Welcome back to the Blue Jays from Away season-ending report series. These next few articles will deal with the Blue Jays’ lowest level full-season minor league affiliate, the Lansing Lugnuts of the A-ball Midwest League.
The Lugnuts, for those of you who are inclined to visit, play in the beautiful Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing, Michigan which can be reached in less than a five-hour drive from Toronto. I highly recommend a trip to central Michigan if you’re interested in Blue Jays prospects and minor league baseball.
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion
For those of you that followed along with my daily Minor League Reports on Jays Journal (that I started at the old Blue Jays from Away blogger site) and on Twitter, you’ll know that I “awarded” Player of the Game (PotG) accolades on a game-by-game basis. It should comfort you to know that I’ve been keeping track of these daily awards and my rationale for the system is as follows.
The Player of the Game Awards were determined by a number of factors that included who I thought had the most impact on the game and who might have gone “above and beyond.” Most nights, there was just one Player of the Game. If there was, he earned one point. If I thought that either a) no one stood out enough to merit a single PotG, or b) two or more players were outstanding and deserved mention, I split the point up into two or three shares. If two players earned PotG mention, they each received 0.5 points and if three players earned mentions, they each received 0.3 points.
Here are the final standings for Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game for the Lansing Lugnuts:
Congratulations to the Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion for 2013, Dwight Smith, Jr.!
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year
I’m going to go a little under the radar for the (position) Player of the Year award. Left fielder Dwight Smith, Jr. was easily the most consistent hitter for the Lansing Lugnuts (I’ll get into a little bit more statistical analysis in Part 4) and center fielder Dalton Pompey had some tremendous hot streaks and put up very good numbers (literally one OPS point behind Smith) which are even better considering that Pompey exploded for power in August and played a good chunk of the season hobbled by an injury to his foot.
All that said, while both Pompey and Smith could have won the award, I’m giving it to shortstop Emilio Guerrero. Not only did Guerrero have comparable batting numbers (his OPS finished four points above Smith’s) but his slow start makes his very solid overall numbers all the more impressive. Congratulations to Emilio Guerrero!
Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year
This was another tough award to select. Ben White came from out of nowhere to lead the team in innings with solid numbers overall. Taylor Cole led the club in strikeouts with and was also one of the club’s go-to pitchers for the entire season. Roberto Osuna and Daniel Norris both flashed utter dominance (but only in flashes). Like with the Player of the Year award, the Pitcher of the Year award is going to go to a player who is also very much under the radar but definitely went above and beyond what was expected of him this season. Congratulations to Kramer Champlin, the Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year for the Lansing Lugnuts! Champlin was fifth in innings pitched despite making only two starts on the year.
Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year
Since I’m not inclined to give one pitcher both of these awards (Pitcher and Reliever of the Year), I’m going to hand out this piece of hardware to Ian Kadish who had an excellent season out of a hard-working bullpen.
Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player
There are several contenders for this award making it another difficult decision. Very strong cases could be made for any of the three young players that I considered.
Emilio Guerrero put up some decent numbers in the Gulf Coast League last year and some pretty bad ones in Bluefield but showed some overall potential with the bat despite the huge jump he made up to Lansing. Dwight Smith, Jr. had a pretty bad statistical season overall (despite showing some pop in Rookie Ball) last year with both Bluefield and Vancouver.
That said, the Most Improved Player for the Lansing Lugnuts is Daniel Norris. Norris not only improved in leaps and bounds from last year but the pitcher who took the mound in August was someone that barely resembled the one who began the season with Lansing. At the end of last season, some writers were seriously doubting Norris’s ability to put all of his tools together but the young pitcher is starting to silence those concerns. Congratulations to Daniel Norris!
Note: All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013) and may not be used without permission.