This week has seen the various players of the year awards handed out. Tony Santillan got the top honor as player of the year in the organization. Mariel Bautista, Seth Varner, and Ryan Hendrix also took the awards for their positions, too. Today, we’re going to talk about the other players that were considered for those spots.

When it came down to the player of the year, there really wasn’t much competition. Tony Santillan just stood out above the competition. His innings, his ERA, his walks, his strikeouts, the levels he pitched at – it all just added up and put him up on top. The rest of the awards, though, were much closer.

Position Player of the Year discussion

The Position Player of the Year went to Mariel Bautista. It’s the first time that I wound up giving the nod to someone from the rookie levels. Part of that was from the fact that no one in full-season ball just went out and had an incredible year. The two guys who were really in contention with Mariel Bautista were Ibandel Isabel and Brian O’Grady. They were the only hitters in full-season with at least 300 plate appearances and an OPS over .825.

Isabel had a .900 OPS in the Florida State League and set the record for most home runs in a season in the league with 35. Overall he hit .258/.333/.566. In that league, the average and the on-base percentage don’t really stick out. The slugging percentage though may as well be 1.000, because guys just don’t slug .566 in that league very often. What hurt him in the choice was his position, and his lack of baserunning prowess. He spent more time at designated hitter than any other spot on the field, and when he was in the field it was almost all spent at first base. He only stole one base on the season, too. Outstanding overall seasons, but just not quite enough to get him the award.

Brian O’Grady split his season between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville. He racked up 376 plate appearances and hit .280/.358/.512 between his two stops. The higher levels helped his case, and he certainly hit quite well. Only having 376 plate appearances though did ding him a tad – had he gotten 500 he probably would have taken home the award.  He stole nine bases, but was caught five times. That’s neither good, nor really bad – so it didn’t really add much value. Defensively he’s a step ahead of where Isabel was. Most of his time in the field was spent in left, but he also played in 24 games at first base. He saw some action in center and at third, but neither was for more than a few games overall. Another strong season, but the defensive spot and just not quite enough playing time overall to overcome the overall season from Bautista.

Starting Pitcher of the Year discussion

This award went out to Seth Varner yesterday. There were more than a few contenders for this one. Tony Santillan was not eligible for it, or he would have gotten the nod. Doubling up on the awards isn’t something I like to do. Spreading out recognition for outstanding seasons is better.

When looking at this award, the things I’m focusing the most on is ERA (when adjusting for the league) and innings pitched. While ERA can be deceiving in terms of telling us about future performance – it is telling us how effective the guy was at that point in time, and for me, that’s what matters when it comes to handing out awards.

Looking at the guys at the top of the system in innings, Packy NAughton, Daniel Wright, Vladimir Gutierrez and Jose Lopez – they all threw 141.0 or more innings. But they all also had ERA’s over 4.00. While that doesn’t automatically kick them out of the running, they would have needed a huge advantage in the innings over other contenders. They didn’t over a guy like Seth Varner. Or a guy like Scott Moss. They did over a guy like Keury Mella and Robert Stephenson, who threw 108.0 and 113.0 on the year.

For me, it came down to Seth Varner and Robert Stephenson. Scott Moss had a 3.68 ERA in 132.0 innings. The innings are strong, but his ERA was only slightly better than the league average of 3.80. That pushed him just outside of the running. Robert Stephenson led the full-season starters in ERA at 2.87. And he racked up a better strikeout rate than any other starter, too. But because of his time in the Majors, he only threw 113.0 innings. Varner didn’t really beat him in the innings department by much, essentially just adding on two more quality starts worth of innings. The thing that helped tip the scales on top of a small edge in innings was that Varner led the organization in WHIP among starters.

Reliever of the Year discussion

This award went out to Ryan Hendrix this season. He dominated out of the bullpen for the Daytona Tortugas in 2018. Much like the starting pitching award, I was looking at things like innings and ERA. With relievers, I also wanted to look at strikeouts because they often come into games with runners on that technically aren’t going to count against them in the line if they score. But strikeouts help out a lot here in preventing other runs from scoring.

For me, that meant it was going to come down to Hendrix, Alex Powers, Kevin Quackenbush, Robinson Leyer and Tanner Rainey. When it comes to ERA among that group, Ryan Hendrix had a big advantage on the group. His ERA was 1.76, with Alex Powers next on the list at 2.34. But, Hendrix did pitch in a pitcher friendly league. Still, the advantage he had was not small and the league adjustment didn’t overcome that difference.

When it came to innings, no one really jumped out ahead of the others. There wasn’t a guy who had 70+ innings and a strong ERA versus some of the guys who had 42-50.0 innings. When it came down to the strikeouts, that’s really where Hendrix stood out. He had a 13.9 strikeout-per-9 rate. Alex Powers was the next best from the contenders group, with a still impressive 11.7 mark – but that’s significantly behind where Hendrix was. In the end, it really seemed to be me coming back to Hendrix and Powers. The edge in ERA, strikeouts, and the small edge in innings led to Hendrix getting the nod.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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