Ellsbury, Sox can swipe TYIB Awards

Ellsbury, Sox can swipe TYIB Awards

BOSTON -- Anyone who was at Fenway Park the night of April 26 will remember the flash of white uniform dashing down the third-base line. It caught nearly everyone in attendance -- most of all, Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte -- by surprise. That was the stunning sight of Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home against New York on Sunday Night Baseball.

Pettitte worked out of a full windup and Ellsbury never hesitated, diving in head first in the bottom of the fifth inning. That signature play could quite possibly be recognized as the top moment in MLB.com's annual This Year in Baseball Awards.

The ballot boxes will close at 7:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 11. In 2008, a record 12 million votes were cast for the TYIB Awards, and that figure could be surpassed this time around as fans weigh in on the year's top hitter, pitcher, moments and more. The results of the voting will be revealed during the week of Dec. 14-18.

There are nine other compelling moments Ellsbury will contend with, including Alexi Casilla's walk-off homer that put the Twins in the postseason, Derek Jeter passing Lou Gehrig as the Yankees' all-time hit king and the Angels' poignant tribute to the late Nick Adenhart the night they clinched the American League West title.

In fact, Ellsbury is in line for two TYIB Awards. He could also bring home Defensive Player of the Year honors, backed by a .994 fielding percentage and 357 putouts. Some of the other leading contenders for that award are Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies and Torii Hunter of the Angels.

Voting for the TYIB Awards on MLB.com ends on Dec. 11, giving all of Red Sox Nation time to cast ballots for Ellsbury and other Boston players who are in the running for awards.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon, who posted a 1.85 ERA and notched 37 saves this season, is battling Mariano Rivera for Closer of the Year. Papelbon was a TYIB winner in that category in 2007.

Lefty Jon Lester, who had a glittering final four months after a slugging opening, is one of the nominees for Starter of the Year. However, Lester will face a tall order in defeating the two Cy Young Award winners from this season, Zach Greinke of the Royals and the Giants' Tim Lincecum. In 2008, Lester won a TYIB Award for top performance -- his no-hitter against the Royals.

As seems to be the case every season, Theo Epstein made a blockbuster deal at the Trade Deadline, one that propelled the Red Sox to the postseason for the sixth time in his seven-year regime. This year's catch was Victor Martinez. Epstein also supplemented his team's run to October by landing Billy Wagner from the Mets and Alex Gonzalez from the Reds. Will those moves help Epstein's case for Executive of the Year? The other top contenders are the two GMs whose teams were in the World Series -- Brian Cashman of the Yankees and the Phillies' Ruben Amaro Jr.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who got 95-plus wins out of his team for the fifth time in his six years at the help, has been nominated for Manager of the Year. His top competitors are Ron Gardenhire (Twins), Charlie Manuel (Phillies) and Joe Girardi (Yankees).

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.