As part of our recap of the Senators’ season, an annual tradition around these parts is to list all of the players and where they would rank as the team’s MVP for 2013 by what they contributed to the team’s successes and failures.
If you agree or disagree with any ranking feel free to leave a comment and try and sway my way of thinking.
25. Robbie Ray
Along with Hill and Cole, Ray was one of the good, young starting pitchers promoted mid-season from Potomac. The southpaw adjusted well to Double-A as he did a much better job limiting his walks (a career low 3.3 per 9) while maintaining his rate of recording a strikeout each inning. If Ray is going to stick as a starter he needs to continue developing his changeup to go along with his solid fastball and plus slider.
24. Blake Treinen
There are no two ways around it, Treinen was not a fan of pitching at Metro Bank Park. While home in the supposed friendly confines for 13 games, the righthander gave up eight of his nine home runs, carried a 4.83 ERA, and was tagged with six of his seven losses. Remove three appearances where he worked 6+ innings without allowing a run, and his ERA balloons all the way up to 6.75. Compare that with a 1.74 ERA on the road in eight games and I’m wondering if Treinen ever wants to see MBP again.
23. Jimmy VanOstrand
Injuries hindered the second half of VanOstrand’s season, but the native Canadian provided his usual pop when he did find his name penciled into the lineup. VanOstrand swatted ten homers and nineteen doubles in 76 games with the Senators. If this is the end of the line for VanOstrand, and it very well may be, he should know that he hung ’em up with class and as a true professional.
22. Matt Grace
Prior to 2013, Grace had been used primarily as a starter logging some considerable innings the last two seasons in Hagerstown and Potomac. But this year saw a change in roles for the southpaw as he was shifted to the bullpen where he excelled for the better part of the season. Although he struggled at the tail end of the season, expect Grace to be a key piece of the Senators’ bullpen in 2014.
21. Taylor Hill
Don’t let the 2-7 record fool you. Hill was so much better than that indicates. In 11 starts with the Senators, Hill allowed two or fewer unearned runs eight times. His teammates also didn’t help the cause as the Vanderbilt product rarely received any run support; the Senators scored more than three runs in only two of his starts. Hill doesn’t have the dominating stuff of his fellow starters so he walks a fine line where he needs to command all of his pitches and induce tons of groundball outs.
20. Jerad Head
The former Indians farmhand added a veteran presence to this club with his .253 average behind 21 doubles, 13 homers, and 46 RBIs. Head gets his money’s worth each at-bat as he’s rarely cheated with the kind of maximum effort swings he gives every time at the plate. He carried that mentality out into the field as well as he always ended up in a full somersault after making a throw home from the outfield.
19. A.J. Cole
The first time I saw Cole pitch was on MiLB TV at the Trenton Thunder in only his second Double-A start. I honestly didn’t see what all the hype was about despite him picking up the win after allowing no earned runs in six innings of work. One week later, Cole made his home debut and everything that didn’t translate on camera came through seeing him in person. His lanky frame and easy delivery mask a ball that just jumps out of his hand and explodes on the batter. The future is very bright for Cole.
18. Sandy Leon
First glance at Leon’s offensive numbers might cause most fans to have trouble keeping their last meal down. After all, the backstop followed up a career year in 2012 with a measly .177 batting average in 2013. But look closer and the switch-hitter’s main struggles were from the left side of the plate as he hit .142 with only seven extra-base hits in over twice as many at-bats than as a righthanded hitter. Also, Leon deserves a ton of credit for his handling of the Senators’ pitching staff which carried this club to a postseason berth.
17. Billy Burns
Burns’ promotion to Harrisburg in early August added a much needed shot of energy to the Senators. The “fastest man on the planet” was a threat anytime he put the ball in play as he struck out only 17 times in 138 plate appearances. Burns swiped 20 bases (only caught twice) while with the Senators to bring his 2013 total to 74 stolen bases on a 91% success rate. I just wish he’d press his luck a little more in situations when they need a runner in scoring position.
16. Richie Mirowski
Whoever took a chance on Mirowski in the 45th round of the 2011 draft for the Nationals looks like a genius at this point. The 24-year old from San Mateo, California has dominated at every level including 13 appearances with the Senators where he held opponents to a .197 batting average and struck out 29 batters in 20.2 innings. Mirowski has the chance to impress in the Arizona Fall League and showcase his cutter and changeup.
15. Anthony Rendon
After appearing in only 43 games in an injury-plagued 2012, the Nationals were looking to just get a full and healthy season out of Rendon. But after 14 games in Harrisburg, Rendon was summoned to Washington to fill in for the injured Ryan Zimmerman. It would be short-lived though as the infielder returned from the majors after a week and a half. All he did upon his return though was to tear the cover off the ball in the next 19 games to the tune of a .338/.460/.676 slashline with 17 RBIs.
14. Ian Krol
The A’s included Krol as the PTBNL in the Michael Morse trade no doubt because of his checkered past that included an alcohol-related incident in high school and a suspension in 2012 for an anti-gay tweet. But the hard-throwing southpaw had a relatively incident-free season and was a revelation on the mound. During two months with the Senators, Krol pitched to a 0.69 ERA and 0.808 WHIP while holding opponents to a .157 batting average before getting the call to the Nationals.
13. Josh Johnson
Returning to Harrisburg for the fourth straight season, JJ could have sulked about the move. But instead, he went about his business as usual and once again became the hart and soul of the team before he was promoted to Syracuse in late June. He also owns my favorite memory of the season when he clubbed a game-winning, pinch-hit home run in his first at-bat since he left the team for two weeks after his father passed away.
12. Tyler Herron
After flaming out with the Cardinals organization in 2009, Herron didn’t waste the second chance the Nationals gave him on his long road back through independent ball and Tommy John surgery. Herron earned a promotion to Harrisburg in mid-May and was a consistent pitcher for the Senators in a multitude of roles. He worked long relief, made one spot start, and even assumed the closer duties when Aaron Barrett went down at the end of the season.
11. Neil Holland
The Louisville product was a stalwart of the bullpen as he compiled a 2.84 ERA in 50.2 innings. The sidewinder put up zeroes in 31 of his 41 appearances on the season and the numbers show that he was a better pitcher with runners on base.