Usually the Most Valuable Player award has many viable candidates. Every year there is at least three-to-four players that are deserving of the award. This season, however, it was two man race from the start of the season to the end of their campaign with the Palm Beach Cardinals.
Unlike prior years, when I refused to give the award to a player that did not finish the year with Palm Beach, this season I had a change of heart because both the two most deserving players received late-summer promotions.
Let’s start with the similarities between the two.
Both started the season in High-A and received mid-season Florida State League all-star honors.
Tilson added a post-season all-star berth after finishing his Palm Beach stint with a .308 average (114-for-370) with eight doubles, eight triples, five homers, 36 RBI and 10 stolen bases. He played in 89 games, and finished second in the league in batting average. The 21-year-old led the team in hits, triples and was fourth in runs scored (54) and total bases (153).
Tilson’s numbers were better after the all-star break. In the absence of Valera, Tilson went off for the Cardinals. In his final 30 games with the team, the left-handed hitter batted .322 (39-for-129) with five doubles, five triples, three homers and 19 RBI. Despite playing in half the number of games in the second half versus the first, Tilson had better numbers as the season progressed. He tallied 13 extra base hits compared to eight in the first half while adding two more RBI.
Tilson was exceptional on the field as well, making three errors in 181 chances with four outfield assists while manning center field.
So how is Tilson not Palm Beach’s Most Valuable Player?
Well, Valera was promoted five games after the all-star break, so he only starred in 73 games for the Cardinals. Despite playing in 16 fewer games than Tilson, the switch-hitter finished the campaign batting .333 (98-for-294) with 35 runs scored, eight doubles, four triples and 37 RBI. Valera swiped 13 bases and made 10 errors on the field in 329 chances. He led the team in batting and stolen bases while striking out 13 times in 294 at-bats.
The 22-year-old was the toughest out in the lineup and beat Tilson in batting average, RBI and stolen bases while tying him in doubles.
It was a tough decision, but ultimately the numbers displayed by Tilson were not enough to surpass Valera’s overall contributions as The Cardinal Nation’s 2014 Palm Beach Cardinals Player of the Year.For more
Link to master article with all 2014 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selections as the top rookies and players of the year across the system.
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