Batter of the Year: Mobile BayBears

Finding a hitter in the Southern League worthy of such admiration to hold the Batter of Year for his team was like finding a needle in a needle stack. There was a lot to look at and not much to find. No batter who qualified hit above .282, making the need for an oracle to guide the way a necessity.

The Southern League is one of the toughest places to hit – but the Mobile team was beyond terrible at the plate. They were the worst team in the league with a .244 average as a team and that figure is 13 points lower than the closest team, Tennessee (.257). The .323 on base percentage also ranked as the bottom rung and the .358 slugging percentage was 19 points fewer than the second worst team. Throw in 121 times that they grounded into a double play, second most in the league, a league leading 1,157 strikeouts by their batters and they were the mark of futility.

There were, however, occasional bright spots.

"There were a bunch of guys who hit well at times," outfielder/first baseman Paul McAnulty said of his time in Mobile.

And one player who did it a little more consistently than the rest was Kennard Jones.

While the rest of his team managed to hit below their season average with runners in scoring position, Jones went 41-of-113, a .363 average, and tallied 56 RBI's. Ironically, Jones did not bat in any other position except the leadoff spot in his 124 games with the BayBears.

With no one else capable of knocking him in, Jones ended up third on the teams in runs scored while reaching base 31 more times than his closest competitor.

"He had a great year," batter of the year competitor McAnulty added. "He batted leadoff and had 50-some RBI's?

"That is a great year."

Jones ended the season with 60 RBI's, second-most on the team and he ranked second in on base percentage, two points behind Joe Gerber at .375.

McAnulty wasn't too shabby either. His first shot in the Majors came as a direct result of being called up from Mobile.

Spending the majority of his time in left field, McAnulty was hitting .301 through 67 games before San Diego brought him up.

When he was sent back down to Mobile a few weeks later, the left-handed hitting McAnulty struggled. Over the next 12 games he hit .167, ending the year with a team-leading .282 average, among those who qualified (75 games).

No one can blame McAnulty for still having his head in San Diego, and perhaps still thinking about that first major league at bat - with the bases loaded and one out. Pinch hitting for Miguel Ojeda, P-Mac lined out on an 0-2 pitch.

"Coming in with the bases loaded – that is what you dream about," McAnulty said. "Next time."

Three days later he got his first hit against Seattle. Coming back to Mobile, McAnulty clearly wasn't the same and it wasn't until he was promoted to Portland that he regained his stroke.

The overall success of Jones in 45 more games earned him the nod for Mobile Batter of the Year.

MadFriars Top Stories