Because he was the best at generating runs for a team at times desperate for offense, Matt Holliday is my choice for 2014 Cardinals Player of the Year.
The United Cardinal Bloggers group annually asks members to cast ballots for a series of postseason Cardinals awards. Here are my 2014 selections:
Player of the Year: Matt Holliday
The left fielder led the 2014 Cardinals in key run-producing categories such as RBI (90) and total bases (253) and was second in runs scored (83).
Without Holliday, the Cardinals likely would not have been able to achieve 90 wins for the second consecutive season and earn a National League Central Division title. With 585 RBI and 619 runs, the Cardinals ranked below the league averages (607 RBI) and (640 runs) in those two categories. Holliday kept them competitive.
Holliday also ranked second on the Cardinals in hits (156), doubles (37), home runs (20) and walks (74).
His .370 on-base percentage ranked well above the team average of .327 for non-pitchers.
Pitcher of the Year: Adam Wainwright
The right-hander was the ace of the 2014 Cardinals, leading the club in wins (20), innings pitched (227.1), complete games (five) and shutouts (three).
In 2014, Wainwright had the lowest ERA (1.83) before the All-Star Game break for a Cardinals starting pitcher since Steve Carlton (1.65) in 1969.
Wainwright in 2014 became the first big-leaguer to have nine of his first 18 starts of a season be scoreless efforts of seven or more innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Game of the Year: Game 1 of National League Division Series
The Cardinals scored eight runs in the seventh, erasing a 6-2 deficit, and withstood a Dodgers rally in the last two innings to win, 10-9, on Oct. 3, 2014, at Los Angeles. The stunning outburst against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw set the tone for the series and gave the Cardinals momentum.
Left-handed batters hit .193 versus Kershaw in the regular season. Cardinals left-handed batters, though, pummeled Kershaw in Game 1 of the Division Series. In the seventh, Matt Adams and Jon Jay produced RBI-singles. Matt Carpenter, who had homered off Kershaw in the sixth, hit a three-run double against him in the seventh. Right-handed batter Matt Holliday capped the comeback with a three-run home run off reliever Pedro Baez. Boxscore
Surprising Player of the Year: Pat Neshek
Signed by the Cardinals at the start of spring training, Neshek initially was considered a longshot to make the team. Instead, he developed into a consistently reliable reliever. Neshek, 34, produced six saves for the 2014 Cardinals after having none in seven previous big-league seasons. The right-hander was 7-2 with a 1.87 ERA in 71 games. Right-handed batters hit .176 against him.
Disappointing Player of the Year: Peter Bourjos
After being acquired from the Angels, Bourjos was expected to ignite the Cardinals’ offense with his speed and provide consistent play in center field. Instead, he struggled to hit. Bourjos had more strikeouts (78) than hits (61) for the 2014 Cardinals. The right-handed batter hit .194 against left-handed pitching.
Cardinals Rookie of the Year: Kolten Wong
The second baseman recovered from a deep slump in June and finished the season with 12 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
Wong is the fourth Cardinals rookie to reach double figures in home runs and stolen bases in a season, joining Wally Moon (1954), Ken Boyer (1955) and J.D. Drew (1999).
Wong also became the first Cardinals second baseman to hit five home runs over a seven-game span since Frankie Frisch achieved the feat in July 1930, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Acquistion of the Year: Jhonny Peralta
The shortstop provided steady defense and power. Signed as a free agent after an American League career with the Indians and Tigers, Peralta led the 2014 Cardinals in home runs (21) and doubles (38). He ranked second on the club in RBI (75), total bases (248) and slugging percentage (.443).
Most Anticipated Cardinal: Stephen Piscotty
Poised, smart and consistent, the right fielder hit .288 with 32 doubles and 144 hits in 136 games for Class AAA Memphis in 2014. Piscotty committed just three errors in 113 games in right field.
Cardinals Moment of the Year: Matt Adams in Game 4 of Division Series
The Dodgers led, 2-0, after six innings behind Kershaw in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Oct. 7, 2014, at St. Louis. A Dodgers win would shift the series to Los Angeles for a winner-takes-all Game 5.
Kershaw appeared dominant. He had struck out the side in the sixth and he had held the Cardinals to one hit, a Randal Grichuk single in the fourth.
Then, in the seventh, magic happened for the Cardinals. Holliday and Peralta singled. Adams, who had hit .190 against left-handers during the season, followed with a three-run home run. The big first baseman did a jubilant dance along the first-base line as Cardinals fans roared.
The stunning blast carried the Cardinals to a 3-2 victory, earned them a spot in the National League Championship Series for the fourth consecutive year and symbolized the persistence of a franchise that continues to find ways to excel. Boxscore
No blogger votes
The United Cardinal Bloggers ballot also offers opportunities to vote for several best blogger categories. I’m choosing not to vote in those categories; rather I encourage Cardinals blogging colleagues to keep writing and posting and just enjoy the experiences.