Prior to his 2013 season ending prematurely due to a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, Mets phenom Matt Harvey not only established himself as one of the best young pitchers in the Majors, but also earned three GIBBY Award nominations in the process.
Harvey, who underwent Tommy John surgery on Oct. 22, is responsible for nearly half of the Mets' seven overall 2013 GIBBY nominations. The 24-year-old right-hander is in the running for both best starting pitcher and best breakout pitcher, as well as for the season's top pitching performance with his May 7 near-perfect game.
To round out the Mets' nominees, center fielder Juan Lagares earned a pair of GIBBY nominations for his defensive efforts, while the club also has two separate plays in the running for the year's top oddity.
In his first full big league season, Harvey finished the year 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 26 starts before his elbow issues ultimately ended his season on Aug. 24.
"Here's my thought: going into this year, you knew Harvey was going to be good," Mets third baseman David Wright said earlier this month. "You didn't know Harvey was going to be flat-out dominant. It was a bonus that he became flat-out dominant."
That dominance was on full display on May 7 when Harvey allowed just one baserunner over nine shutout innings against the White Sox. Harvey coasted through 6 2/3 perfect innings before allowing then-White Sox outfielder Alex Rios to reach on an infield single with two outs in the seventh. He finished the night having allowed just the one hit while striking out 12 and walking none as the Mets ultimately won 1-0 in 10 innings.
"The best thing he had going is that he had everything going," said John Buck, Harvey's catcher at the time.
Harvey was again firing on all cylinders on Aug. 7 against the Rockies when he turned in the first complete game shutout of his young career. He limited Colorado to four hits while striking out six and walking zero in what proved to be his final victory of the season.
"He was dirty," said Rockies 17-year veteran first baseman Todd Helton. "As good as I've seen in a long, long time. They found them a good pitcher."
The other GIBBY Award nominess for best starting pitcher include: Max Scherzer (Tigers), Anibal Sanchez (Tigers), Bartolo Colon (Athletics), Yu Darvish (Rangers), Hisashi Iwakuma (Mariners), Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals), Cliff Lee (Phillies), Jose Fernandez (Marlins), Adam Wainwright (Cardinals), Madison Bumgarner (Giants) and Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers). As for the best breakout-pitcher category, Harvey is joined in the running by Iwakuma, Chris Tillman (Orioles), Koji Uehara (Red Sox), Mike Minor (Braves), Travis Wood (Cubs), Patrick Corbin (D-backs) and Andrew Cashner (Padres).
Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 2013 GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year's GIBBY Awards feature nominees in 22 categories. Individual honors will go to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year's best starting pitcher, hitter, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout hitter, breakout pitcher, comeback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason performer.
GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's top play, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, Cut4 topic, regular-season moment and postseason moment, from MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
In the past five years, fans have cast more than 50 million votes across the various GIBBY categories, none of which was restricted to individual League affiliation. Fan voting runs through Dec. 1.
Winners will be presented their GIBBY trophies at the MLB.com Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards extravaganza during the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
Aside from Harvey's three nominations for his dominance on the mound, Lagares will hope to take home some hardware for his excellence in the field. The 24-year-old rookie is nominated for best defensive player, as well as for the top defensive play.
Less than three weeks after making his April 23 Major League debut, Lagares on May 12 robbed Pirates pitcher Jeanmar Gomez of a base hit with a bobbling, shoestring catch at Citi Field. Charging the sinking line drive, Lagares reached down to snag the ball off his shoetops before having the ball briefly pop back out of his glove, only for Lagares to once again corral it while diving forward.
Though itself unusual, that catch has nothing in terms of strange plays on the Mets' final two nominations.
New York's first nomination for top oddity came on Daniel Murphy's bizarre May 16 ground-rule double. Facing Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, Murphy lined a ball deep into the right-field corner, where it seemingly disappeared into the right-field wall. As it turns out, the ball snuck directly between two sections of panels on the Busch Stadium wall, leaving Murphy with the unlikely ground-rule double.
"I told [umpire] Mike Winters at second, 'If you can't see it, it should be a homer,'" Murphy joked after that game. "He disagreed."
While the GIBBY Awards will embrace and celebrate the quirks of the game, they also aim to honor the best the sport has to offer -- something Mets manager Terry Collins believes he has in his staff ace. Though Harvey will miss the entire 2014 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, the Mets organization and fans will be eager to see him return to the mound when the time comes. For now, those fans will be limited to casting their votes for Harvey in his three eligible categories.
"He is bound and determined to be the best," Collins said of Harvey, earlier this season."That's all he ever talks about."