The Cleveland chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America voted right-handed pitcher Justin Masterson and designated hitter Jason Giambi as the 2013 winners for the group’s annual Man of the Year and Good Guy awards, respectively.
Masterson, who led the Tribe’s pitching staff in wins (14), innings (193) and strikeouts (195) earned the Bob Feller Man of the Year award. Despite missing nearly a month late in the season with an oblique injury, the 6-foot-6 Masterson returned from the disabled list ahead of schedule.
Once cleared to play, he helped the Indians where they needed him most - in relief with the team in pursuit of the American League Wild Card – by pitching 3 2/3 innings of hitless relief in three appearances.
“Justin was one of the best pitchers in the American League for a large portion of the season,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said of the American League All-Star. “When he transitioned to the bullpen at the end of the season, it was a selfless thing to do. He tried to find a way where he could impact the team while he was not built back up to full strength and deserves a lot of credit for that.”
Masterson just beat out Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis, the Indians other All-Star representative, in a close vote. Others nominated for the Man of the Year Award were left fielder Michael Brantley and right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.
The vote wasn’t as close for selecting Giambi as the Frank Gibbons-Steve Olin Good Guy Award, as the 42-year-old veteran was a unanimous selection. Obviously the writers believed American League Manager of the Year Terry Francona when he often said his team wouldn’t have won 92 games and reached the postseason for the first time since 2007 “without G.”
Giambi may have hit .183 (34-for-186) in 71 part-time games, but he was as clutch as any member of the team and had a knack for late-game dramatics. Eight doubles and nine home runs were among Giambi’s 34 hits, the biggest coming on Sept. 24 in the Tribe’s ninth-inning comeback against Chicago.
That night, Giambi produced a game-winning two-run pinch-hit home run to help spark the Indians to a 10-game winning streak over the final week and a half of the regular season that allowed them to clinch the wild card.
But to Francona, “G” was much more than a reliable, late-game pinch hitter. To the veteran manager, the slugger was like having another coach in the clubhouse, a respected veteran who spoke to his younger teammates when they needed some encouraging or someone to discuss hitting slumps with.
To the media, the Good Guy Award also includes being a coach or player who respects the writers’ job in covering the team on a daily basis. Giambi did that and more, never ducking a tough question whether after a win or a loss.
Four others nominated for the award were Francona, utility man Mike Aviles, center fielder Michael Bourn and Masterson.