Batter of the Year: Padres Eugene affiliate

Figuring out the criterion for selection as Batter of the Year in the Northwest League was just as challenging as picking the winner. Forty games was the mark, which would equal over half of the games the Eugene Emeralds played this year.

One player who was screwed with my self-imposed rule was Drew Davidson who had a fine season for the Ems before being promoted to Fort Wayne. Sorry Drew. Maybe if you weren't having such a good year you would have stayed in Eugene!

That left three players with a legitimate claim to the title. Chase Headley, Nick Hundley and Mike Sansoe.

Looking at the numbers for Headley, his .268 average didn't inspire fear, although his 34 walks gave him a healthy on base percentage.

"It's funny," Headley began, "I have never had close to as many walks as I had this year (including his college campaign). I just wanted to be more patient at the plate and guess it worked out."

He was able to smack 23 extra base hits in 57 games, accounting for 39 percent of his hits. He ended his Emerald season with a seven game hitting streak and reached base in 20 straight games before moving up to Fort Wayne for the final few games of the season.

Headley bat third in the order but was not adept at driving in runners when they reached scoring position, batting .231 in those situations.

Hundley had a season very similar to Headley. He hit .250 with 15 extra base hits in 43 games and drew 33 walks to ensure a high on base percentage.

"I try to drive the ball into the gaps," said Hundley. "For me personally I just look for a pitch up in the zone that I can do something with and go from there."

He spent the majority of his time batting from the cleanup spot, but hit .222 with runners in scoring position and had one hit in 22 at bats with RISP and two outs.

Working against him was a number of passed balls on the defensive side of the game, leaving many wondering why such a sure fielder would experience those woes.

Sansoe worked his magic from the leadoff spot and was tasked with getting on base and using his speed to make things happen. In 49 games, before injury ended his year prematurely, Sansoe hit .290 with a .342 on base percentage.

The outfielder led the team in runs scored, steals and hit .317/.360 from the leadoff position. While he did not have the power numbers of the aforementioned players, he was capable of doing damage by being feisty on the basepaths.

He reached base in 29 straight games during one stretch of the season with two hitting streaks of ten-plus games mixed in.

"My career is going to be based on singles, doubles and on base percentage so I strive for that," said Sansoe. "A guy who plays good defense, steals some bases and as I mature hits some homers."

Too many times it seems the power guys win out. Chicks dig the long ball. But the small ball wins games as well, especially when the pitching gets tight in crunch time. That is why Sansoe takes the title in this round – Eugene's Batter of the Year.

Ironically, it was Sansoe who hit .316 with RISP to pace the threesome.

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