The criteria for choosing the top position play for the Chiefs were as follows:
• 340 plate appearances
• Over .300 on base percentage
• Over .360 slugging percentage
• Consistent offensive performance throughout the season
When examining the candidates for this honor, five players met the criteria. All had good seasons, but a couple stood above the rest. We will go through the merits of each.
Two players with Peoria all season long were Charlie Tilson and Jordan Walton. Both had good seasons and were mainstays in the Chiefs' lineup. While both deserved honorable mention, they were not seriously considered for the award.
Tilson was an everyday outfield starter in manager Dann Bilardello's lineup. Near the end of the season, the left-handed hitter was arguably the team's most consistent performer. Tilson batted .303 for the year, which was second best on the team. He is not known as a power hitter, but still managed to belt four home runs along with 30 RBI. The 20-year-old was always solid defensively and rarely made mistakes. But in the end, his production was not high enough to put him at the top for this award.
Walton was generally written into the three, four or five holes in the order. The left-handed hitter had his moments when he was really hot or really cold, as he was at the end of the season when the team struggled. All year, the Chiefs offense seemed to go as he went.
Walton still had a very good season, batting .278 with three home runs and 49 RBI. The RBI total was third-most on the team. The 23-year-old also had the third most plate appearances and hits. Walton definitely had his moments at the plate this season.
Another player considered was Patrick Wisdom, who was eventually called up to Palm Beach. The third baseman was a major power threat for the Chiefs during his time with the team. The 22-year-old did not hit for a high average, but he was constantly producing runs for the club.
In his 104 games with Peoria, Wisdom batted just .231 but had 13 home runs and 62 RBI. Both his home run and RBI total were good for second on the team. His defense at third base needs to improve, but Wisdom has a bright future with the Cardinals organization. The right-handed hitter's power at the corner infield position will be coveted.
The next runner up for the award is Breyvic Valera. He was another who spent the entire season with Peoria and was probably their most consistent threat. The switch-hitter played 128 games and led the team with 515 plate appearances. For much of the year, Valera led off and set the table for the middle of the Chiefs lineup to drive him in.
The 21-year-old batted .309 and had a .358 on base percentage, both of which led the team. He was also fourth on the club in RBI (48), which is impressive for a leadoff hitter. Valera was impressively fifth in the MWL in batting average. There was little doubt he was one of Peoria's best position players all year long. He seriously considered for this award, but in the end the decision was easy.
Wilson's home run and RBI total led the team, as did his slugging and OPS. He finished tied for 12th in home runs and 14th in RBI in the MWL despite having fewer at-bats than his competitors. There was little doubt that Wilson deserves this award. The right-handed batter was the best hitter on the team all season. When he was hot during a stretch at the end of the first half, it was no coincidence that the team played its best baseball. Wilson will be interesting to follow in the organization in the years to come.
All five candidates had their merits. They all had great seasons and deserved the recognition they received, but in the end the decision was an easy one. Wilson compiled the best stats and had a great year, even if it did not end with Peoria.
Congratulations to Jacob Wilson for being The Cardinal Nation 2013 Peoria Chiefs Player of the Year. It is certainly well deserved.
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.
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