Last week’s piece on the Palm Beach Cardinals Starting Pitcher of the Year award was really tough to write. Choosing between four or five very worthy candidates isn’t easy to do, especially when the top two are so closely matched.
This week’s post to announce the Palm Beach Cardinals Position Player of the Year was ever harder to write for two reasons. First, the imposing figure of Jake Arrieta keeps haunting every second thought. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the Cardinals will have made all of my fears look silly, but as it is, my attention is a little bit divided.
Even more challenging, however, is writing an interesting piece when there simply isn’t much intrigue. The Florida State League Cardinals’ best position player in 2015 was first baseman Luke Voit, and there is no real question about that.
You might think I’m using hyperbole, but I’m not. The FSL All-Star led all Beach Birds with at least 300 at bats in batting average (.273), on base percentage (.360), slugging percentage (.405), OPS (.765), hits (126), walks (63), triples (5), home runs (11), runs (52), RBI (77), sac flies (9), ISO (.132), wOBA (.362) and wRC+ (134)*. However you prefer to calculate and evaluate statistics, Luke Voit is simply the best.
If you drop the at-bat threshold to 250, outfielder Collin Radack appears, leading Voit in average and OBP, and nearly catching him in wOBA and wRC+. But when you realize that Radack had 253 fewer at bats than Voit, the edge slides back to the former Missouri State slugger. As you can see, even stacking the deck against Voit doesn’t provide any great competition.
In choosing a runner up, I suppose that Mason Katz is as good of a pick as any. His .259/.347/.372 line confirms him as a solid contributor, although he wasn’t spectacular and missed a good chunk of the season due to injury. Nonetheless, Katz managed to finish third in most offensive categories (behind Radack and Voit), and posted a very solid 123 wRC+ while playing all over the field.
Center fielder C.J. McElroy earns an honorable mention for his team-leading 39 stolen bases, and for tying Voit for the lead in runs scored. His .247/.329/.314 line left something to be desired, but the switch-hitter still managed to come out a hair above average with a 101 wRC+.
To summarize, the 2015 Palm Beach Cardinals won behind their pitching while having a pretty rough offensive year in a pretty rough offensive league. As a result, many of the individual performances reflected that.
First baseman Luke Voit, however, stands head and shoulders above his teammates in nearly every statistical category and offered the only truly imposing presence in the lineup. Although he didn’t have much competition for it, Voit is certainly deserving of The Cardinal Nation’s Palm Beach Cardinals Position Player of the Year Award.
* wRC+ stands for “weighted runs created plus” and is a statistic designed to calculate the number of runs above average a player provides to his team as an offensive player. It also adjusts for league variables, helping to avoid skewing statistics too much in a pitcher’s or hitter’s league. The scale is centered on 100, and every point above or below 100 is a percentage better or worse than average. So, for example, Voit’s wRC+ of 134 indicates that he was 34% better than the average hitter in the Florida State League. Because the FSL is such a challenging league for hitters, I frequently find it difficult to judge offensive performance accurately, which is why I’ve included wRC+ as a judge of offensive performance against the rest of the league.
Link to master article with all 2015 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that includes our selections as the Palm Beach Cardinals Relief Pitcher and Starting Pitcher of the Year.
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