The 2017 Player Awards have been announced, and while were some surprises, there were also a few awards that had been virtually locked since August.
CARL SIMMS MVP AWARD
The Most Valuable Player Award was renamed for 2017, after one of the Bull League’s most iconic Hall of Fame stars, Carl Simms, himself a six time winner of the accolade.
Also for the first time since 1995, pitchers no longer qualified to win the award. This season’s MVP winners were well deserving for their offensive and defensive exploits, and both were first-time winners.
AEL: Danny Sanchez, SS – Norfolk Sharks
Sanchez was the AEL’s top player, taking the batting title with a .369 average, along with the top OPS of 1.027. He also scored 80 runs, taking the lead over Anchorage’s Kitigawa by five runs, and walked an insane 95 times. The 30-year-old from Mexico was unsurprisingly the AEL’s top slugger at shortstop, and was voted to the AEL All-Star team earlier this year.
LL: Jose “Racetrack” Ramirez, LF – Montreal Metros
Though the Metros did not win the Bull Cup, their journey to the BCCS was helped immensely by the contributions of Jose Ramirez, the LL batting title winner (.342), who also led the league in doubles (38) and triples (8), in addition to OPS (1.017). While his numbers in some of these categories were not quite as high as Sanchez’, they were the top in the LL and, incredibly, in only his second season of play.
The lefty-hitting 23-year-old Cuban, who was also named LLCS series MVP, was also an All-Star and took the LL Gold Crown for LF.
Sandy Koufax Award
The Sandy Koufax Award is named for one of the greatest professional pitchers to ever play baseball, and is awarded to the most valuable pitcher in the AEL and LL.
AEL: Jose “Flinch” Soto, Anchorage Aces
The rookie Aces starter (who also took home the Rookie of the Year Award) went undefeated in his inaugural season, finishing 15-0 at the end of the year. He pieced together an impressive 2.00 ERA, and struck out 174 batters in 162.1 innings while allowing just 34 walks and 120 hits. With such an impressive contribution, the 22-year-old phenom from the Dominican Republic was an easy lock for the Sandy Koufax Award, unseating the Jacksonville Ravens’ Ricky Rodriguez, who had won it for the last 2 seasons.
It was a close vote, Rodriguez maintained the best ERA and WHIP by a margin, but lost 4 games and couldn’t match Soto’s K/9 that saw him strike out, on average, at least one batter per inning.
LL: Judson “Fivespot” Martel, Montreal Metros
Though he spent the final month of 2017 on the disabled list, Judson Martel established his dominance once again as the top pitcher in the Lake League winning his second Sandy Koufax Award, after setting a new Bull League record for lowest ERA, with 1.36. He was 11-1 over the course of 16 starts, and held the LL-best WHIP of 0.90 by season’s end. He threw his second career no-hitter back on June 4 against the Battle Creek Attack, and broke the 1,000 career strikeouts mark early in the season, solidifying his place in Bull League history.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
The Rookie of the Year Award is open to both positions players and to pitchers who have not yet completed 45 service days prior to the current year.
AEL: Jose “Flinch” Soto, P – Anchorage Aces
LL: Corny Maise, CF – Ohio Oxen
The Woodchuck Trophy is awarded to the best relief pitcher in each league over the season, named for the aggressive and industrious groundhog, or “woodchuck”.
AEL: Adam Fitzpatrick – Seattle Salts
LL: Everett Weisensel – Battle Creek Attack