Ah, Lansing. Aside from Buffalo, Lansing is the closest of the Blue Jays’ minor league affiliates to Toronto and, this year, it was the most successful, winning the Eastern Division of the Midwest League in the first half and winning their first playoff series against the Great Lakes Loons before losing in three game to the West Michigan Whitecaps in the second round.
Under first-year manager Ken Huckaby, the Lugnuts had a 73-66 record that dominated in the first half, largely due to the big group of outstanding prospects, most of whom were either promoted or traded by the time August came around. I won’t retread ground we’ve already covered but needless to say, the Lugnuts’ success in the first half couldn’t be repeated in the second no matter how many players the Blue Jays sent back to the club for the playoffs. The Lugnuts’ offense was a force to reckoned with, leading entire Midwest League by averaging 5.03 runs per game at an average age of 21.8 years old (0.4 years older than the league average). The pitching staff, however, wasn’t nearly as prolific, finishing fourth from the bottom of the league table, allowing 4.48 runs per game at 0.2 years younger than the league average of 22 years old.
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion
For those of you who followed the minor league reports here, 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 Iâve 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, three or four 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. There were occasions that I felt that no one merited the award and therefore, I did not give out any points.
Here are the final standings for Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game for the Lansing Lugnuts:
|Chase De Jong||4.3|
|Michael De La Cruz||2.25|
|Dickie Joe Thon||2|
Ryan McBroom earns the award as the 2015 Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion despite a closer-than-you-might think with D.J. Davis coming in second. Still, the Midwest League MVP’s ability to produce and excel made him the “man of the match” in more games than anyone else.
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year
Once again, Ryan McBroom takes home the (hypothetical) hardware. McBroom out-OPSed everyone on the team who had more than 71 plate appearances, hitting .315/.387/.482 with 39 doubles and 12 home runs. Several other players had good years but no one was really all that close to McBroom.
Honourable mentions: D.J. Davis, Chris Carlson, Anthony Alford, Rowdy Tellez, Jason Leblebijian
Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year
This award is also an easy one to call. One of the Midwest League’s best pitchers this year was Shane Dawson who was not only among the club leaders in innings (101 2/3) despite missing time to win a gold medal in the Pan-Am Games and making five starts for the Dunedin Blue Jays, but among the leaders in ERA (3.01), WHIP (1.17) and finished the season with the most strikeouts on the club (98) while walking only 24.
Honourable mentions: Justin Shafer, Chase De Jong
Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year
It wasn’t difficult to narrow this award down to three players but beyond that it was very tough to call a clear winner. In the end, I used a couple of stats to come down on the side of the winner. In my mind, Tim Mayza was the Reliever of the Year. Mayza took a huge step forward for the Lugnuts, improving almost all of his numbers and becoming an essential arm in the bullpen, throwing 55 2/3 innings. The 23-year-old lefty had a 3.07 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP while striking out 26.3% of batters: one of the highest rates on the club (third when you only count pitchers with 20 or more innings). For me, the deciding factors were the strikeout rate and his 2.62 FIP which was below his closest competitors’.
Honourable mentions: Dusty Isaacs, Justin Shafer
Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player
Is there any doubt that D.J. Davis is the most improved player on the Lansing Lugnuts? After a fairly miserable year in which he set the club record for strikeouts in a season, Davis set to work in 2015 and improved his OPS by almost 150 points, reduced his strikeout rate by almost 10% (from 30.8% to 21.5%) while increasing his ISO slightly.
Honourable mentions: Tim Mayza
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