One of the top contenders, Nick Stavinoha, had been on the 40-man roster previously but was not re-added and appears destined for free agency. Another, Andrew Brown, was removed from the 40-man in October and lost to the organization via waivers. The third, Matt Carpenter, had a strong spring and a decent regular season, yet was sent home at the completion of the Pacific Coast League schedule.
Let's take a look at the team leaders on offense.
Memphis Redbirds – 2011 leaders with Pacific Coast League rankings
As we can see, in terms of full-season contribution, the decision comes down to the power bats of Stavinoha and Brown against the on-base results of Carpenter.
Brown's first half was great (1.000 OPS), but his second was not (.706). He was the system's Player of the Month for May after being named the PCL Player of the Week for the period of May 23-29. Brown was Memphis' only mid-season all-star, representing Memphis in the annual Triple-A All-Star Game against the International League.
Brown made his MLB debut with St. Louis in June, but apparently did not impress. He went 4-for-22, .182 in 11 games before his return to the Redbirds. Ultimately, his second half fall in terms of results and the organization's willingness to let him go were factors in him missing out on this award. Brown was recently claimed by Colorado when the Cardinals exposed him to outright waivers.
If this was a top prospect ranking, there is no doubt Carpenter would be on top. Alas, that is not the case. Further, I think Carpenter was limited by not being used to his maximum effectiveness in 2011.
Despite playing in 130 games, second-most on the team, and while logging a tremendous .417 OBP, Carpenter scored a paltry 61 runs. That total tied him for 65th in the league. Carpenter was used down in the order to help produce runs when his strength appears to be the ability to get on base. Though I don't want to read anything into it, Carpenter also led the team with 16 errors.
The 29-year-old led the team in hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, runs scored, at-bats, and games played plus was second to Brown in slugging and OPS.
Stavinoha's 109 RBI established a new Memphis single-season team record, passing Kevin Witt's record of 107 RBI set in 2004. Though not relevant to this single-season award, Stavi also set a number of Memphis career milestones, including games played, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and home runs.
Removed from the 40-man roster one year ago, Stavinoha did not receive another chance with St. Louis this past summer and will almost certainly test free agency in the upcoming off-season.
Best of luck to Nick Stavinoha, our 2011 Memphis Redbirds Player of the Year, wherever his travels take him.
These three Redbirds also performed well, but not for as long and consistently as the top three.
Adron Chambers received the organization's Player of the Month Award for June. For the season, the speedster led the team with five triples and 22 stolen bases, but was also caught 13 times. His .277 batting average was ok, with his .368 OBP much better.
First baseman Mark Hamilton seemed to change his hitting style in 2011. He improved his batting average substantially, with a .345 mark this year that led the team. On the other hand, he hit just two home runs all season long. Getting away from his power does not seem a good signal for the future.
Shortstop Tyler Greene began the season in St. Louis, but was sent down in mid-June and spent most of the rest of the summer with Memphis. Had he played more than 66 games with the Redbirds, he would have been a serious contender here. Greene's line of .323/.433/.579 was superb, as were his 14 home runs, 43 RBI and 19 steals in 21 attempts.
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.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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