It’s that time of year. The time when reporters, team officials and league officials get together over a three-course meal and some drinks and have a lengthy chat about the 2012 selections of the best players position by position. Ok, it doesn’t really go like that. But the ballot was recently sent to everyone to fill out. And since I’m taking the time out to make my selections, I figured why not share them with the rest of you?
Feel free to comment below if you agree/disagree and who you might select. And please note that all numbers used in this entry are through Wednesday, Sept. 19.
CATCHER: Emerson Frostad, Lancaster
This position is always tough since most teams have two catchers that split the duties behind the plate throughout the year. As a result, it seems like mostly everyone’s numbers are about the same. Still, when a catcher has a batting average close to .300 in the Atlantic League it’s hard not to choose him for this spot. Thus, Frostad’s .299 average, seven homers and 35 RBIs are enough to sway my vote. Camden’s Raul Padron deserves an honorable mention here since he’s tops in RBIs among catchers (43) and second in homers (10) and is batting .270. He would have been my other pick if not for Frostad.
FIRST BASE: Chris Nowak, York Revolution
This might have been the most obvious selection among the positions. And though I’m trying hard not to be a homer here, Nowak is still far and away the top first baseman in the league this year – lets just ignore the fact that he’s been playing third the last few weeks or so since Ramon Castro got booted from the team. Anyway, Nowak has MVP-candidate numbers and is the biggest force in the Revs’ lineup. He’s already set club records this year in homers (34) and RBIs (104) despite a batting average of .279. He also has 25 doubles, 79 runs and nine stolen bases. It’s also pretty remarkable that nearly half (47.6 percent) of his 126 hits this year are for extra bases.
SECOND BASE: Andres Perez, York Revolution
If not for Nowak, we’d likely be talking about Andres Perez being the Revs’ best position player this season. No matter, he does MVP-like numbers, even though he might be on the fringe of players being considered for the award. Career-highs in batting average (.321), homers (23) and RBIs (85) – all of which rank near the top in the league – plus the fact he has made a ton of improvement throughout the year after making the switch from outfield to second base makes Perez an easy choice here.
SHORT STOP: Eddie Rogers, Bridgeport Bluefish
This is definitely one of the toughest selections of the bunch, coming down to Rogers and York’s Joe Thurston. I ultimately went with the Rogers for the mere fact he’s played in 128 games to Thurston’s 54 games. Thurston leads all short stops with a .311 batting average. Both Thurston and Rogers are tied in homers (8). And Rogers leads all short stops with 67 RBIs. Still, if you calculate out the number of RBIs Thurston would have had in 128 games, he would be on par with Rogers. If you do the same to Thurston’s homers, he would have double the amount of Rogers’ total. This is really a coin flip. But in the end I gotta give it to a guy who played more than double the amount of games Thurston has played in this season.
THIRD BASE: Bryant Nelson, Long Island
Some might think this is a “homer” pick because Nelson played for York last year – and had a couple big hits in the playoffs. But really this is another tough one. For me, it came down to Nelson, Lancaster’s Kody Kirkland and Sugar Land’s Ofilio Castro. Castro leads all third basemen with a .302 average but has just three homers, which is the least among players at that position. Castro (54 RBIs) and Kirkland (53 RBIs) are the same in runs batted in, while Nelson leads third basemen with 78 RBIs. Nelson also leads players at that position in runs scored (72), ahead of Castro (63) and Kirkland (51). Castro’s lack of power knocked him out of this race. Kirkland (.264) and Nelson (.267) are about the same in batting average, while Kirkland leads all third baseman with 17 homers to Nelson’s 13. Still, Nelson’s run production won me over. Plus, the veteran had a good glove at third this year.
DESIGNATED HITTER: Ryan Harvey, Lancaster
A lot of good choices here. You have Long Island’s Brandon Sing (.285, 24 HR, 70 RBIs), Southern Maryland’s Jesse Gutierrez (.307, 14 HR, 49 RBIs) and Sugar Land’s Josh Pressley (.275, 16 HR, 73 RBIs). Still, it’s hard not to pick Harvey (.311, 27 HR, 77 RBIs).
OUTFIELD: Prentice Redman (Bridgeport), Blake Gailen (Lancaster), Fehlandt Lentini (Lancaster), and Adam Godwin (Lancaster)
You’re going to be doing something right by setting the Atlantic League’s all-time wins mark in a season. And thus it’s turning out that Lancaster is filling many of my selections throughout this ballot. Redman is an easy pick. Defensively, Bridgeport probably has the best outfield in the league, mainly thanks to the glove work from Redman and James Simmons. So Redman (276, 18 homers, 76 RBIs, 74 runs scored) is an easy choice here.. I wanted to throw in York’s Brandon Haveman for the simple point that he’s been a huge upgrade to York as the lead-off man after coming over in May. His numbers are just under those put up by Lancaster’s three outfielders but he just isn’t good enough defensively to get my vote. York’s Scott Grimes also deserves an honorable mention here. Though his numbers are underwhelming, he would easily get my Gold Glove vote if one existed in the league. Anyway, Godwin (.326, 2 HR, 44 RBIs, 88 runs), Gailen (.330, 22 HRs, 86 RBIs) and Lentini (.326, 18 HRs, 90 RBIs) have just been too good this year to not be chosen here.
RELIEF: RHP Chris Mobley, Southern Maryland
Honestly this could go to a number of relievers. Lancaster and York have a good bullpen, as does Southern Maryland – at least the back end of it. And there are a number of very good set-up/closer type guys here, too. My homer pick would have been York’s Wade Korpi, simply because he’s been lights out in his spot starts this year and has a stellar ERA. But he hasn’t seen enough action to get the vote. Another homer pick could’ve been York set-up man R.J. Rodriguez, but there are too many occasions when he puts runners on base before getting the final out of the inning. So, Mobley (5-2, 1.57 ERA, 11 saves, 51 appearances) is deserving of this award.
CLOSER: LHP Tim Hamulack, Lancaster
A league-leading 32 saves. A 2.00 ERA. Fifty-one strikeouts to 14 walks in 45 innings. Is there any need to explain this choice? (No. No there’s not.)
Right-handed starter: Corey Thurman, York
Sometimes his efforts aren’t always the prettiest. Eight of his 26 starts this year he’s given up at least four earned runs. But he’s been consistenly good to dominant throughout the year, which is really what I’m looking for here. Lancaster’s Dwayne Pollock (league-leading 2.19 ERA) could be considered for this award, but he’s only been starting regularly since mid-June. Bridgeport’s Paul Oseguera and Lancaster’s John Halama are both left-handers, although both could be considered Pitchers of the Year candidates. So, when it comes to best and most consistent right-hander this year, it has to go to Thurman (14-3, 3.84 ERA). His wins broke his own club he set a year ago. His 147.2 innings pitched sits tenth in the league, but of those top ten pitchers in innings, only two (Lancaster’s John Halama and Somerset’s Roy Merritt) have an ERA better than Thurman’s. Did I also mention he held opponents scoreless in five of his starts this year?
Left-handed starter: Paul Oseguera, Bridgeport
This is an easy choice since it came down to Lancaster left-hander John Halama and Oseguera. I think Halama is the league’s Pitcher of the Year. So, Oseguera will get this award here. His 2.52 ERA is second in the league while his 146 strikeouts leads all pitchers. He’s also sixth in wins (12-6).
Note***The Atlantic League’s Board of Directors will choose the Manager of The Year, Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year. Still, I figured I’ll just throw out my picks here anyway for what they’re worth.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Butch Hobson, Lancaster
How can you argue for another manager? Hobson is guiding a club to the league’s wins mark this year. Most of his team that he started the year with is still there. But the Barnstormers did lose six players to major league clubs since early June. When you have three guys leading the league in average and three other pitchers leading the league in wins and another leading the league in ERA, others start to take notice.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Chris Nowak, York
Criticize me all you want as a “homer” pick but I’m strictly basing this on Nowak’s success this year. The guy has hit the most homers of anybody in the league since 2005. And he set a club record in RBIs, which he leads the league this season by a good measure. Sure, his .279 average might lose him some votes from others. But he’s clearly had the biggest impact of anyone on a team this year. Take Nowak’s bat out of the lineup, and I would bet Andres Perez wouldn’t be putting up as good of numbers he is without Nowak batting behind him. Lancaster has quite a few talented players, which is exactly why no one stands out as a clear cut POY candidate for the ‘Stormers. Take one guy out of that lineup, and they still have seven to eight other quality players, plus they’ll probably find someone else to fill in adequately. Lancaster’s Ryan Harvey (.311, 27 homers, 77 RBIs) trails Nowak in the home run lead and does have an impressive .311 batting average. But he only has 77 RBIs and doesn’t play the field enough to get this distinction. And Long Island has a couple guys who have put up good numbers this year, but this award can’t go to a player on a team that tanked the second half.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: John Halama, Lancaster
Tons of good candidates here. For me it came down to Halama and Bridgeport’s Paul Osequera (12-6, 2.51 ERA, league-leading 146 Ks). His 3.09 ERA is third in the league while his 13 wins is fifth and his 113 punch-outs sits tied in seventh. The former major leaguer also tossed two complete games this year, one of which was a shutout.Read More