Quad Cities Bandits 2012 Player of the Year

In a close competition, Matt Williams edged out Colin Walsh as the Cardinals top Midwest League position player this season.

I really struggled with the selection of the top position player on the Quad Cities River Bandits this year. There were several guys on the team who were very evenly matched. A few were here all summer and some joined the team at mid-season and helped keep the season on track. To narrow the field, I looked only at players who had joined the club by mid-season. The last criterion was more subjective as I narrowed the consideration to those who were fan favorites.

The field - narrowed to five - include Anthony Garcia, Nick Martini, Stephen Piscotty, Colin Walsh and Matt Williams. After a month of thought and wavering, I still haven't decided who I'm going to name when I get to the end of writing this article!

Anthony Garcia led the team in home runs with 19 but Colin Walsh was right behind him with 16. Walsh had the best batting average (.314) and Piscotty pushed him for all of July and August with a .295 mark. Matt Williams played the most games by only one. He and Nick Martini appeared in 131 and 130 respectively out of 139 games on the season. It was hard to pick a clear winner!

Looking back on the season, when Garcia went to bat, the fans started to expect a big hit because he got them when his team needed them. If it was a flashy play in the outfield, it was usually Martini making the catch. Williams, Walsh, and Piscotty were the excitement in the infield. Can you sense that I'm beating my head on a wall about now? In the end, I had to eliminate some.

Garcia has a great bat but made several miscues in the outfield that were crucial and he had over 100 strikeouts this year. As much as I want to give the recognition to Piscotty, he was only here for half of the season so I felt I should look more at the others. Martini fell a little short on his batting average (.266). Williams and Walsh kept coming to the top of the stats chart when I sorted by various categories.

Colin Walsh was the man without a position this summer, filling in as a utility player wherever he was needed. In a situation like that, it would have been easy to get discouraged. He kept a good attitude of leadership all year. The three-year Bandit exemplified team play and was the only River Bandit who was invited to the Arizona Fall League this year.

Matt Williams was the team leader in games played (131), at bats (525), runs scored (89), hits (141), triples (5), and stolen bases (23). The 23-year-old wasn't flashy, but he was very steady. When I consider the defensive plays he made, they were the difference between a win or loss many times this year. The stats speak louder than anything and I have to go with Matt as The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Quad Cities 2012 Player of the Year.

I could easily have given this honor to any one of the five players named here and there were several others who barely missed the cut to get to five. In the end, this was the most talented team that I've ever watched miss the post-season. It was a disappointment, especially since the Cardinals have now left the Quad Cities.

Congratulations to all of the nominees and especially to Matt Williams. This was a great year of baseball that ended a few games short of what we wanted but it made a lifetime of memories. Thanks to you, readers, for allowing me another chance to write this column and to share my passion for baseball. Enjoy your off season. We'll see you soon!

Link to master article with all 2012 award winners, team recaps and article schedules.

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