We are less than two weeks from the Opening Day Tournament, and I thought now would be a good time to detail our awards predictions for the upcoming season. Without further ado, here are my projections for this year’s award winners.
Most Improved Player: Jordan Benzing, Pavlov’s Dawgs- Benzing had a quiet rookie season, batting .278 with only 2 homers, and going 2-5 with an 8.31 ERA. He is the best pitcher the Dawgs have this year and will be relied on a lot, but he is expected to make a jump in his sophomore season. His bat will come around with experience too.
Comeback Player of the Year: Dave Erb, Schweaty Sachs- I wanted to put Nate St. Ours or BJ Turner here, but the fact that Dave Erb was basically demoted to sub status last year raised a few flags. He is a prolific power hitter with a nasty knuckleball, and he probably won’t have to pitch that much. This way, he can focus on what he does best: mashing the ball. I could see him competing for the league lead in homers.
Home Run King: Ryan Bush, Freaky Franchise- Bush has lost this title only once, in 2011, when he had a down year by his standards (he still hit 17 homers). Last year he was surrounded by great hitting talents, and still managed to put up 31. Dave Erb and Josh Maves will put up a fight, but I think he’ll take the crown.
Strikeout King: Ryan Bush, Freaky Franchise- He’s never lost this crown, he won’t lose this year. Next category please.
Silver Sluggers: Brett Bigler, Freaky Franchise; Chris Roeder, Strong Tough Dudes; Ryan Bush, Freaky Franchise- Last season, Brett Bigler set the OCWA single-season average record, and he holds the all-time highest average at .604. He can mash homers too. Roeder had 10 homers in 8 games last year, and always hits a good average. Plus, he’ll be around more this year. Bush will most likely lead the league in homers and RBI’s, like every other year. This will earn him a spot on the Silver Sluggers. There are many more names that could fit into these spots as well.
Rookie of the Year: Mike Carpin, Lil Pens- I have my doubts about Tim Segrue and how he will fit in to that team, so I’m going with Papa Carpin. He will battle his son for the honors, but I can see the experience and wisdom paying off this year.
Fielder of the Year: Chris “FOY” Sacheli, Schweaty Sachs- Because how can you not give it to a guy who has “FOY” as his nickname?
Manager of the Year: Doug Bush, Lil Pens- I’ll consider this one a close win for Bush over Dylan Frankel of Pavlov’s Dawgs, but seeing as Bush built a roster from scratch and will probably still contend this year makes him the winner.
Pitcher of the Year: Chris Roeder, Strong Tough Dudes- He won it last year, and is the first winner of this award not named Ryan Bush. His control is phenomenal, and his walks have decreased dramatically. He also only let up one run all of last season (including playoffs). He can easily duplicate this performance.
MVP: Ryan Bush, Freaky Franchise- Roeder will give him a run, and there is always a dark horse candidate, but how can you bet against the reigning National Player of the Year? I don’t think you can. He’ll win again.