One of my favorite stats to talk about comes courtesy of Jacob Hurtubise. He never homered in little league, or high school. He then failed to homer while in college. Despite that he showed enough baseball skill to become a professional. In his first full season as a pro in 2021 he didn’t homer. Then in 2022 he didn’t homer either…. until the final game of the season – his 165th professional game.
While the two things probably aren’t related, we can pretend that Jacob Hurtubise took that final game homer in 2022 and rode that high into the 2023 season where he put together his best season yet. After beginning the season 0-7, the outfielder went 15-45 the rest of April and he hit three (!) home runs. He didn’t carry that forward into May, starting the month out by going 1-17. He broke out of that slump with a 3-hit day and finished the month by hitting .368 in the final nine games.
From that point forward, Hurtubise never looked back. He hit .319 in June, splitting time in both Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville where he would spend two weeks before returning to the Lookouts. In July and August he hit .353/.483/.517 in 36 games before being promoted to Louisville on the 23rd of August. In the final 29 games of his season, and at the highest level of the minors, he just kept on collecting hits as he hit .374 with 26 walks and just 12 strikeouts.
When the season was over Jacob Hurtubise had a .330 batting average, a .479 on-base percentage, and a .483 slugging percentage. He set a career high with seven home runs and 10 triples, and he coupled that with 11 doubles. In his 119 games he stole 45 bases in 54 tries, and he walked 77 times while striking out just 63 times in 455 plate appearances.
While the award is called the “hitter” of the year, this is more about offense as a whole than just “hitting” and that non-hitting stuff that Hurtubise did in 2023 is what gave him the edge over the rest of the players in the organization. Carrying a .330 average at the two highest level of the minors was good enough to lead the organization among players with 350 or more plate appearances. He also led the organization in on-base percentage and OPS. The 77 walks were third best in the organization, his 45 steals were second, his 10 triples were tied for second, and the 102 runs scored were also second best.