LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A Pirates season that saw a long postseason drought come to an end and a new tradition of boisterous blackout conditions at PNC Park begin has been honored as the best in all of baseball.
The Pirates' stirring 2013 campaign was named Storyline of the Year at the 2013 Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards, one of three GIBBYs presented to the organization Tuesday at the Winter Meetings.
Left-hander Francisco Liriano earned Comeback of the Year honors and reliever Mark Melancon won Setup Man of the Year, based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
By putting together a winning season and reaching the postseason for the first time since 1992, bringing electricity to their beautiful riverfront ballpark, the Bucs' resurgence rose above all other narratives.
The Pirates' road to October became the choice for Storyline of the Year over such events as the rebound of the Red Sox, the Dodgers' rise to the top of the National League West and the farewell tour of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.
Going 94-68 for a 15-game improvement over the previous season, the Pirates won 90 games for the first time since 1990-92. With NL Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen leading the way, the Pirates battled the Cardinals and Reds down to the final week of the season in an NL Central race that proved to be baseball's best. They ultimately won the top NL Wild Card spot before dropping a five-game Division Series to the Cardinals.
The Pirates were led by NL Manager of the Year Clint Hurdle, who was also nominated for a GIBBY -- one of the club's 11 nominations.
Liriano, named NL Comeback Player of the Year in the Players' Choice Awards, won the GIBBY for Comeback Player over Rivera, who was the AL winner in the Players' Choice Awards. A year after posting a 6-12 record with a 5.34 ERA in 28 starts, Liriano emerged as the ace of the Bucs' rotation, going 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA in 26 starts.
In earning the Setup Man honor, Melancon set a club record for lowest relief ERA at 1.39 (50 or more innings), which included a detour as closer while Jason Grilli was out with a forearm injury. He especially thrived as Grilli's eighth-inning guy, posting a 1.00 ERA in 36 eighth-inning appearances, with no home runs allowed in 130 at-bats.
More than 10 million votes were cast for this year's GIBBY Awards. Trophies were also handed out for MLB MVP (Miguel Cabrera, Tigers), Starting Pitcher (Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers), Hitter (Cabrera), Closer (Craig Kimbrel, Braves), Rookie (Jose Fernandez, Marlins), Breakout Hitter (Chris Davis, Orioles), Breakout Pitcher (Matt Harvey, Mets), Defensive Player (Yadier Molina, Cardinals), Manager (John Farrell, Red Sox), Executive (Ben Cherington, Red Sox) and Postseason Performer (David Ortiz, Red Sox).
Additional hardware was distributed for the best Play (Manny Machado, Orioles), Hitting Performance (Mike Trout, Angels), Pitching Performance (Tim Lincecum, Giants), Oddity (Todd Helton, Rockies), Walk-off (Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins), Cut4 Topic (Munenori Kawasaki, Blue Jays), Moment (Boston Strong) and Postseason Moment (Allen Craig, Cardinals), with video available via MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
All 30 clubs were represented among the award candidates. In fact, every team had multiple nominees in 2013 -- a testament to the parity of talent around the game.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.