It really is hard to believe this is the 11th year that I’ve done this with this group of people, a group that shifts, ebbs, and flows but still provides such interesting thoughts and great content. Cheers to the United Cardinal Bloggers! And now, let’s get into the ballot. (If you haven’t voted already, you can do so right here!)
While all the other players could lay claim to a good season, Pham was on another level. The first 20/20 man since 2004. A line of .300/.400/.500. Solid to great defense. All of these and he didn’t come up until May. We talked about it in the Exit Interview, but a strong spring out of him where he makes the team and it’s possible we actually did see some postseason baseball, even as flawed as this team was.
You know it was difficult to pick against the Patron Pitcher of the Blog here and he did do an outstanding job stabilizing the bullpen, especially in the second half. However, relief pitchers either have to be extremely dominant or have a terrible starting rotation to win this sort of award and neither fits the case here. Martinez might not have been the baseball-wide ace that we were hoping we’d see this season, but he still was a force to be reckoned with. All it will take is a little more consistency and he’ll be a guy no team wants to face.
#3 Game of the Year
Nominees: April 24 vs. Toronto, May 14 vs. Chicago, July 8 vs. New York, July 21 at Chicago, August 9 vs. Kansas City, September 22 vs. Pittsburgh
My pick: July 21 at Chicago
There are a lot of interesting games on the ballot and I expect a lot of people will go with the August 9 “Rally Cat” game because of those dramatics and everything that went with it, but to me I have to go with that game against the Cubs. It wasn’t really the game as much as it was that one beautiful, beautiful inning. As I wrote at the time, it was a great bit of out of the blue amazingness. The first 10 batters reach. There was runs walked in, there were almost grand slams….it was just a glorious sight.
All of these guys had different levels of surprise to them. We knew that Pham had plenty of talent, it was just a matter of staying healthy. We knew DeJong could be capable at some point, though maybe not as soon as last year or to that level. Brebbia, well, I didn’t even know his name to start the season. However, Martinez just surprised me more than anyone else. I was really certain the Cardinals were wasting a 40-man roster spot on him last winter but he proved to be a solid hitter and took to first base better than you’d expect mid-season as well.
As with the above award, you could go with any of these nominees and be pretty accurate. It probably depends on what you expected of them coming into the season. For me, I really didn’t see any reason Oh couldn’t have been at least close to what he was in 2016 and he should have combined with Trevor Rosenthal and Kevin Siegrist to form a solid late inning corps. If Oh is Oh, the Cardinals probably win 3-4 more games early on in the season. That could have made the season very interesting in the last week.
It’s hard to go against a guy that finished second in the entire National League in rookie voting, isn’t it? DeJong became a force for the Cardinals after his promotion and never really stopped his power hitting. He wound up in the third spot in the lineup quite a bit and was a huge part of the offense clicking at all.
There’s a lot to be said for what Nicasio brought to the team over the last three weeks, but that was just three weeks and it didn’t results in a miracle run to the playoffs. On the other hand, Fowler (after the first couple of weeks) had a solid offensive season and was adequate in the outfield. There’s little doubt the team was better because of his presence.
I know Kyle Reis is drooling over Arozerena and Colin Garner loves Hudson and those are two guys who know the minors better, but I’m going with O’Neill just because he’s the closest to the bigs and he’s got that power that we’ve been talking about for some time. It’d also be interesting to see if they really got something for Marco Gonzales. Of course, this now probably means O’Neill will get dealt off somewhere soon.
#9 Individual Cardinal Blog of the Year
Nominees: Baseball Geek in Galveston, C70 At The Bat, Cardinal Red Baseball, CardinalsGM, Double Birds, MLB Voice, Pop Culture Abstract, Redbird Dugout, RetroSimba, STL Cards ‘n Stuff, View From The Cheap Seats, Women Who Love Cardinal Baseball
My pick: RetroSimba
So many wonderful blogs to choose from and it’s nice to see a solid list that has most of them updated on a regular basis. I feel like I can’t vote for Mark Tomasik and his amazing historical work enough, though. Mark always knows how to find a topic that ties in with current events and lets us know the history behind it. It’s amazing work and everyone should be reading him regularly.
#10 Team Cardinal Blog of the Year
Nominees: Cardsblog, The Redbird Daily, Redbirds Nest in Korea, Redbird Rants, STL Hat Trick, Viva El Birdos
My pick: The Redbird Daily
Again, a lot of good stuff here. VEB will probably get a lot of votes, but I think overall the guys at The Redbird Daily did an exceptional job this year. They had folks come and go (including their founder) but they kept putting out some quality, thoughtful pieces. Plus they had two podcasts come out of that group and that’s not counting my co-host on Meet Me at Musial. Just a great job all around.
#11 Best Media Coverage
Nominees: Derrick Goold, Benjamin Hochman, Jenifer Langosch, Bernie Miklasz, Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Rob Rains
My pick: Derrick Goold
We say this every year but Cardinal fans are fortunate to have such complete and quality coverage of the Cardinals. Almost every one of these will be writing on the Cardinals at least weekly and interacting on Twitter to give you even more detail. With Twitter, the podcast, the chat, and his writing, Goold sneaks ahead of his compatriots. All of them are must reads and must follows, though.
#12 Post of the Year
Nominees: “A Decade of C70 At The Bat”, “Go Home Cardinals Fans, You’re Drunk”, “How Can Baseball Promote Itself to Women Without Being Sexist?”, “The Miscasting of Dexter Fowler”, “St. Louis Cardinals: Extend Carlos Martinez”, “St. Louis Cardinals Owe Fans a Yadier Molina Extension”
My pick: The Miscasting of Dexter Fowler
Except for that first nominee, which was a sappy pile of junk, all of these were solid contenders. I enjoyed Eugene’s work on the season Fowler had and the way he showed how some of the expectations that were out there came from the front office and were perhaps unattainable in the first place. It was a solid read with some good statistical backup.
#13 Best UCB Podcast
Nominees: 11th Inning Stretch, Bird Law, Bird Seeds, Conversations With C70, The Double Birds Podcast, Gateway to Baseball Heaven, Meet Me at Musial, Prospect to be Named Later, STL CardGals, Talking About Birds, UCB Radio
My pick: Prospect to be Named Later
I listen to a lot of podcasts during the season and there were a lot of good ones out there this year, including a couple that started up from our friends at The Redbird Daily. In a close vote, I went with Kyle and Colin here because I really enjoyed the way they broke down the minors and gave a lot of interesting information in a casual manner. I know they started mid-season and there weren’t as many episodes, but I’m hopeful that they’ll put in a full year of work next year.
#14 Best Non-UCB Podcast
Nominees: Best Podcast in Baseball, Cubs Cards Cast, St. Louis Cardinals Extras, Two Birds on a Bat, Viva El Birdos Podcast
My pick: Best Podcast in Baseball
Again, a lot of good stuff here and you probably aren’t going to go wrong with any of it, but there’s plenty of good information coming in the BPIB podcast. Derrick Goold and Benjamin Hochman (who didn’t do as many shows this year for scheduling reasons, it seems) usually have a good back-and-forth about whatever the issues are of the day. It’s not perfect, of course, and it depends on your opinions of the hosts, but overall it’s a solid show always worth listening to. (Note: This ballot came out before Jim Hayes started his show, otherwise he probably would have gotten my vote here.)
#15 Best Podcaster (write-in)
My pick: Kyle Reis
I work with two amazingly good co-hosts on the regular in Tara Wellman and Allen Medlock. Either one of them could have gone in this spot as well (and I believe Tara did last year!) and I really enjoy talking to them on a regular basis. I went with Kyle just because of the passion and the focus that he brings to the minor leagues. He always seems to be having so much fun breaking down a Springfield hitter or a Memphis pitcher. It’s great listening to him drool over guys like Arozerena and Helsley. Plus he’s always been generous with his time to do guest spots on Musial, which I obviously appreciate!
#16 Best UCB Twitterer (write-in)
My pick: JonDobleRBD
I promise the Top Cards on Twitter will come out probably in December and I’m very interested to see how that all shakes out. There are plenty of people in the United Cardinal bloggers that have great Twitter feeds, but Jon is great about not only putting out original ideas but also interacting with those that want to discuss it with him in a reasonable, calm manner. It’s not always you can find that on Twitter!
Voting remains open in these awards until November 30 if you want to vote via the link above. Once the votes are cast both by the bloggers and the readers, we’ll put together an awards show to let you know how they all turned out, hopefully sometime early in December. So be looking for it!