Typically, the Springfield Cardinals Player of the Year award has featured multiple deserving candidates. From the start of the 2014 season up until the trade deadline, however, there was one candidate ahead of all others to take home this honor.
That changed when Cardinals All-Star outfielder James Ramsey, the key component of the offense’s success, was dealt away as Cleveland’s take in the Justin Masterson trade. Even though Ramsey contributed in a big way while in a Springfield uniform, he will not be eligible for the Player of the Year award because he did not play out the season as a Double-A Cardinal.
There is still only one above the others on the qualifying list. That is the 2014 Texas League All-Star Game MVP, reliable backstop, and improved hitter at the plate in his second season with the Double-A Birds - Cody Stanley, our clear-cut Player of the Year.
The catcher led his team in OPS at .769 among qualifiers with a minimum of 300 at bats, a mark second among all Texas League catchers. Stanley was also had the most hits by a Cardinal with 109 while dealing with the grinding aspects of catching on a daily basis.
Other offensive numbers that progressed from his 2013 campaign as a Springbird include his home runs, up by seven, batting average, climbing from .250 in 2013 to an impressive .283 mark, and 43 RBI, indicating that he has become a key run producer.
Even so, hitting was not the aspect of his game that improved the most, as he became one of the Texas League’s better catchers. As the season wore on, Stanley improved at receiving, better balanced while handling pitches, which led to everything being quieter and in sync. Those improvements were evident by his caught stealing percentage, which was a career best at 42 percent.
Stanley was named a post-season Texas League all-star as well, and was selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League following the regular season.
Overall, this is why Stanley is The Cardinal Nation’s Springfield Player of the Year, a feat that can be considered a career turnaround given Stanley’s 50-game suspension barely two years ago. What may be most impressive was not the hitting and catching improvements Stanley made, but the fact he took charge as a leader and become more vocal in the clubhouse. With all that hard work he has put in, this season was very beneficial for Stanley and I look forward to seeing him in a St. Louis or another major-league uniform someday.
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 system-wide rookies and players of the year.
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