It’s hard to believe 2015 is over.
Starting with Boise State’s win over Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale (technically Dec. 31) and ending with the Coyotes hosting the Winnipeg Jets on New Year’s Eve across the street at Gila River Arena, 2015 was chock full of memorable (and some not so memorable) moments.
This year, we asked the listeners of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM and the readers of ArizonaSports.com to participate in crowning the best the Grand Canyon State had to offer, and you’ve let your voices be heard!
Here are the results for The 2015 Zonies:
Arizona Athlete of the Year
While the staff of Arizona Sports named Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer as the winner in this category, the fans had a different opinion, naming Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Goldschmidt had a tremendous season for the upstart D-backs, leading the team with a .321 average, a .435 on-base percentage, 33 home runs and 110 RBI. He ranked among the top five in the National League in all four categories. Goldschmidt played in his third All-Star Game, garnering enough votes to start for the NL team in Cincinnati. At season’s end, the 28-year-old was honored by winning a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and finishing second in the National League MVP voting.
Results: Goldschmidt (47.32%), Carson Palmer (34.23%), Tyrann Mathieu (6.85%), Larry Fitzgerald (2.98%)
Others receiving votes (in order): Patrick Peterson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, T.J. McConnell, Antonio Longino, Stanley Johnson, A.J. Pollock, Marvin Bagley III, David Johnson, Jeremy Kellem
Arizona Coach of the Year
There wasn’t a whole lot of debate on this one; Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians ran away with this award.
The third-year head coach, and reigning NFL Coach of the Year, guided the Cardinals to new franchise heights in 2015. Under his watch, Arizona is 13-2 heading into their regular-season finale against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. The 13 wins are a franchise record and the Cardinals have earned a first-round bye in the playoffs for the first time in team history.
In Arians’ three years on the job, the Cardinals have improved from 10 wins in 2013, to 11 in 2014 to 13 (and maybe) more this season. Not only is he getting the job done between the white lines, but Arians has become a fan and media favorite for his sense of humor and blunt nature.
Results: Arians (90.49%), Chip Hale (4.03%), Sean Miller (2.31%)
Others receiving votes: Todd Graham, Dave Tippett, Jeff Hornacek, Dan Majerle, Kevin Guy
Arizona Sports Executive of the Year
Bruce Arians certainly has played a huge role in transforming the Cardinals from a 5-win team to Super Bowl contenders in just three years.
But Arians has had help — a lot of it — coming from the front office. For that reason, Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim is the 2015 Arizona Sports Executive of the Year.
Keim continued his track record of finding steals in the draft (David Johnson, J.J. Nelson, Markus Golden) and bringing in bargain-priced veteran free agents (Chris Johnson, Dwight Freeney). He’s been armed with the power to craft the Cardinals roster as he sees fit, and quite frankly, he’s knocked it out of the park.
Results: Keim (75.52%), Tony La Russa (15.93%), Dave Stewart (3.24%), Ray Anderson (2.36%)
Others receiving votes: Don Maloney, Greg Byrne, Ryan McDonough
Arizona Sports Rookie of the Year
Not much was known about David Johnson last April. A player with a common name from an uncommon college program (Northern Iowa), Johnson was selected in the third round (86th overall) by the Cardinals, and he immediately made his presence felt. The rookie visited the end zone on his first offensive touch, taking a swing pass from Carson Palmer 55 yards for a touchdown in a season-opening win over the New Orleans Saints. The next week, Johnson returned the opening kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown in a win over the Chicago Bears, tying an NFL record in the process.
Despite playing only 36 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, Johnson has scored 13 touchdowns, which is tied for the second-most in the NFL. His versatility has Cardinals fans excited for a very bright future for years to come.
Results: Johnson (70.7%), Max Domi (21.97%), Robbie Ray (1.91%)
Others receiving votes: Zack Godley, Yasmany Tomas, Markus Golden, J.J. Nelson, Rodney Gunter, Devin Booker
Arizona Sports Newcomer (Non-rookie) of the Year
In a bit of a suprise, D-backs catcher Welington Castillo took home this category.
Acquired as somewhat of an afterthought in a June trade with the Mariners that sent Mark Trumbo to Seattle, Castillo may have finally found a long-term home with the D-backs.
The 28-year-old Dominican native clubbed 17 home runs and drove in 50 runs in just 303 plate appearances for the D-backs. In his first two months with the team, Castillo was one of the best offensive catchers in baseball.
Results: Castillo (30.42%), Mike Iupati (29.01%), Dwight Freeney (13.52%)
Others receiving votes: Anthony Duclair, Brandon Knight, Rubby De La Rosa, Jon Leuer, Chris Johnson, Mirza Teletovic, Tyson Chandler
Arizona Game of the Year
Teams fear going to CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Seahawks fans are crazy passionate, decked out in College Navy, Action Green and Wolf Grey (yes, those are there official colors) and they’re loud. Really loud.
Combine those factors with a really good football team, and the fact is, the Seahawks don’t lose often at home.
None of that fazed the Arizona Cardinals on November 15. Carson Palmer threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns and Arizona held off a furious second-half charge by the Seahawks in a 39-32 win on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
It was the Cardinals’ second win in Seattle in three years.
Results: Cardinals beat Seattle at CenturyLink Field (70.12%), ASU beats nationally-ranked Arizona in college basketball (13.61%), Oregon outscores ASU 56-55 in double overtime in Tempe (9.47%)
Others receiving votes: Arizona upsets Utah in double overtime, Suns outlast Russell Westbrook and Thunder in OT, SaberCats beat Rattlers in controversial National Conference Championship Game
- Report: Giants hiring former Cardinals DC James Bettcher for same position
- Cardinals staff turnover already taking shape under coach Steve Wilks
- Arizona Cardinals hire ‘a great leader’ in Steve Wilks
- Keim: Wilks’ defensive pedigree won’t deter development, success of QBs
- President Michael Bidwill is confident in the Cardinals’ future