The start and finish of the Mud Hens 2007 season were disappointing bookends during an otherwise stellar year. Mike Rojas emerged as a likeable, successful interim manager in the place of Larry Parish and new and old players alike, helped the Mud Hens surge for their third straight International League West Division title.
Most valuable player:
Although Mike Hessman was selected as the International League's Most Valuable player, it is tough to single out his performance on a team that produced so many feel good stories. Hessman was second in home runs during the first half of the season before being promoted to Detroit.
Ryan Raburn also led the Mud Hens for much of the season in walks, and on base percentage before being called up to the major leagues. Raburn's season highlights include: recording a five walk game, and hitting for the cycle in back-to-back nights. And how can we forget the seven RBI night in Chicago?
Timo Perez emerged as a great outfielder for the Mud Hens when he began the season on a 20-game hitting streak. Perez led the Mud Hens in doubles this year and batted over .300 for the entire season. He too was called up to Detroit a few times.
Another surprising story for the Mud Hens this season was their strong outfield depth. After Raburn and Perez were called up to the majors for extended periods of time, Erick Almonte stepped in and performed beautifully.
Virgil Vasquez also emerged as a future starter candidate after a wonderful season with Toledo. Vasquez got two spot starts for Detroit this year. Jordan Tata didn't pitch in as many games as Vasquez this season because of injuries and remains more of a question mark.
Areas which need improvement:
The Mud Hens bullpen and catchers were deplorable this season. The departure of Roman Colon and the Jason Karnuth injury didn't help. Neither did acquisitions for Anastacio Martinez or Jose Cappellan. The bullpen, excluding Aquilino Lopez was sporadic as Detroit's this season and was an obvious chink the Mud Hens armor.