The All-Star break is a good chance to relive the first half of the season that was.
Photo courtesy Grant Paulsen
Most Valuable Player: Michael Taylor
Taylor has elevated his game to levels we haven’t seen on City Island in a long time. His at-bats are don’t miss viewing and he is the rare five-tool player that has lived up to the hype. I expect Taylor to get a September call-up to help the Nationals on the stretch run.
The Best Free Agent Pick-Up: TIE – Paolo Espino/Quincy Latimore
I couldn’t make up my mind between these two players who were both signed by the Nationals’ organization in mid-April. Espino has been a much-needed steadying influence from both the rotation and bullpen. Getting regular at-bats during Drew Vettleson’s injury, Latimore is having arguably his best offensive season.
The Appalachian Trail Award: Chris Michalak
Those of us on press row are pretty sure that Michalak, the Senators’ pitching coach, has unofficially already made a record number of coaching visits to the mound this season. One can only imagine the miles he’s logged with each and every trip from the dugout to the mound.
Comeback of the Year: Brian Jeroloman
It’s been a long road back for Jeroloman. But to see him healthy and performing on a nightly basis is one of the joys of the 2014 season.
The Hotter Than Africa Award: Matt Skole
As the temperatures have warmed up, so has the Senators’ corner infielder. After missing all but two games last season, it took Skole a while to get going in 2014. But the Georgia Tech product has been finding his groove at the plate and improving every day (as this chart illustrates).
The Loyal Customer Discount: The starting rotation
Hospitals throughout Central PA have been able to financially stay afloat with just the business the Senators’ starters have given them this year. Felipe Rivero, Matt Purke, Rob Gilliam, Omar Poveda, and Sammy Solis have all spent considerable time on the disabled list. Harrisburg has already used 17 starting pitchers this season, which is two more than they used all of last season.
The Frank Abagnale Catch Me If You Can Award: Jason Martinson
The Sens’ shortstop is 9th in the Eastern League with 19 stolen bases, but even more impressive is he has yet to get caught this season. Only Martinson and Portland’s Sean Coyle have remained perfect on the basepaths while swiping double-digit bases (and Coyle is six behind Martinson).
The Literally Out of Left Field Award: Destin Hood
After two disappointing seasons on City Island, one of the last players expected to make an impact this year was Hood. But the outfielder carried over a strong spring training to the regular season where he displayed better pitch recognition and approach at the plate that has made a world of difference. After just a month in Harrisburg, Hood was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse where he has continued to thrive, batting .301/.341/.489 through 58 games.
The Monet Impressionist Award : Kevin Keyes
The Texas slugger has impressed with more than just his eye-popping power. Sure, he leads all Nationals’ minor leaguers in home runs and RBIs, but Keyes has displayed a great approach with both runners in scoring position and with two strikes. Also, he has played a much better outfield than most give him credit for.
The Stat of the Year: 393 games
The Senators have gone a franchise history-most 393 games since hitting their last grand slam (Stephen King on September 1, 2011). To put that in context, they have batted 311 times since then with the bases loaded without a grand salami. During that same time, the Senators have hit a home run once every 52 plate appearances…except for even one when all the bases are occupied.