Tigers scribes announce 2011 awards
Justin Verlander wins fifth DIBS award
The Detroit Independent Baseball Scribes (DIBS) are back at it again. Established in 2005, the ever-growing group of Internet-based baseball writers honors Detroit Tigers players through a list of traditional and wacky awards each offseason. This year, DIBS sent out a record number of ballots for a record-number of categories, as suggested by DIBS members each year. Twenty-two voters from 17 different sites voted on nine different categories.
Justin Verlander earned the title of Most Valuable Tiger, giving him his fifth DIBS victory. Earlier in his career, he was named 2010’s Best Pitching Face, 2009’s Tigers Pitcher of the Year, 2007’s Tigers Pitcher of the Year and 2006’s Breakout Player of the Year. (DIBS did not vote in 2008, although Verlander would have undoubtedly won for something.)
First-time winners in 2011 include Al Alburquerque (Best Rookie), Alex Avila (Best Hair), Victor Martinez (Best Victor Martinez) and Ramon Santiago, who earned DIBS’ inaugural Best Roleplayer victory.
DIBS also fondly remembered Austin Jackson’s double-play against the Indians as 2011’s Best Moment, but had a three-way tie in 2011’s Goofiest Moment.
Most Valuable Tiger — Justin Verlander
With AL Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player victories, Verlander has a cupboard full of hardware already for his 2011 season. Unsurprisingly, he added another laurel after receiving 15 of 22 votes. Miguel Cabrera, Justgruel Cabrander, Alex Avila and Victor Martinez also received votes, but Verlander put in a season that won’t soon be forgotten.
Best Rookie — Al Alburquerque
When Alburquerque was signed during the last offseason and immediately put on the 40-man roster, a lot of people thought, “I know he’s got a cool name, but aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves?” When he started using his slider-fastball combination to rack up strikeout after strikeout, he quickly became a fan favorite. In fact, he played so well it was hard to remember there were other rookies. (Andy Dirks, Duane Below and Adam Wilk may have been the chief contenders for the award.)
Best Role Player — Ramon Santiago
Recently, another group of voters named Don Kelly as the Tigers “10th man.” DIBS tackled the same question, but came up with a better answer: Ramon Santiago. It feels like he’s been a Tiger forever, but he has really come into his own during the past three years as a valuable member of the middle infield. Don Kelly, Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit and Alex Avila also received votes.
Best Moment — Austin Jackson’s double-play throw to defeat the Indians on Aug. 21
This was a season with many great memories, including the team’s first division title since 1987 and another AL Division Series victory over the Yankees. But the wise voters of DIBS remembered that before all that could occur, the Tigers had to dismiss Cleveland from the equation. On Aug. 21, the Tigers did just that when Austin Jackson caught a fly ball and threw out Kosuke Fukudome at home plate to end the game, 8-7, and secure a sweep of the Tribe. Other favorite moments include Victor Jose Martinez’s “Vote for my Dad” All-Star press conference and the ALDS victory over New York.
Team Clown — Phil Coke
It didn’t take Phil Coke’s Brain to figure out who would win this award. Although Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera also received votes for their off-field shenanigans, Coke’s genuine goofiness won over almost half of DIBS’ voters. However, Verlander’s ode to Bert Blyleven, giving Don Kelly the hot foot, helped him cruise to a second-place finish.
Best Hair — Alex Avila
Avila could shave before the first inning and sport a full beard by the third. His 5 o’clock shadow begins at midnight. He was the clear winner in a category that featured a plethora of responses. Runners-up included Justin Verlander’s arms, Jim Leyland’s mustache, Daniel Schlereth’s mullet-beard combo and Miguel Cabrera’s mohawk. Will Rhymes, Brennan Boesch and Brayan Villarreal also received votes.
Tiger Organization Name of the Year — Doug Fister
DIBS voters liked the double-entendre that was Doug Fister. In a close vote, he snuck past Deik Scram and Al Alburquerque. Other well-named Tigers included Montreal Robertson of the Connecticut Tigers, former Tigers Casper Wells and Charlie Furbush, Wilson Betemit and Justin Verlander.
Goofiest Moment — 3 way tie
Any 162-game season is going to be filled with plenty of heartbreak and plenty of fun. This one was no different. In fact, voters came up with so many suggestions for this award that we had a three-way tie at four votes and a couple more with two votes. The tie featured Alex Avila’s catchers mask throwing off sparks after being hit; Andy Dirks sprinting around the bases for an in-the-park home run despite the ball being caught, and Jim Leyland’s pantomime argument with the ump; and Verlander’s lighting Don Kelly’s shoe on fire. Other receiving multiple votes included Justin Verlander’s awkward balk against Oakland, Don Kelly pitching, Ryan Raburn’s attempt to catch a fly ball resulting in a home run, and Victor Martinez dancing around home plate.
Best Victor Martinez — Sr.
When the Tigers signed “Victor Martinez,” they actually got two Victor Martinezes for their money. Although young Victor Jose Martinez may win the award for cutest Tiger, he father edged him in voting for the best Victor Martinez, 12-9, with one vote for both. Senior’s major league contributions give him the edge for now, but the smart money is on Victor Jose in the long run.
List of voting 2011 DIBS voting members in no particular order:
● Roar of the Tigers — Samara Pearlstein
●Motor City Bengals — John Parent
● Tiger Tales — Lee Panas
● Phil Coke’s Brain Matters — Anonymous
● April in The D — Laura, Megan and Rosie
● Fire Gerald Laird — Greg Papke
● Tigers Amateur Analysis — Erin Saelzler
● Where have you gone, Johnny Grubb? — Greg Eno
● Detroit Tigers Scorecard — Austin Drake
● Detroit Tigers Weblog — Kevin Vela
● DesigNate Robertson — Scott Rogowski
● Deetown Tigers — Skip
● Detroit Jock City — Zac Snyder
● Bless You Boys — David Tokarz, Matt Wallace, Al Beaton, Kurt Mensching and Alli Hagen
● Mlive’s Tigers coverage — Matt Sussman, James Schmehl, Ian Casselberry
● Old English D — Jen Cosey
Note: Casselberry also writes for SB Nation Detroit.