2013 Burning River Awards

Finally, the award show that all of Cleveland can't wait for every year, it's the Burning River Awards, where we at Burning River Baseball will recognize the best of the Tribe in 2013.

"The Lee Award" for Most Improved Player – Scott Kazmir
Kazmir is the most apt player to win this award (in it's storied three year history), coming back from Independent League baseball to become an above average starting pitching in Major League Baseball. From 2011 through 2012, Kazmir threw just 1.2 innings in Major League Baseball for the Angels. With no expectations coming into this year after coming into Spring Training as an invitee on a minor league contract, Kazmir won the fifth starter job and didn't slow down. He threw 158 innings and made 29 starts with an ERA of 4.04, truly amazing for a pitcher who hasn't thrown professionally in two years.

In any other season, Ubaldo Jimenez would have won this award, but going from not pitching to being an average pitcher beats out an average pitcher becoming a great one.

2012 Winner – Shin-Soo Choo
2011 Winner – Justin Masterson

"The Super Joe" Rookie of the Year Award – Cody Allen
The 2013 Indians featured two amazing rookies, but Allen was the best, mostly because he was treated like a veteran reliever, while Danny Salazar was brought up slowly, keeping on low pitch counts until the very end of the season. Salazar also joined the team late and pitched less total innings than Allen, although he was arguably more dominant in those innings. No pitcher in recent history has risen to the top as fast as Allen, who was just drafted in 2011 and is already in discussions to be Cleveland's closer in 2014.

2012 Winner – Zach McAllister
2011 Winner – Vinnie Pestano

"The Steve Olin Memorial Award" for Best Reliever – Cody Allen
Allen threw in more games than any other pitcher this year (and all but one ever in Indians history) and was great in almost all of them. With the bullpen expecting to be a positive this year, Allen was supposed to be just another early reliever. When things didn't go quite as planned, Allen took over Vinnie Pestano's set-up man position, with Joe Smith taking over the eighth and Allen usually pitching the seventh. His 2.43 ERA was second to only Smith, but his 88 strike outs in 70.1 innings more than made up for that. Smith himself was a very close second for the award after leading the team in holds and ERA.

2012 Winner – Vinnie Pestano
2011 Winner – Joe Smith

"The Big O" for Most Outstanding Defender – Michael Brantley
This was a difficult choice this season as the Indians had many above average defenders (inlcuding Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs), but only two players stood out above the rest: Yan Gomes and this year's winner, Michael Brantley. Both Gomes and Brantley were responsible for many unexpected outs. Brantley did this with diving catches and a team leading 11 assists, while Gomes caught 41% of attempted stealers with an overall fielding percent of .996. While catching is more difficult than playing outfield, Gomes didn't take over the starting role until the second half and nothing can beat 100%, which was the amount of plays Brantley completed successfully this year. This is Brantley's second straight season leading the team in fielding percent and his second strait "Big O".

2012 Winner – Michael Brantley
2011 Winner – Jack Hannahan

"The Golden Belle" for Most Outstanding Hitter – Jason Kipnis
Jason Giambi may have had the most walk-off hits, but it was Kipnis who lead the team day in and day out. Kipnis lead the team in runs, RBI and steals. The Indians had three hitters worthy of consideration for this award including Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley, but none provided the combination of average, power and speed that the Indians' second baseman brought to the three hole.

2012 Winner – Shin-Soo Choo
2011 Winner – Asdrubal Cabrera

"The Addie" for Best Overall Pitcher – Justin Masterson
An injury late in the year made this race closer than it should have been, but Masterson still lead all Indians in innings pitched, wins and strike outs. The Indians ace also had three shut outs in 2013, giving him four in his career as an Indian, the most by any Tribe starter since C.C. Sabathia who had seven. Especially early in the year, every game Masterson took the mound the Indians thought they would win and they usually did. Despite missing all of September with an oblique injury, he still made 29 starts and rushed back as soon as possible to help the Indians in a relief role.

2012 Winner – Vinnie Pestano
2011 Winner – Justin Masterson

"The Rose Award" for Best Overall Player – Jason Kipnis
This was a tough race until the beginning of September, when Masterson dropped out due to injury and basically handed it to Kipnis. Not only was Kipnis the top offensive player as already detailed above, but he is a solid defensive presence at a very important position. The Indians have had very few great second basemen in franchise history (despite having the greatest ever) and it is very exciting to have a player as great as Kipnis that will be around for a long time still.

2012 Winner – Jason Kipnis
2011 Winner – Asdrubal Cabrera

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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