12/04/12 2:50 PM ET
Rodney nets GIBBY for Closer of the Year
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
2012 GIBBY Award winners
|MLB MVP||Miguel Cabrera|
|Hitter of the Year||Miguel Cabrera|
|Starting Pitcher of the Year||R.A. Dickey|
|Rookie of the Year||Mike Trout|
|Closer of the Year||Fernando Rodney|
|Setup Man of the Year||Sergio Romo|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Yadier Molina|
|Breakout Hitter of the Year||Chase Headley|
|Breakout Pitcher of the Year||R.A. Dickey|
|Comeback Player of the Year||Buster Posey|
|Manager of the Year||Buck Showalter|
|Executive of the Year||Billy Beane|
|Postseason MVP||Pablo Sandoval|
|Play of the Year||Mike Trout|
|Storyline of the Year||Tie: O's season
|Hitting Performance of the Year||Josh Hamilton|
|Pitching Performance of the Year||Matt Cain|
|Oddity of the Year||Michael Morse|
|Walk-off of the Year||Chipper Jones|
|Cut4 Topic of the Year||Bryce Harper|
|Postseason Moment||Raul Ibanez|
MLB's A-listers won 2012 GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of baseball's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
This year's GIBBY Awards featured nominees in 21 categories. Individual honors went to the MLB Most Valuable Player, in addition to the year's best starting pitcher, hitter, setup man, rookie, breakout hitter, breakout pitcher, comeback player, defensive player, executive and postseason performer.
GIBBY trophies were also awarded for the year's top play, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, Cut4 topic and postseason moment, from MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
Rodney logged a historic season as the Rays' closer after signing with the team as a free agent on Jan. 4. His 0.60 ERA set a Major League record, breaking Dennis Eckersley's record of 0.61, which he set in 1990 while pitching for Oakland.
Rodney allowed just one earned run in 45 innings over his final 45 appearances, beginning on June 16.
In addition, Rodney recorded a club-record and a career-high 48 saves, breaking Rafael Soriano's mark of 45, set in 2010. Rodney and Eckersley are the only two pitchers in Major League history to post 40 saves and a sub-1.00 ERA in a season.
Rodney's GIBBY recognition is the latest award won by the 35-year-old right-hander from Samana, Dominican Republic.
Rodney was named AL Comeback Player of the Year -- an award chosen by the 30 club beat reporters for MLB.com -- becoming the second Tampa Bay player to earn the honor, joining Carlos Pena (2007).
Rodney was also named MLB's Delivery Man of the Year, chosen by a panel from MLB, and became the first player in Rays history to earn the honor.
A remarkable component of Rodney's story in 2012 was the dramatic turnaround he made in his career.
Rodney had been a successful -- and overpowering -- closer for the Tigers, with his best season being 2009, when he saved 37 games. But he left Detroit and headed for the West Coast, signing with the Angels, who paid him $11 million for two seasons.
Unfortunately for Rodney and the Angels, the right-hander saved just 17 games between 2010 and '11, pitching only 32 innings in 2011.
Rodney returned home to the D.R. during the offseason, looking for answers as to why his career had gone into such a tailspin. Pitching in the Winter Leagues allowed him to regain confidence and ultimately his effectiveness. All he needed was a chance.
"I worked hard in the offseason last year," Rodney said, "so I could get an opportunity to trust the stuff I have and be in the game."
Rays scouts liked what they saw, which led to the team signing Rodney to a one-year deal for 2012 that paid him $2 million and included a club option for $2.5 million in '13.
Rodney showed up at Spring Training as insurance for the Rays' bullpen. But when Kyle Farnsworth, the club's closer in 2011, began the season on the disabled list, Rodney was given a shot to become the closer.
"It's something I did; I didn't have a plan to do this this year," Rodney said. "I had the opportunity to prove to [Rays manager Joe Maddon] that I can pitch at this level in this game. And it happened."
Maddon marveled at Rodney's season.
"Where he's come from, last year and the year before that, that's the part that's probably the most incredible," Maddon said. "To be as dominating as he is right now, coming off some really tough times, it's a tribute to him, too. The opportunity was here. He seized it and he's run with it, but it's kind of amazing."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.