Can Miguel Cabrera win back to back Louisville Slugger Batting Champion awards, or will it be Freddie Freeman in his new setting that wins the award for the fourth time? Will Oscar Taveras win his second of the award in the Frontier League, or will someone else spring into the conversation in the last month?
We hate to say it, but it most likely will not be Miguel Cabrera or Freddie Freeman on stage giving the acceptance speech again. Currently, Syracuse Orange first baseman Jim ‘Ape’ Kilpatrick, Dayton Sting shortstop Francisco Lindor and Altoona Curve third baseman Joey Gallo are in Wins Above Replacement, which takes into account base running, batting and fielding runs, helping to account for the overall value of the player. But, this is a batting award, so fielding does not account into that. Because of that, we will focus on weighted on-base average, wOBA, which factors in different types of hits, and their value, along with walks and hit by pitches.
This is where Joey Gallo lays his claim to the award, leading the league in the category, and in runs batted in, along with second in home runs. But he also leads the league in strikeouts and only has a .269 batting average, and outside of his home runs he doesn’t hit many extra base hits, nor does he walk often.
Jim Kilpatrick is another player with a good chance to win the award, as he leads the league in hits, and despite only 9 home runs on the year, he’s not far off the pace for extra base hits. Add in the fact that he’s already broken the single season record for stolen bases, and is on pace for 125 runs. With a strong last month, he could end up with 100 stolen bases, 100 runs, 100 runs batted in and 2oo hits.
St. Louis Storm third baseman Edward Salcedo is a possible sleeper pick. Despite a low batting average, he’s hit homers, and extra base hits left and right, leading the league in both categories. Though he plays for a last place team, he’s been fairly impressive. The biggest problem though is that a majority of his home runs were hit at home, a very hitter friendly park. If voters take that into account, he will lose some votes.
Richardson City Blood Raven right fielder Yorman Rodriguez is another who could potentially sneak into the conversation. Despite a mediocre year at first glance, he’s got a very good chance at 100 runs and 100 runs batted in, along with a league lead in walks. He’s also added 24 home runs and 23 stolen bases, leading his first place team in both categories. Should he have a strong last month he may be a member of the 30/30 club, and as he has led his team back to the playoffs, could get a few votes.
The sleeper pick for the award is Vallejo Admirals shortstop Corey Seager. Coming to the team in the middle of July, Seager has stepped it up to a whole new level. In just 35 games with the team, he’s batted .378 with 6 home runs, which would put him at a pace of 27 home runs in 162 games, a career high for him. Seager has helped get the team back into a spot for the playoffs, and with his play recently, he could make anything happen once they get there.
The argument could be made for Miguel Cabrera, but his missed time due to injuries takes away from his argument, but if his numbers were over a 162 game period he would certainly be right at the top of the list. Freddie Freeman, the other multi-time winner has put together a less than stellar campaign, putting up his career low batting average, and is far from the conversation.
Our pick goes to Jim Kilpatrick, as he’s carried the Syracuse offense through injuries to many other key players.
This appears to be Traverse City Beach Bums left fielder Oscar Taveras’ award to lose, at this point in the season. He leads the league in batting average (.312), runs batted in (82), and hits (170), by a large margin. He’s also third in the league in home runs (25), fifth in runs (75), and he adds 8 stolen bases to that. He’s been the most consistent hitter in the league, and has helped keep Traverse City in the playoff race.
Caroline County Channel Cats first baseman Luke Maile is one of the few players that could give Taveras a run for his money. Maile has been the lone bright spot for the last place Channel Cats, batting .288 with 26 home runs and 72 runs batted in. If Maile can put in a strong September, he could be close to the triple crown, and if he can pull that off, he’ll get strong consideration.
Nashville Outlaws shortstop Javier Baez is another player who could’ve given Taveras a fight. The only problem is that he’s missed a month and a half due to a fractured foot, then a setback. Followed by a rehab assignment, he’s missing significant time. Despite this, he still leads the league with 29 home runs, and extra base hits, 56, and is just behind in runs batted in. He has accounted for, what seems like, every Nashville run this season. If he had been on the field for the whole season, he would have been on pace to break the single season home run record, and that alone would have to put him in the conversation for the award.
The reigning winner, Minneapolis Miller left fielder Bryce Harper is not even in the conversation, as he is not having nearly the same caliber year as he did last year. Unless one player lights the world on fire in September, this looks like a one horse race, with a few with an outside shot to win.
Our pick is Oscar Taveras, he’s stayed on the field and lifted his team into playoff contention while being mightily consistent, hitting for contact and power, scoring and driving in runs, and adding stolen bases to that. While not dominating in any aspects, he has not faltered this year.