scored and 162 hits. He played in 158 games, which is appropriate for a leadoff guy. All in all, Carpenter is a vital piece to this team and he lives up to his last name. When a team has a leak, he seems to be able to find a way to fix it. No matter where he hits in the lineup in 2015, he will be a highly valuable piece.
Pitcher Of the Year-Lance Lynn
Adam Wainwright was amazing again and that isn’t being overlooked here. However, I believe in ascension of players and their importance to the overall of the team. When the Cards were hurting with Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha hurting and Waino dealing with injuries, Lynn provided a strong second half and carried the team. He provided similar numbers that he put up in 2013 but did so in 2014 without all the run support and drama. He grew up in 2014 and became a more economical pitcher on the mound. He grew more confident in front of the media and discovered that line that stands between uncontrollable rage and contained fire. He’s my pitcher of the year and someone I can see leading a rotation someday soon.
Game of the Year-NLCS Game 4(Adams Leap)
Carp’s big hit in Game 1 was great and will go down as the first tire kicked out under Clayton Kershaw’s mustang but it was Matt Adams’ cranking an improbable series deciding bomb at home against Kershaw that will go down as the greatest moment of 2014. He couldn’t hit lefties much, but he saved his big hit for this moment and it carried the team into the next round. Seeing Kershaw hunched over after a Carpenter hit has become normal but seeing it after this big smash was extra special. People who were there at Busch Stadium that day(myself included) will never forget the feeling they had when that ball left his bat. Adams won’t forget it either. He smoked all the rumors of a time share at first base into right field with that poor baseball. More than Adams, it was Shelby Miller holding the Dodgers in check. It was the well pitched game from the Cards bullpen. It was the second straight upset of the Dodgers. All around, great game.
Surprising Player Of The Year-Pat Neshek
Simple here. NO ONE saw Neshek’s 2014 production in a relief role coming into the season. I don’t even think John Mozeliak did. Neshek started out rough in April but eventually worked his way into befuddling hitters. Neshek only gave out 9 walks in 67.1 innings, a vital tool for a reliever. His WHIP(hits and walks allowed on average per inning) was a filthy 0.79. Neshek earned himself a big contract from another team with his amazing 2014 performance. Another revamped pitcher coming to St. Louis for career rehab and leaving with a new lease on his life. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy either.
Disappointing Player Of The Year-Peter Bourjos
This will draw some fire but I will take it. Bourjos came into the 2014 season looking to lock down the center field job and lost it to Jon Jay throughout the course of the season. Bourjos couldn’t develop the hitting stroke that he had before wrist surgery in 2011, striking out 78 times in 264 at bats and hitting a paltry .231 and only stealing 9 bases. He never provided that burst of energy or speed in a full time role that I thought he would coming into the season. Maybe he wasn’t given a proper chance. He did hit better in August and September but he still fits the disappointing label here.
Cardinal Rookie Of The Year-Kolten Wong
His defense needs polishing and he has to be more consistent, but when he was on, Wong was dangerous in 2014. He cranked 12 home runs and stole 20 bases in his rookie season. The kid proved to the city that the Cards have found their second baseman for the future. That was in question before. Going into 2015 it’s a given that second base is Wong’s.
Acquisition of the Year-Jhonny Peralta
Peralta brought better than advertised(even if it wasn’t supposed to be that bad) defense to shortstop and injected some pop into the position that had been missing since Edgar Renteria had his better days in red. Jhonny may not show a ton of emotion or flash, but he is silky smooth at short and made his big contract stand up in 2014.
Most Anticipated Cardinal-Stephen Piscotty
Jason Heyward is coming, and I voted before the trade, but as far as Cardinal coming up through the system in 2015, I am looking at Piscotty. He has similar tools as Randal Grichuk, but is sharper in vital areas. He makes contact, doesn’t strike out and has great defense in the outfield. He has the hitter makeup of Matt Carpenter(not bad, see top of the list) and can play here for a long time once given the opportunity.
Cardinal Moment of the Year-Big City Leap
We went over this already. Easily the best moment.
Best Individual Cardinal Blog-C70 At Bat
Daniel Shoptaw’s blog recaps the games Monday through Friday and does it with a depth and quiet wit that can’t be taught. He separates the heroes from the goats and calls it like he sees it without attacking players and coaches. It’s a scientific approach that seems simple and perfect at the same time.
Best Team Cardinal Blog-Viva El Birdos
Led by the sharp Joe Schwartz, this site brings you a variety of exquisite Cardinal material and in all sizes and packages. It may be a game recap or a minor league player breakdown. These peeps know how to mix a little of everything into one pot and deliver a blunt take year long. Bookmark the site. Take my word for it.
Best Cardinal Media Coverage-Bernie Miklasz
I’ve read Bernie since I was a kid dreaming of being a writer and his style and ability have grown stronger as the years have flown by. He is deadly accurate when it comes to the use of stats and he drives his points home with a hammer. He isn’t afraid to call himself out on a mistake and always takes players to task when needed. He writes about all sports but I look forward to his baseball coverage the most here in The Lou.
Best Rookie Cardinal Blog-High Sock Sunday
Cole Claybourn is a unique talent. He mixes analytic data with a sophisticated commentary in his articles and uses his journalism background to cover all the corners. He is ambitious enough to score interviews with Gabe Kapler and takes his talent on the ESPN network in Evansville. Cole is a wise division of the Cards Conclave. A much needed dose of clarity in a noisy season.
Post of the Year-Lynning(Fact or Fiction) by Daniel Shoptaw
Right before Lynn went on his renaissance, Shoptaw examined what Twitter Cardinal Nation had coined the “Lynning”. He used stats, his own eye and a recoup of every game the man had pitched it seemed in his article. It was the perfect preview to a pitcher set to turn it all around. Worth a read.
Best UCB Project-Bloggers as Players
Bloggers spend the entire year playing General Manager, so it was fitting here for the UCB group members to construct a roster of their favorite writers and put them in positions. It was a fun project and challenging at the same time.
Best UCB Podcast-UCB Radio Hour
A slight self promotion here, but throughout the entire month this channel of thought delivers. If it is Bill Ivie and myself breaking down a week of games while one is going on during the podcast or Tara Wellman and Matt Whitener going back and forth on their fierce takes, the UCB Radio always delivers on a weekly basis.
Best Non UCB Podcast-The Best Podcast in Baseball
Bringing together two furiously busy minds in Miklasz and Derrick Goold, the show isn’t long enough. They go through timely issues with the Cards and add in their own distinct flavors in a podcast that couldn’t happen enough. I respect these two the most in this profession and that is because they know how to utilize their audience and combine exposure and expertise.
Best Twitterer-Bob Netherton(@CardinalTales)
Every game and even during the open dates, Bob delivers his honest opinion on popular topics along with engaging fellow bloggers and telling history lessons with old game descriptions. No one I know utilizes 140 characters better than Bob.
The breakdown is complete. I hope this worked and helped support my original picks.