Cubs' Castro, Dempster earn GIBBY nods

Cubs' Castro, Dempster earn GIBBY nods

Cubs' Castro, Dempster earn GIBBY nods
CHICAGO -- There are some hitters whose at-bats you don't want to miss. Starlin Castro is one of those players.

The Cubs' shortstop doesn't launch balls over the left-field bleachers and onto Waveland Avenue at Wrigley Field on a regular basis. But Castro does hit, and he did that more than any other player in the National League this past season.

"That kid shortstop is amazing," new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said of Castro. "Amazing player, very good player -- you don't see any kid that young with that much comfort at the plate. This kid has a great chance to be a great player."

Castro is among the nominees for the "WOW Factor" category in the annual Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Awards, which fans can vote for on MLB.com the day after the completion of the World Series.

The Cubs shortstop joins the Phillies' Shane Victorino, the Mets' Jose Reyes, the Yankees' Robinson Cano, the Braves' Mike Stanton and the Indians' Asdrubal Cabrera in the "WOW" classification.

Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster's imitation of Harry Caray also is a GIBBY nominee in the oddity category. Dempster, who channeled his inner Caray during a Cubs-Yankees broadcast, discussed Derek Jeter's 3,000 hit milestone as only the late Cubs broadcaster would.

Castro began the season as the youngest player in the Major Leagues, and in his first full year in the big leagues he led the NL and ranked fourth overall with 207 hits. At 21, he was the youngest player to lead the NL in hits. Castro also was the youngest player in franchise history to be named to an All-Star Game.

Yet he hit like someone who has been in the game for years. Castro had five hitting streaks of at least 10 games, and he finished the season with a streak of reaching base safely in 40 consecutive games. He finished with 57 multihit games, tied for the NL lead with three others, and led the league in at-bats.

"It's rare, because he's doing this at such a young age," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "He keeps an even keel about it, and that's important, too. He's proud of his performance, but this game will humble you, too. He starts getting too relaxed work-wise and some of the stuff will go away. The good news is he will not."

What Castro does need to improve upon is his defense -- he led all Major League shortstops with 29 errors. He has been known to botch a throw, yet he can scramble and track balls and fire a strike to first off balance that makes you gasp and wonder, "How did he do that?"

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 8-10 p.m. CT on MLB Network and MLB.com.

Since Castro's first Major League at-bat May 7, 2010 -- when he hit a three-run homer in Cincinnati -- to the end of this season, he has provided plenty of excitement.

"The sky's the limit for a kid like that," teammate Carlos Pena said of Castro. "I love his makeup, the way he thinks -- he's way beyond his years. He's very mature, very humble and has a very bright future."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.