(Game date: Oct. 7, 2018) — The final season for the American Eagle League, which will be renamed for 2019 as the Metropolitan League, has come to a close. The last official act for the league was the issue its 2018 season player awards, which were announced today.
Taking home the 2018 AEL Carl Simms MVP Award as the most valuable player during the year was dominant Norfolk Sharks catcher Earl MacPherson.
The 26-year-old from Quebec City, Canada, has already made a name for himself in the Bull League as one of the top players at his position, after earning a Gold Crown at C last year, and being named to the AEL All-Star Team two years running, first in 2017 and again this season.
But now MacPherson can add the coveted league MVP to his trophy case, after a season that saw him set a Bull League season RBI record at 104, just a year after getting 99 and nearly tying previous record-holder Bill Schaffer’s 100, set in 1999. “Blur” was also 9th in batting, with a respectable .332 average that led all other AEL catchers. He tied for second in home runs, with Calgary’s Cody Martin, both of whom were unable to outpace the incredible Admirals DH, Takeo Otomo’s 51.
MacPherson also led the AEL in slugging percentage at .763, and was among league leaders in OPS, WAR, and total bases. His contributions to the Sharks, who had a great start to 2018 before tapering off with injuries, were undeniable. The Sharks remain with some gaps, but were among the top batting teams in the AEL in 2018.
St. Pete’s ace Jose Soto was given his second Sandy Koufax Award in a row this year, after following up his incredible 2017 debut with a season nearly its equal. Last year, he took both the Sandy Koufax and the Rookie of the Year for his 15-0 record and 2.00 ERA. Soto managed to finally lose in 2018, but just 4 times, and after an 11-4 year he has one of the best 2-season records ever seen by a starter, at 26-4.
Soto crafted a 3.63 ERA, and mowed down batters at a league-leading 12.1 pace of K/9. His season total of 190 K’s placed him 3rd all-time, behind Hall of Famer Jack Stevens (193 in 1998) and Ricky Terrazas (195 in 2011). If not for a late season injury, Soto almost certainly would have set a new season record, and likely have been the first to break the 200 K’s milestone.
Reliever of the Year for the AEL went to Seattle’s Tragically Hipp, a workhorse bullpen lefty who was solid this year, notching 7 wins and just 2 losses, along with 14 saves, over 40 appearances. Hipp was fearsome to AEL batters, turning 113 strikeouts in just 69 innings.
Arizona Cowboys international free agent Tak-keung Yang was named Rookie of the Year, in a close vote that saw Nevada’s own international FA, Chitoji Yamada, place second. Yang edged out Yamada on his AEL rookie-leading .346 average, 89 runs and 93 RBIs. Yang tied for 2nd in AEL home runs at 42.
The AEL closed the books on their league player awards after 24 seasons, and the next chapter opens in 2019 when the AEL’s teams return under the rebranded Metro League.