The Venezuela native earned a trip to his first All-Star game this season, becoming the first Indians shortstop to start the Midsummer Classic since Lou Boudreau in 1948. Cabrera hit .273 with 25 home runs and 92 RBIs in 151 games, often battling through nagging injuries to carry the Indians. As a result, the club finished 80-82, an 11-game improvement over the 2010 campaign.
As the injuries deralied many of his teammates' seasons, Cabrera stayed in the middle of the Tribe infield and at the heart of manager Manny Acta's batting order.
"That's what I've tried to do all year," Cabrera said, "be in the lineup and try to help my team and do the best I can do for the team."
Cabrera slugged more home runs than he had hit in his first four seasons combined. Yet, his defense always seemed to stick out.
In an 8-2 loss to the White Sox on May 19, Cabrera started a double play with a diving, barehanded stop and behind-the-back dish to second baseman Adam Everett.
On June 19, Tribe fans witnessed more defensive wizardry from the All-Star shortstop. In a 2-2 tie in the top of the 10th inning, Pirates third baseman Brandon Wood hit a ball deep in the hole at short, where Cabrera corralled it with his bare hand before firing an off-balance throw to first to record the out.
"Half of the dugout was yelling, 'Best play ever,'" Acta said. "Some guys were like, 'Slow down, we've seen some other ones, Ozzie Smith and all that.' But it was unbelievable. All the way, he was thinking bare hand. He never thought about using his glove, and then the throw was even better.
"That was the first time I've seen something like that."
Cabrera was not the only member of the Tribe to earn a GIBBY nomination. Pitcher Justin Masterson is one of eight Major Leaguers up for the breakout player trophy.
Masterson was the Indians' ace, providing the club with consistency -- even when his offense did not return the favor. The wiry right-hander's 3.21 ERA and 216 innings pitched better demonstrate his productivity than his 12-10 record.
In an 11-start winless streak from May 1-June 25, Masterson went 0-6 despite posting a 3.34 ERA and hurling more than seven innings per outing. Still, his 12 victories doubled his previous career high, set in 2010, when he went 6-13 with a 4.70 ERA.
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 9-11 p.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.com.