Trio of Mariners garner GIBBY nominations

Trio of Mariners garner GIBBY nominations

Trio of Mariners garner GIBBY nominations
SEATTLE -- The Mariners had a difficult 2011 season in which priorities turned to rebuilding and working toward a future return to prominence in the American League West. But that doesn't mean they didn't witness special performances by key players.

Staff ace Felix Hernandez and rookie sensations Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley were bright spots in the Pacific Northwest, and they've been honored with nominations for the 2011 GIBBYs.

Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home GIBBYs trophies -- the ultimate honors of baseball's awards season -- based on votes by you the fans at MLB.com, media, front-office personnel and MLB alumni.

The 2011 GIBBYs feature nominees in 19 categories.

Individual honors will go to the top everyday player, starting pitcher, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout player, comeback player, defensive player, wow factor, manager, executive and postseason performer.

GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's best play, moment, performance, oddity, walk-off, fan moment and postseason moment from MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.

Fan voting ends Dec. 4, and you can vote up to 25 times per category. Winners will be announced Dec. 16 from 6-8 p.m. PT on MLB Network and MLB.com.

Not surprisingly, when it comes to the Mariners, it was the defending AL Cy Young Award winner, Hernandez, who once again tabbed a mention in the Starting Pitcher category.

While it might not have been King Felix's crowning achievement, his 2011 campaign was one of trademark durability and dependability. Meanwhile, freshman phenoms Pineda and Ackley both rated nominations in the Rookie category.

Hernandez's body of work for the season included a 14-14 record and 3.47 ERA, making him the first pitcher in franchise history with three seasons with at least 30 starts, 200 strikeouts (222 in 2011), 200 innings (233 2/3 in 2011) and an ERA under 3.50. It was Hernandez's fourth straight season with 200-plus innings.

"It means a lot," Hernandez said of his innings totals. "I try to throw a lot of innings, and I want to help my team. The only goal I have every season is just stay healthy. If I do that, I can throw a lot of innings."

The Mariners eventually plan to reap the same benefits from Pineda.

The 6-foot-7 right-hander finished his first big league season with a 9-10 record, but he was a lot more impressive than that tally indicates. While the Mariners took it easy on him in the final two months to preserve his arm, he still led AL rookie starters in strikeouts (173), was second in innings pitched (171), and finished fourth in ERA (3.74).

For a 22-year-old who rocketed through the Seattle farm system, it was an eye-opening season by all accounts -- and an educational experience for the youngster.

"It's a long season, but I worked hard every day for my body and everything," Pineda said. "I felt good and strong because I want to help my team win and get in the playoffs. Next year, I want to pitch in October in the playoffs."

Ackley, meanwhile, has only three months of Major League time on his resume, all of them at the new position of second base, but the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft appears to have the talent and poise of a veteran.

After arriving in Seattle on June 16, he was one of the Mariners' most consistent hitters. Ackley batted .273 and led Seattle with seven triples, which ranked second among AL rookies.

"As far as playing goes, I feel like I've handled everything pretty well," Ackley said. "I've had my ups and downs and learned a lot. Overall, I've been pretty happy with how I've been."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB and read his MLBlog, Youneverknow. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.