MVP Shortlist is Here!

There will be a tight race in both leagues for the Carl Simms MVP Awards at the conclusion of this season, we predict. We will take an early look at the contenders for the award here.

Last year’s winners, Orlando Garza (Montreal), and Earl MacPherson (Norfolk) don’t look like they will repeat, and in fact, it looks like in both leagues we will have a first-time winner.

LAKE LEAGUE

The Lake League contenders for the MVP are probably a 50/50 toss up between Les Groves (Milwaukee Hops) and Tyrone O’Saurus (Ohio Oxen), both catchers. An outside shot exists for Minneapolis Ravens 2B Lan-quing Siew.

LES GROVES, C – Milwaukee Hops

Groves currently leads the LL in batting (.370) by a large margin. Teammate Jason Nelson trails by 30 points. As a result of his consistent hitting, he also tops the charts for OPS, and is 2nd in OBP and Slugging pct. His name appears 6th on the home run chart, and 3rd in hits. He tops the WAR at 7.2, projecting to hit 7.8 by season’s end, which would be a new single-season record.

Last year he won the Rookie of the Year (even though it was his 2nd season playing), and was 3rd in MVP voting, after leading the Lake League in hitting with a .371 average, and an OPS of 1.085. The Aussie, who played in the now-defunct Bull Oceanic League, has been a solid defensive catcher as well, with just 4 passed balls and a total of 769 putouts, and counting. Just 15 errors mar his fielding stats, but he has demonstrated impressive range and a CERA of 4.23, ranking him 4th.

TYRONE O’SAURUS, C – Ohio Oxen

The 29-year-old O’Saurus has found himself on top of the home run charts, and is sure to impress the voters who favor power above all things. Last year he had a career season in terms of hitting, with a .330 average and an OPS of 1.045.  Though he did clobber 29 homers, it was Garth Goyle who held down the team lead, with 40.

This season, in addition to leading the LL in home runs, he is also on top of the slugging % chart along with ISO power, and is 2nd in RBIs and OPS. An MVP win would be a first for him, though he did take home a Bull Cup series MVP in 2016, and is a 3-time Gold Crown at C, proving he has plenty of offense in his repertoire.

Still, if the past is anything to go by, a home run hitter who doesn’t appear in the top 10 in batting has the cards stacked against him in the MVP race. In 2017, Alan Isimo (Rimouski) led in HR and RBI, but stood aside for Montreal’s Jose Ramirez in the MVP race. Last year, Ohio’s Goyle topped the HR, RBI and runs charts, and again a Metros player took the prize, with Orlando Garza leading in just hits and steals.

THE LONG SHOT: LAN-QUING SIEW, 2B – Minneapolis Ravens

Siew is looking great for a Rookie of the Year, but we also think he could end up stealing an MVP award in the Lake League as well, with his impressive ranking (7th) in the batting leaderboard, at .319, his top OBP of .453, and 2nd in the LL WAR (7.1), a sliver behind Groves. But wait, there’s more. Siew will set an LL record for walks, topping that leaderboard with 129 so far, more than a dozen ahead of the next guy on the list.

The 33-year-old, who was signed as an experienced international free agent out of Taiwan, is a stretch for the MVP, but could sway enough voters his way with his dynamic hitting and patience.

METRO LEAGUE

The Metro League boasts another power-vs-hitting two-way race, but this time one of the contenders can already count one MVP on his trophy shelf.

DANNY SANCHEZ, SS – Norfolk Sharks

“Golden Boy” Sanchez has put up HOF career numbers, and this season has been no different. He flirted with .400 for much of the season, and is now leading the Metro League just  a few points below that mark, at .392. Though he only has a dozen home runs, his hits come at key times and his speed moves him around the base paths, resulting in 111 runs scored, and 83 RBIs.

One of his key skills is his ability to draw a walk, and his 167 bases on balls (and counting) will put him at the top of the single-season records, now that we are into 162-game seasons. Sanchez won the Carl Simms MVP Award in 2017 when he also topped the batting leaderboard, that time with a .369 average, getting 130 hits in 352 at bats through the entire 100 game season.

JIM LAHEY, 1B – Nevada Speeders

The often-sauced and shirtless first baseman of the Speeders has, despite his shortcomings off the field, come out huge on the field. Formerly the offensive anchor of the California Tidals, he was traded to Nevada part way through 2018 and saw his offense taper off slightly, ending the year at .292 and with 29 home runs.

This year, Lahey found his power swing, and thus far has pushed the single-season record for homers up to 60, with 2 weeks left on the schedule, and could hit 65. That would set the 162-game bar very high indeed, and will likely stand as the record for the next several seasons.

Lahey leads the ML in RBIs with 149, 10 more than the next on the list, and also tops the slugging % (.674), total bases (387), extra base hits (92) and iso power (.369) leader boards. Lahey is a proven run generator, mainly through hitting more bases than anybody else, and is a threat to win his first MVP over and above Sanchez. Possibly.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Chitoji Yamada (Nevada), Katai Kitagawa (St. Petes), Xavier de Soto (Miami

These three make the outside shots list, though the odds are much longer than Siew’s in the LL. Yamada has similar power predilections as Lahey, and is tied for 2nd on the WAR chart behind Sanchez. He tops the runs scored leader board, and has been solid all year. Kitagawa is the player Yamada is tied with on the WAR chart, but has the advantage of ranking 2nd in batting average (at .361), and is going to set the new record in stolen bases with an impressive 71 or more by the time the season closes. De Soto is another batting machine, ranking 4th in batting average, and holding down a 7-game scoring streak this year. He is right on Kitagawa’s heels on the hits chart, at over 200, leads the ML in doubles with 45, and has a nice smile.

The ultimate winners of each league’s Carl Simms MVP Award will of course be decided by the GMs, right after the playoffs finish. But it will be an exciting race to watch in both leagues, and we can’t wait to see who takes the prizes.

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