2013 Springfield Cardinals Player of the Year

Leadoff hitter Mike O'Neill was Springfield's offensive catalyst with a team-leading .320 batting average and a .431 on base percentage.

Unlike Oscar Taveras in the 2012 season, there was not a clear cut front-runner for the 2013 Springfield Cardinals Player of the Year. Several players put together very impressive seasons with the Texas League club this summer, though. In fact, three players in particular stood out among the rest, each bringing something different to the table by being among the team leaders and league leaders in statistical categories.

So who do we go with and how do we determine which statistic was most important to the team? Do we choose the high-average on-base guy in Mike O'Neill, the power guy in Xavier Scruggs, or the run producer in journeyman Ruben Gotay?

First, we'll take a look at Gotay, the run producer. He led the team with 89 RBI, which was also good for second in the Double-A league, just two off the pace. Still, it is difficult to seriously consider the 30-year-old for Player of the Year as he was signed to fill in Springfield's roster late in spring training.

Regardless of the circumstances, the former big leaguer had an impressive season. Along with being the team's top run producer, Gotay had the team's second highest average at .279 and second-most home runs with 16. The third baseman matched his home run total with 16 stolen bases, also second on the team and he led the Cards with 75 runs scored and in doubles with 31. Gotay joined O'Neill as Springfield's only Texas League Postseason All-Stars.

Scruggs and manager Mike Shildt
Scruggs also had a very impressive season as Springfield's leading power hitter. The first baseman's third season with Springfield was easily his strongest as he clubbed 29 home runs, which led the team by 13 over Gotay and trailed the league leader by two. With two 29 home runs, Scruggs became Springfield's all-time career leader in home runs, surpassing Steven Hill.

Scruggs was also a top run producer with 81 RBI and 18 doubles, trailing Gotay by eight RBI and 13 doubles. Scruggs hit for a .248 batting average, which was largely hindered by striking out 177 times, far too many to for a potential Player of the Year.

Before his late season promotion to Memphis, leadoff hitter Mike O'Neill was the offensive catalyst for the Springfield Cardinals lineup. Setting the table much in the way Matt Carpenter has for the St. Louis Cardinals all season, O'Neill was an on-base machine. In fact, O'Neill had a whopping .431 on-base percentage to go along with a .320 batting average, both of which led the team and were good for second in the league.

The outfielder's .320 average led the team by 41 points. O'Neill also had the most stolen bases with 18 and was third with 66 runs scored. Furthermore and perhaps O'Neill's most impressive stat was that he struck out just 26 times in nearly 400 at-bats while walking 71 times.

Overall, this is why O'Neill had the most impressive season and is our choice as The Cardinal Nation's 2013 Springfield Cardinals Player of the Year. O'Neill was not a clear cut choice but it also became clear that the Cardinals lineup and even part of Gotay's and Scruggs' production was better when O'Neill was in the leadoff spot. That is evidenced by the late-season slide in the standings that occurred after O'Neill's promotion to Memphis.

Link to master article with all 2013 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selections as the Player of the Year across all the Cardinals minor league affiliates as well as our system-wide awards.

Follow me on Twitter: @BrandonJMahler

© 2013 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