The United Cardinal Bloggers have been around for some time now, since 2006 to be exact. One of the early purposes for the group was to identify projects that the members could work together. The first of those projects? The UCB Awards.
While the times have changed the look of the ballot, the tradition continues. Members of the group cast their ballot for team awards as well as awards for various writers, podcasters and even content.
This year’s ballot features some interesting choices, some good debate and some light-hearted fun. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Player of the Year
Nominees: Matt Carpenter, Aledmys Diaz, Yadier Molina, Brandon Moss
My Pick: Aledmys Diaz
The youngster wasn’t expected to make the team out of Spring Training. We were constantly reminded that he wasn’t mature enough, wasn’t ready for the big stage and needed some seasoning at Triple-A Memphis.
Because of that, many fans were naturally apprehensive when he came to the team out of necessity on Opening Day. Now, it seemed the team was rushing him and he may digress.
Quite the alternative, the young man just needed the spotlight to shine in. He far exceeded anyone’s expectations, proved John Mozeliak was a genius with the contract he signed and showed the fans and the team that he was a player to rely on.
Pitcher of the Year
Nominees: Carlos Martinez, Seung-hwan Oh, Alex Reyes
My Pick: Carlos Martinez
No big surprise here, I don’t think. Martinez showed that he is ready to be the leader of the staff and the heir-apparent to the Wainwright throne. While Oh and Reyes were impressive, Martinez was easily the best pitcher on the staff this year.
Game of the Year
Nominees: April 8 at Braves, April 14 at Brewers, July 16 vs. Marlins, July 22 vs. Dodgers, July 27 at Mets, August 5 vs. Braves, August 8 vs. Reds, August 14 at Cubs, September 9 at Pittsburgh, October 1 vs. Pittsburgh
My Pick: October 1 vs Pittsburgh
A lot of good options here that show this team fought for some victories this year, but October 1 stands out to me for a few reasons.
First, it was do-or-die and the team wouldn’t die. While they didn’t hold their fate completely in their hands, they did have to win in order to even have a chance and they did just that.
Second, it showed the core of this team pulling together. Yes, Gyorko hit the homer that mattered, but Holliday and Carpenter drove in runs as well. Trevor Rosenthal pitched three scoreless innings. Oh nailed down a tough save.
This game gave the fans hope that the team was pulling together at just the right time.
Surprise Player of the Year
Nominees: Matt Bowman, Aledmys Diaz, Jedd Gyorko, Brandon Moss
My pick: Aledmys Diaz
For all the reasons mentioned above, Diaz was clearly the biggest surprise of the year. The other names here deserve mentioning, but Diaz stands out to me.
Disappointing Player of the Year
Nominees: Trevor Rosenthal, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Kolten Wong
My Pick: Adam Wainwright
That pains me to write as a fan. But in a year where Wainwright was healthy, seemingly in good spirits and competitive, we got a glimpse of the effects time has taken on the Cardinals’ leader.
Fans expected, and needed, so much more out of the former 20 game winner and instead saw an ace doing everything he could to get outs and go deep into games. It was a struggle to watch. I’m hoping that I’m writing about his resurgence this time next year.
Rookie of the Year
Nominees: Aledmys Diaz, Seung-hwan Oh, Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver
My Pick: Aledmys Diaz
He’s sweeping these awards for me, for sure. I have a hard time voting for Oh based on his experience in other leagues. Reyes and Weaver will be discussed in this space next year as both retain their rookie status. Diaz, had he not been injured, would be discussed for this award at the league level, in my opinion.
Acquisition of the Year
Nominees: Zach Duke, Jedd Gyorko, Mike Leake, Seung-hwan Oh
My Pick: Seung-hwan Oh
Now I can give Oh his proper accolades. The Cardinals have not done well in the international market until this season. Oh is one of the big reasons to think the team is changing that.
The “Final Boss” proved that he can be handed the ball in most any situation. He worked well out of the pen and then stepped into the closer’s role with ease. He gave the team flexibility many didn’t think they had when they needed it most.
Most Anticipated Cardinal
Nominees: Harrison Bader, Austin Gomber, Delvin Perez, Rowan Wick
My pick: Harrison Bader
I will be the first to admit that I’m not a strong follower of the minor league system any more. That said, I have seen some attention thrown Bader’s way and I’m interested to see what the future holds for the young outfielder.
He’s got some pop, drives the ball well, has decent speed and doesn’t hurt the team on defense. Conversely, he strikes out – a lot. That will need to come under some control in the near future, hopefully with some coaching in Memphis.
Best Individual Cardinal Blog
Redbird Dugout – John Doble
Consistently good, in depth writing from Mr. Doble. Seriously worth a bookmark or feed subscription.
Best Team Cardinal Blog
I don’t think they actually think of themselves as a “team blog” as much as a group of individual blogs. That said, when I want information from various voices, that’s where I turn.
Best Media Coverage
Nominees: Derrick Goold, Benjamin Hochman, Jenifer Langosch, Bernie Miklasz, Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Rob Rains
My Pick: Derrick Goold
While I enjoy almost all the writers on here, some more than others, I still turn to Goold for my baseball fix. His knowledge of the game is outstanding and his approach to the game is phenomenal. I am continuously impressed by his love of the game that comes through in his writing.
He posted a picture during the World Series, which he was covering for the Post, of the scoreboard in Wrigley. He noted that there was only one game on the board. It’s small details like that one that don’t escape him and make me come back for more.
12) Post of the Year
Nominees: ”Cardinals Find Perfect Timing as Playoff Hopes Crash”–Bill, I70 Baseball; ”The Kolten Wong Situation”–Daniel, C70 At The Bat; ”Lou Brock, the Lucrative Acquisition Fleet Footed All-Star Societal Difference Maker”–Josey, The Redbird Retreat; ”Not Our Year”–Diane, Women Who Love Cardinal Baseball; ”Worrying What the Flash Means: How We Talk About Race in Baseball”–Chase, Double Birds
My pick: ”The Kolten Wong Situation”–Daniel, C70 At The Bat
A post about a post? Sometimes that’s the best way to look at things. I like Daniel’s breakdown of some significant points in a Rob Rains article. He analyzes and digs deeper. It’s the insight that only a blogger can bring, as they are working with the information second hand. I think it’s a great representation of what we all do.
Most importantly: it’s still worth a read today.
Best UCB Podcast
Nominees: Bird Seeds (video), Conversations With C70, The Double Birds Podcast, Gateway To Baseball Heaven, Meet Me At Musial, STL CardGals, Talking About Birds, UCB Radio Hour
My pick: Bird Seeds
I admit, I don’t listen to many podcasts despite having a long commute and plenty of time for them. I just don’t enjoy them often enough.
There are some quality ones on this list that I tune into from time to time. Many of the people on here are very talented and knowledgable. That said, I enjoy Tara’s YouTube series and tend to watch it as much as I can. Catching some of her other videos is just a bonus.
Best Non-UCB Podcast
Nominees: Best Podcast in Baseball, Cards on Cards, Cubs Cards Cast, St. Louis Cardinals Extras (MLB.com), Two Birds on a Bat, Viva El Birdos
I’m going to elect to stay out of this one. As I said, I typically don’t listen to podcasts and haven’t given any of these the attention they’d deserve for an informed vote.
My Pick: The BlogFather himself, Daniel Shoptaw
Daniel has transitioned well from blogger to podcaster and back again. His voice is on many different podcasts and he’s enjoyable on all of them.
My only regret is leaving the podcasts that we used to do together.
Best UCB Twitterer
I honestly cannot believe I’m not that involved with the Twitter conversation that much anymore. I can’t honestly pick a go to Twitter account here because I just don’t rely on that medium for good conversations any more.
Well, that’s my ballot for this year. You can cast your own by clicking here.
Stay tuned to the official UCB site for the results in the near future.