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2013 Tony Awards: Offensive Player of the Year

2013 Tony Awards: Offensive Player of the Year
November 1, 2013
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Today we continue the IBI’s year-end awards with the announcement of the Offensive Player of the Year.

This award goes to the position player in the Indians organization that had the best year.  Like with all the awards so far, this is 100% based on performance and not on prospect standing.

Also, the players eligible for the award had to play in at least two-thirds of their season. For a player who played from the start of the season on a full season team this would be 96 games, for a player that started their season once short season leagues got started this would be 50 games (rookie level would be 37 games).

Here are the 2013 Tony Awards so far:

Rookie of the Year: Clint Frazier (OF)
Defensive Player of the Year: Tyler Holt (OF)
Biggest Disappointment: Trevor Bauer (RHP)
Biggest Breakthrough: Carlos Moncrief (OF)
Comeback Player of the Year: C.C. Lee (RHP)
Reliever of the Year: Preston Guilmet (RHP)
Pitcher of the Year: Danny Salazar (RHP)

This is the final “Tony Award” to be handed out, but this weekend I will provide the final award piece which will be my All-Tony team where I list the best players this season position-by-position in a “1st team” and “2nd team” format.

Again, these awards are simply for fun to hand out at the end of the year.  Also, the Cleveland Indians in no way whatsoever had any input in these awards.

Onto the nominees…

Offensive Player of the Year Nominees

(in alphabetical order)

Jesus Aguilar (1B)
130 G, .275 AVG, 66 R, 28 2B, 0 3B, 16 HR, 105 RBI, 56 BB, 107 K, .776 OPS

Aguilar was a run producing machine this season at Double-A Akron and broke the franchise RBI record in the process. He was also a finalist for this award last year. His success in RBI opportunities came thanks to a .339 batting average, 4 HR, 87 RBI and .890 OPS with runners in scoring position.  He finished 17th in the Eastern League in hitting (.275), 8th in at bats (499), 8th in hits (137), 11th in doubles (28), 16th in home runs (16), 1st in RBI (105), 7th in total bases (213), 21st in slugging percentage (.427) and 16th in OPS (.776).

Clint Frazier (OF)
44 G, .297 AVG, 32 R, 11 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 17 BB, 61 K, 3 SB, .868 OPS

Frazier had a very nice pro debut as an 18-year old in the rookie level Arizona League. His performance to go along with the aptitude and work ethic during the summer league season and in Instructional League has many people excited about the unlimited potential he has and when he might impact the lineup in Cleveland. He ranked 12th in the league in batting (.297), 8th in runs (32), 11th in hits (51), 6th in triples (5), 6th in home runs (5), 9th in RBI (28), 5th in total bases (87), 2nd in strikeouts (61), 4th in slugging percentage (.506) and 4th in OPS (.868).

Erik Gonzalez (INF)
132 G, .254 AVG, 75 R, 32 2B, 12 3B, 9 HR, 76 RBI, 29 BB, 109 K, 11 SB, .710 OPS

Gonzalez may be a reach to include here, but he had such a strong season offensively and in many facets of the game that it was tough to not add him to the pool of top offensive performances this season. Bottom line, 53 extra base hits from a middle of the diamond player along with run production is pretty special, even if the plate discipline and bat to ball are questionable. He really broke through as a prospect and has a shot to open next season as the starting shortstop at High-A Carolina.

Eric Haase (C)
104 G, .250 AVG, 49 R, 23 2B, 3 3B, 14 HR, 47 RBI, 40 BB, 117 K, 2 SB, .761 OPS

Haase was a very good performer this season and has really solidified himself as a top catching prospect for the Indians. His athleticism and arm behind the plate and the power at it make him a player you can dream on, though he obviously still has a ways to go in his development. He was one of the top offensive contributors at Low-A Lake County this season and should move on to High-A Carolina next season as the regular backstop there.

Francisco Lindor (SS)
104 G, .303 AVG, 65 R, 22 2B, 7 3B, 2 HR, 34 RBI, 49 BB, 46 K, 25 SB, .787 OPS

Lindor had a fantastic season at the plate, and just continues to exceed expectations even for a high profile first round pick and consensus #1 prospect in the system. Going into the season I think it is safe to say no one saw him making the kind of strides offensively that he made, but he did, and it is a testament to his unrelenting work ethic. He’s really turned himself into an offensive force and great top of the lineup hitter, which makes him a complete player considering the great defender and baserunner he is and how he can impact a game in so many other ways.

Carlos Moncrief (OF)
129 G, .289 AVG, 77 R, 26 2B, 7 3B, 17 HR, 75 RBI, 55 BB, 98 K, 15 SB, .824 OPS

Moncrief had one of the best seasons from an Indians position player prospect in some time. He excelled defensively in right field showing a howitzer for an arm and good range, he excelled on the bases showing athleticism and quickness, and he excelled in his workouts and coaching sessions. But where he really excelled was at the plate as he finished 11th in the Eastern League in batting average (.284), 9th in at bats (489), 6th in runs scored (77), 6th in hits (139), 6th in triples (7), 11th in home runs (17), 7th in RBI (75), 4th in total bases (230), 8th in slugging percentage (.470), and 7th in OPS (.824).

Tyler Naquin (OF)
126 G, .269 AVG, 78 R, 30 2B, 6 3B, 10 HR, 48 RBI, 46 BB, 134 K, 15 SB, .739 OPS

Naquin had a nice year at High-A Carolina (.277 AVG, .769 OPS)  before he was promoted to Double-A Akron in mid-August and his final numbers took a dive thanks to his struggles in 18 games there to end the year (.225 AVG, .571 OPS). Needless to say, he was one of the better offensive players in the Carolina League this year and was a firestarter at the top of what was a potent Carolina Mudcats lineup. He finished 16th in the league in hitting (.277), 12th in runs scored (69), 12th in hits (124), 16th in doubles (27), 7th in triples (6), 10th in total bases (190), 13th in strikeouts (112), 16th in on-base percentage (.345), 11th in slugging percentage (.424) and 13th in OPS (.769).

Nellie Rodriguez (1B)
120 G, .252 AVG, 50 R, 23 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 55 BB, 114 K, 0 SB, .720 OPS

Rodriguez’s overall performance is weighed down by a rough 47 game showing at Low-A Lake County in April and May where he hit .194 with a .561 OPS. At short season Single-A Mahoning Valley he was a star playing in almost every game and hitting .287 with a .818 OPS. He ranked 12th in the NY-Penn League in batting average (.287), 3rd in games played (73), 8th in at bats (261), 6th in hits (75), 6th in home runs (9), 7th in RBI (37), 2nd in total bases (118), 10th in walks (29), 12th in on-base percentage (.366), 6th in slugging percentage (.452) and 6th in OPS (.818).

Jordan Smith (OF)
134 G, .292 AVG, 71 R, 29 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 54 RBI, 62 BB, 72 K, 18 SB, .768 OPS

If an award were given to the “Most Consistent Player”, then Smith might win it every year as the consistency of his performance year in and year out is really quite remarkable. He is not a guy that will probably ever wow you with gaudy numbers over any given season, but he can fill a box score and help a team in so many ways. His approach, consistency and style of play really reminds me of Michael Brantley. He should get an opportunity at Double-A Akron next season.

Logan Vick (OF)
128 G, .271 AVG, 70 R, 26 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 56 RBI, 95 BB, 100 K, 26 SB, .807 OPS

Vick had a monstrous season from a leadoff perspective with his ability to draw walks, get on base and create some havoc once on the bases. If he keeps this up next year with another good showing at High-A Carolina then people may no longer be asking when will Tyler Naquin make the big leagues, but when will Logan Vick? At least from an offensive perspective, Vick has been more impressive to date than Naquin so it will be interesting to see how he fares in the much tougher Carolina League next year to more accurately compare them.  He ranked 19th in batting average in the Midwest League (.281), 3rd in walks (81), 1st in on-base percentage (.413) and 11th in OPS (.820).

Joe Wendle (2B)
107 G, .295 AVG, 73 R, 32 2B, 5 3B, 16 HR, 64 RBI, 44 BB, 79 K, 10 SB, .885 OPS

Wendle had another very good showing at the plate and in his first year and a half in the system has established himself as one of the Indians best hitting prospects. He would have put up even greater numbers had he not missed 25 or so games because of an orbital fracture in May. Even still, he ranked 7th in the Carolina League in hitting (.295), 13th in hits (122), 7th in doubles (32), 4th in home runs (16), 9th in RBI (64), 4th in total bases (212), 6th in on-base percentage (.372), 2nd in slugging percentage (.513) and 2nd in OPS (.885).

And the 2013 Tony Award goes to….Joe Wendle

This one came down to Aguilar, Moncrief, and Wendle, and it was a tough decision. This may surprise a great many of you that I did not pick Aguilar because I am sure many may have felt it was a foregone conclusion he would win it, but there is so much more to a season than just the RBI totals for a player. In fact, when I got down to the final two I had to choose between Moncrief and Wendle.

I took this selection very seriously and looked at everything. When I look at the overall performance on numbers alone and compare them to how they stood in the league and also among the other players in the Indians system, it was clear that Moncrief and Wendle stood out a little more overall. See for yourself:

Carlos Moncrief .284 .354 .470 .824 .186 26 7 17 50 75 77 15 10.0% 17.8% 126
Joe Wendle .295 .372 .513 .885 .218 32 5 16 53 64 73 10 9.3% 16.7% 143
Jesus Aguilar .275 .349 .427 .776 .152 28 0 16 44 105 66 0 9.9% 18.9% 116

Aguilar gets big points for the high RBI total, but that is also a stat that is dependent upon players being on base in order to drive them in. Moncrief primarily hit fifth in the batting order, one spot behind Aguilar, so with Aguilar driving in so many runs it left little opportunities for Moncrief to do the same. Also, while Wendle mostly hit third in the lineup he only did so for 80 games so the opportunities were limited.

Aguilar had a high amount of RBI opportunities as he had 174 at bats with runners in scoring position and cashed in hitting .339 with 4 HR, 87 RBI and .890 OPS. However, Moncrief was arguably better in such situations hitting .336 with 4 HR, 57 RBI and .940 OPS in 128 at bats – 46 less opportunities than Aguilar had. And Wendle was no slouch either as he hit .311 with 2 HR, 43 RBI and .863 OPS in 135 at bats with runners in scoring position.

So while Aguilar got the nod in the RBI department, both Wendle and Moncrief got the nod in almost every other offensive category. That is not to take anything away from Aguilar or hardly a knock on him at all as he had a very good season. But when you look beyond the RBI total he was not top 10 in the league in any other major category while Moncrief and Wendle dominated the top 10 of their league in many categories. In addition, Aguilar actually had a small tick back in his numbers from 2012 as his entire slash line was lower in 2013 than in 2012 (.280/.372/.461/.833).

As for separating Moncrief from Wendle, I will admit that I initially went in with the feeling that if Aguilar was not the winner that it would be Moncrief. But, again, when I sat down and looked at the numbers for all three and compared Wendle’s performance to the rest of the league and then also compared it to Moncrief, it was just a little better. He was better than Moncrief and Aguilar in all the major areas like batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, isolated power and had a pretty significant margin in wRC+.

For those unfamiliar with what wRC+ is, it is a stat that organizations value greatly as one of the top offensive stats to show overall offensive value and measure it in runs to the league average.  League average is 100, and every point above 100 is a percentage point above league average. For example, a 125 wRC+ means a player created 25% more runs than league average. Similarly, every point below 100 is a percentage point below league average, so an 80 wRC+ means a player created 20% fewer runs than league average.

Bottom line, all three of Aguilar, Moncrief and Wendle had fantastic seasons in their own right and have established themselves as legit major league options in the near future for the Indians. With the Indians in need of some productive bats from the system very soon, these three appear to have the highest impact potential. Now they just need to continue to develop and perform, and hopefully their time to shine will come very soon.

Up Next: All-Tony team

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

November 1, 2013 - 10:06 PM EDT
If I did not pick Wendle, I would have selected Moncrief over Aguilar. Moncrief had a better season than Aguilar. Just look at the graph of numbers provided. Again, as I noted, Moncrief had the some batting average and a higher OPS with RISP but he didn't get as many RBI because of almost 50 less ABs with RISP. Moncrief and Wendle were better in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, isolated power, OPS and wRC+. The RBI are impressive, but not enough on their own when every other stat is lower.
November 1, 2013 - 9:50 PM EDT
ridiculous rbi's is right to me one of the most important statistic has always been RBI's. k:bb is important also but i think tony you like the underdog. i personally do not know what part of 105 RBI's doesnt register as high with you as it does with me. Guys are intentionally walked because of RBI's not necessarily batting percentage. I would have taken aquilar the eastern league is notorious pitchers league. The bandbox also known as huntington park is gonna provide a launching pad for jesus.
November 1, 2013 - 9:19 PM EDT
Really, really tough decision here. But Wendle was the one that ultimately made sense. Just a great year....imagine what he might have done had he not missed a month in May with the eye injury. He's not a flashy prospect, but the dude can hit. Will be interesting to see how his bat translates as he moves up to Double-A and Triple-A and maybe the bigs.
Canadian Joe
November 1, 2013 - 6:14 PM EDT
When you have a dilema, that means the choice was difficult because of a number of strong performances. Nice that we had more than the normal number of candidates to choose from. Been a while, and hope the trend continues. Good job Tony.
November 1, 2013 - 5:31 PM EDT
Just happy that all these guys had good years and look forward to them excelling as the move up to the next level
November 1, 2013 - 4:47 PM EDT
I applaud you for going the correct route here and acknowledging Moncreif and Wendle over Aguilar. All three had exciting years, but I felt the other two were grossly overlooked because of the ridiculous RBI numbers Aguilar had. Nice job with these!

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