Quad Cities Bandits 2011 Player of the Year

Oscar Taveras is our pick as the top position player on the Midwest League champion River Bandits.

There is simply only one player who can be named the Quad Cities River Bandits Player of the Year for 2011. There were several stars, but they were out shined by Oscar Taveras.

He led the team in hits (119), doubles (27), OBP (.444), slugging (.584), and OPS (1.028). He also had the best batting average (.386) and was named the League batting champion. And he didn't turn 19 until the All-Star break. A hamstring injury early in the year sidelined him for several weeks or I think we would have seen even greater numbers from Oscar.

Several other players this year would have shined more brilliantly if they hadn't been on the team with Oscar. Each of them deserves recognition here. I'll mention all who were here for at least half of the season.

Kolten Wong was only with the Bandits for 47 games, but he truly contributed to the Championship season and it wouldn't be right not to acknowledge his presence. It goes without saying that Kolten has a bright future in baseball. He'll advance quickly through the system but I wish I could hope that he'd come back here for another year.

Jonathan Rodriguez was in Quad Cities for his second season with the Bandits. It's always fun to watch the process of players maturing when they are here for more than one year. Jonathan is one of those. He arrived at the beginning of 2010 and I could tell he was a "new kid." When he returned this year, I could tell that this would be a breakout year for him. He didn't disappoint.

As a catcher, Cody Stanley was the iron man. He played in almost two thirds of the games - most as the catcher, some as DH. Cody has a command of the game that is impressive. The Bandits didn't have an official team captain. If they did, it would have been Cody. If he's reading this, I want him to know that I'll always be envious of the pro athletes who get the truly beautiful women - her beauty starts inside and shines right through!

Chris Edmondson was one of those guys who could have been unnoticed, except his stats were amazing. At the end of the season, I would have guessed that he had been here for a couple of months but he had, in fact, been in 99 games this year. His stats are online and they are impressive.

Another quiet player who ended up with great stats without ever really standing out as a "star" was Nick Longmire. He wasn't flashy or showy, but he was consistently professional and in the end, that made a big difference in the season.

Michael Swinson has a career as an outfielder ahead of him. He's another one who didn't dazzle anyone but he came up with big plays when they were needed and made our summer more fun.

Packy Elkins was here, was promoted, and then rejoined the team for the playoff run. He was the oldest player on the team (by just a month) and his leadership was evident. When the ball was hit in his vicinity, he made it exciting. I'm glad he was here for most of the year.

Ronny Gil is a diamond in the rough. He got a lot of polish this summer and he is destined for Major League Baseball. His size works against him, but he makes up for it in many ways. Others will want to pay attention as he works his way through the system.

The rest of the team deserves recognition but I'm limited for space and time. I really believe that without any one of the guys who played here this year they wouldn't have made it to the Championship. My thanks to each and every one of them for giving us one of the most exciting summers of baseball that I've ever witnessed. I already miss baseball but this off-season is going to be shorter than most.

Congratulations to Oscar, El Fenomeno, and to all of the River Bandits! Thank you again for another summer of sweltering days and relaxing evenings; for being good ball players and good men.

Let the off-season begin!

Note: Link to article with links to all articles about previous award winners across the system club by club, schedule for upcoming announcements as well as 2011 team recaps, much of it exclusively for The Cardinal Nation subscribers.

Questions for Jon Popham about this Quad Cities report or any other Cardinals minor league topic? Check out our premium, subscriber-only message board today!

© 2011 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories