|2012 produced tons of big MLB stories, from Baltimore to Oakland; from Bobby V. to Loria and much more. (US Presswire)|
The end of the 2012 calendar year is nigh, so what better time than to begin handing out Eye On Baseball's second annual Bloggies? We have so many categories we won't get to everything right now. Part II will run Tuesday [UPDATE: Click here for Part II].
What we'll do is offer up nominees -- anywhere from four to eight -- reveal the selection of each Eye On Baseball blogger and offer up the chance for you, our beloved readership, to make your own selections in the comments section. Definitely feel free to go with a "write-in candidate" as well.
Without further ado ...
- R.A. Dickey wins the N.L. Cy Young. Among other brilliant distinctions, Dickey became the first knuckleballer to ever win the award.
- Giants' postseason run. Any team becoming the World Series champion is one of the season's best moments. That's what the game is all about. But the Giants won six straight elimination games and then swept the World Series. That's incredible.
- Miguel Cabrera wins the Triple Crown. Not since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 had a player led his league in batting average, home runs and RBI.
- The entire LDS round of the playoffs. All four series went to five games for the first time. We saw late-inning heroics from Russell Martin, J.J. Hardy, Raul Ibanez, Josh Reddick, Don Kelly, Seth Smith, Coco Crisp, Tyler Moore, Jayson Werth, Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma. We saw signature performances from CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Carlos Beltran, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey. And we saw Pat Neshek pitch a game after he lost his infant son.
- Chipper Jones' All-Star single. In his final season, Atlanta's future Hall of Famer got his special send-off in Kansas City.
- Kerry Wood's strikeout/retirement curtain call. The Chicago fan favorite once known as "Kid K" decided to hang up the cleats abruptly in mid-May after one last outing. He got the outing and fittingly recorded a strikeout to his final hitter before a rousing ovation from the Wrigley Field crowd. If you haven't seen the highlight, it's worth a watch (via MLB.com).
Matt Snyder: LDS round
C. Trent Rosecrans: Dickey
Dayn Perry: Cabrera/triple crown
- Brandon McCarthy hit in the head. We don't need reminders of how dangerous this game can be, but every once in a while they are provided for us.
- The Ozzie Guillen-Fidel Castro flap. The fiery manager was suspended for five games by the Marlins for saying he loves and respects the Cuban dictator.
- Delmon Young's anti-Semitic spat. Anti-Semitism and racism are pretty stupid, and Young was arrested for aggravated assault that included him yelling anti-Semitic epithets at a group of people.
- Melky Cabrera invents a fake company to get out of a positive drug test. That pretty well speaks for itself, doesn't it? Not only did Melky shame himself, but he shamed the game.
- Cardinals-Nationals, Game 5. The Nats sprung out to an early 6-0 lead, but the scrappy Cardinals clawed all the way back. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Daniel Descalso delivered a two-RBI, game-tying single, which was followed by Pete Kozma coming through with a two-RBI, go-ahead single. And the Cardinals took the epic five-game series.
- Athletics-Tigers, Game 2. Though it was tied, the game was relatively quiet for six innings. But in the seventh, we saw the A's grab a lead, which was then erased when Coco Crisp failed on an attempted basket catch in shallow center. Then, in the eighth, history was made when both teams scored on a wild pitch. In the bottom of the ninth, Don Kelly came through with a walk-off sacrifice fly.
- Giants-Tigers, Game 4. There were a few lead changes and three home runs, in addition to Jeremy Affeldt striking out four guys in 1 2/3 innings through the heart of the Tigers' mighty batting order. There was Marco Scutaro's clutch, go-ahead single in the 10th. And there was Sergio Romo going Gangnam Style on the mound as the Giants clinched their second title in three years.
- Orioles-Red Sox, 17 innings. We didn't yet know what kind of extra-inning juggernaut the Orioles would become in 2012, but this was a harbinger of things to come. In all, 18 pitchers were used, including position players Chris Davis and Darnell McDonald. An Adam Jones three-run homer off McDonald was the big blow, but Davis was the story. He worked two scoreless innings on the bump, striking out two. Not only that, but the contrast between his performance on the mound and the plate was hilarious. He went 0-for-8 with five strikeouts in the batter's box.
- A's-Yankees, late surge. On Sept. 22, the Athletics and Yankees ventured into extra innings tied at five. In the top of the 13th, the A's hit three homers and plated four runs. In the bottom of the 13th, however, the Yankees scored four of their own, the big blow coming on a two-run, game-tying bomb by Raul Ibanez. In the bottom of the 14th, the Yankees won on a walk-off error. Check out the video footage.
- Tough Luck James. The Orioles beat the Rays on Oct. 2 to push the AL East race to the final day of the season. The score was 1-0, as Chris Davis hit a solo home run, though the most impressive performance might have very well come from Rays starter James Shields. He went the distance and only allowed two hits while striking out 15.
Snyder: O's/Chris Davis
Most historic milestone
- Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown. As mentioned above, it was the first time since 1967.
- Bryce Harper with 20 home runs before turning 20. Harper had a transcendent season all around considering his age, but only one man had previously hit more than 20 home runs in a season before turning 20.
- Mike Trout. Take your choice on this one. He was the first rookie with 30 homers and 40 stolen bases. He was the youngest player to join the 30-30 club. He was the first player ever with at least 30 homers, 45 steals and 125 runs. Also, for the sabermetrically-inclined: Only 46 players in MLB history had previously accrued at least 10 WAR in a single season. At 10-7, Trout tied Willie Mays (1964) and Ted Williams (1946) for 20th all-time, and Trout spent nearly a month in the minors to begin the season.
- Josh Hamilton's four-HR game. It was only the 16th time in MLB history someone went yard four times in a game, and Hamilton also set the AL record for total bases in a game.
- Pablo Sandoval's three-HR game in the World Series. How does being in the same sentence as Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols sound?
- Johan Santana throws first no-hitter in Mets history. Or rather, No-Han. It had been 50 years and over 8,000 games before the Mets had a no-no.
Snyder: Cabrera Triple Crown
Rosecrans: Cabrera Triple Crown
Perry: Cabrera Triple Crown
- Orioles make the playoffs. There were few who thought the Orioles could even finish fourth in the AL East heading into the season. Not only that, the Orioles had a negative run differential through much of the season, and only one starting pitcher made more than 20 starts. They used 12 starting pitchers in all. And yet, the O's made the playoffs for the first time since the Clinton administration. They were also historic in extra innings.
- Athletics win the AL West. The A's, like the Orioles, were expected to finish last by most people heading into the season. Other than signing Yoenis Cespedes, their offseason moves pointed to a rebuilding year. Yet they came back from 13 games, were only in first place on the final day of the season and overcame a five-game deficit in the final nine games of the season.
- Nationals had the best record in baseball. Injuries to key players, an innings limit on their ace pitcher, a future star beginning the season in the minors, a strong division ... nope, none of that measured up as the Nationals put together the best record in the majors. Many -- including yours truly -- thought the Nats would become a playoff threat in 2013, but they arrived a year early.
- Edwin Encarnacion explodes. He had 17 homers and 55 RBI in 2011. His career highs were 26 homers and 76 RBI. In 2012, he went for 42 homers and 110 RBI.
- Marlins fall apart? A spending spree seemed to put the Marlins in position for playoff contention in their first year in a new stadium. Instead, they were a disaster and continue to be. There's a question mark here because it could be said that the club was flawed from the get-go.
- Prince Fielder signs with the Tigers. Remember all the way back to the first week of January? Remember us all wondering where Prince Fielder would sign? Were the Tigers even mentioned as a possibility? I believe the answer is no.
- Josh Hamilton signs with the Angels. It wasn't shocking that Hamilton left Texas. The groundwork seemed to have been already laid. But it was shocking the Angels went after more offense after allowing Zack Greinke to leave, considering their problem last year was pitching, not offense.
Least surprising movement
- New York media essentially blames A-Rod for Yankees' ALCS loss. Heaven forbid they concentrate on the entire team failing/getting outplayed in every aspect. Nope, the concentration was all on A-Rod.
- Bobby Valentine experiment fails miserably. Did anyone think this would work out?
- Marlins' offseason firesale. Some were fooled, but apparently the Loria Marlins will never change, no matter their home venue.
- People complain about new playoff format. It's new, so it has to suck, right? What change is ever met with open arms?
- Red Sox. It's convenient and rather easy to act like you saw this past season coming in Boston. But the fact of the matter is the Red Sox were the best team in baseball for about 4 1/2 months in 2011 and returned essentially the same team. They had talent. Lots of it. And they didn't even win 70 games.
- Angels miss playoffs. After spending what they did on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson -- not to mention trading for Greinke and getting what they got out of Mike Trout -- there was no excuse for the Angels to fall short in the regular season.
- Albert Pujols' April performance. In 23 games, the $240-million-man hit .217/.265/.304 with zero home runs and four RBI. The Angels' record in the month was 8-15, and they missed the playoffs by four games. Do the math.
- Marlins. Basically everything, on the field and off, except Giancarlo Stanton is a colossal disappointment in 2012. What an embarrassment.
- Indians' post-All-Star break collapse. The Tribe was 44-41 at the break. After a win on July 26, the Indians were still above water at 50-49. But they lost 28 of their next 33 and finished 68-94. They went 5-24 in August.
- Tim Lincecum's regular season. Four-time All-Stars, two-time NL Cy Young winners and highly-regarded aces don't usually go 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA and 1.47 WHIP when they are 28 years old.
Perry: Red Sox
Most Bush League moment
- Alfredo Aceves refuses to walk by his manager. Say what you will about Bobby Valentine, but he was still Aceves' boss when Aceves refused to even acknowledge Valentine's existence in mid-September.
- Matt Holliday takes out Marco Scutaro. Holliday apologized to Scutaro and admitted his error, so we can probably let him off the hook. Still, his take-out slide in Game 2 of the NLCS was very late.
- Aroldis Chapman's double somersault. One man who hated this? His manager.
- Cole Hamels hits Bryce Harper just because. Personally, I don't have a huge issue with this, but many do.
- Nyjer Morgan slaps a fan. My thoughts on this are well-documented.
- Tim Welke. Todd Helton wasn't even within two feet of the bag.
- Infield fly rule. There's some question here as to whether or not it was a bad call, but the infield-fly call in the Braves-Cardinals wild-card game definitely merits mention here.
- Mike Aviles' non-K. I believe Danny Knobler's headline said it all.
- Overturned triple play. Anyone wanna watch this and explain why the call was changed?
- Dewayne Wise's "catch." He fell into the stands without the ball, the umpire ran down the line to check on lord-knows-what and called the batter out. Meanwhile, a fan was celebrating with the newly-acquired baseball.
- Jerry Meals, Mark Teixeira and the Orioles. Teixeira shouldn't have slid into first base, but he was laying on the bag when Mark Reynolds caught the ball and Meals called Teixeira out. Terrible.
Enjoy how brutal this is:
- Ozzie Guillen. He's always colorful and has never changed on that front.
- Melky Cabrera. Remember, villains are characters, too. If the 2012 season were a movie, Cabrera's character certainly would have been memorable.
- Bobby Valentine. As much as you wanted to look away, you just couldn't. It was a train wreck.
- Frank McCourt. Speaking of villains.
- Jeffrey Loria. And another! He's only slightly more popular than Castro.
- Bryce Harper. He's polarizing among fans. Most non-Nationals fans seem to hate him, but he's an incredibly exciting young player and provided us with the "clown question, bro" meme.
- Bud Selig. It's Bud. You gotta have him here.
- Mike Morse recreates grand slam. If you haven't seen it, check it out. It's glorious.
- Kelly Shoppach's "slide." That's a rough way to earn one's first career steal.
- Miguel Cabrera's "little league home run." Thanks to some awful defense by the Rockies, Miggy came around and scored on his own would-be groundout. MLB.com has the video.
- AstroLOLs. Oy.
- AstroLOLs, Part II. Oy again.
- Barry Zito's "pitch." This is easily my favorite pitch ever.
- Buck Showalter and Mark Reynolds. Reynolds accidentally left his venerable manager hanging.
Here you go:
- Davey Johnson vs. Joe Maddon. "I would never use my Tweeter to an unfair advantage" and "I thought he was a weird wuss," this temporary flap was awesome.
- Bryce Harper vs. Ozzie Guillen. Guillen thought Harper had too much pine tar on his bat, so Harper got a new one and held it toward Ozzie as if to say, "is this one OK?" Guillen later said someone might kick Harper's ass if he keeps doing stuff like this.
- Yankees fans vs. the Yankees in the ALCS. The Yankees won 95 games and the AL East. They went to the ALCS. But a poor offensive showing in Games 1 and 2 meant nonstop boos from the home fans in the Bronx.
- C.J. Wilson vs. Mike Napoli in the spring. Wilson tweeted Napoli's cell-phone number to his hundreds of thousands of followers, supposedly in return for Napoli saying he wanted to take Wilson deep.
- Royals fans vs. Robinson Cano in the Home Run Derby. Cano didn't pick Royals' DH Billy Butler to take part in the Derby in Kansas City. What ensued was a remarkable amount of venom in Cano's direction throughout. It actually stole the show and it was fair to say the stars of Monday night during the All-Star break were the K.C. fans.
Coming Tuesday: Part II, which includes Best sacrifice of own body, Best tweeter, Boneheaded play of the year, Most impressive homer, Best outfield catch, Best outfield throw, Best infield play, Most annoying storyline, the Brian Wilson Award (Best beard), Best viral video/GIF and Best pitching performance by a position player.