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 2014 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.
40. Richie Mirowski
The reliever that surprised a lot of people with his stellar numbers in 2013 returned to Harrisburg to start the season. Unfortunately, Mirowski was not the same pitcher and was eventually placed on the disabled list which probably explains his struggles. The Oklahoma Baptist product returned to Potomac for a month and a half compiling a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings.
39. Brett Brach
Brach was one of many pitchers the Nationals signed out of independent ball during the season. The Freehold, NJ native’s high point of the season was six shutout innings he threw in his debut for the Senators. One really bad start and four halfway decent appearances later, Brach was released. I’m not sure who he pissed off for such drastic measures when other inferior guys kept collecting paychecks.
38. Jose Lozada
Lozada played most of this season in Syracuse before returning to Harrisburg for his third season on City Island. The utility player was a bright spot on offense in July, hitting .373 during 16 games. A hamstring injury ended his season early and his future with the organization is up in the air as he becomes a minor league free agent at the conclusion of the World Series.
37. Sam Runion
After beginning the season with the Montgomery Biscuits, Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Rays, Runion hooked on with the Nationals organization and climbed up two levels after initially being assigned to Potomac. While in Harrisburg, the right-handed reliever allowed runs in only two of his nine appearances to earn a promotion.
36. Austin Voth
It’s tough to judge Voth on his performance in a Senators uniform. 2014 marked Voth’s first full minor league season and by the end of the season, the grind obviously got to the right-hander. In Hagerstown and Potomac, Voth put up an impressive 2.10 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in 19 starts. But during the last month in Harrisburg, he posted a 6.52 ERA and 1.60 WHIP with probably his worst two starts of the season.
35. Mitch Canham
After hitting his only home run of the season on Opening Day, Canham spent most of the year on the phantom DL and as the de facto bullpen catcher. Canham hit .265 playing every game of the last week of the season to raise his overall batting average a tick above the Mendoza line.
34. Zach Kroenke
The former Arizona Diamondback southpaw was not good for the Senators this season yet due to a lack of available arms kept his job and kept getting the ball every fifth day. Kroenke made 16 starts and gave up five or more runs in half of them. After a two-start stint in Syracuse in late June, Kroenke returned to Harrisburg and worked past five innings only once down the stretch in ten starts.
33. Bryan Harper
Bryce’s older brother earned a promotion mid-season and for some reason was sent back down to Potomac after a little over a month. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. In 12 games for the Senators, he allowed runs in only four of them and had made four straight clean appearances at the time of his demotion. I’m not saying he was great. In fact, there were times where he just lost the feel for every pitch in his repertoire. But he still battled and I’d rather see him throw and progress at Double-A.
32. Warner Madrigal
The veteran journeyman made six appearances for the Senators sandwiched between stays in Syracuse. In those games, Madrigal provided a legitimate back of the bullpen option for Daubach and he used him to finish games the Senators were leading four times.
31. Zach Jackson
Not a lot of good things can be said about the first two weeks of the 2014 season for the Senators. One of those though was the effectiveness of Jackson during his five appearances. The southpaw sidewinder didn’t allow a run even though the opponents treated the rest of the Sens’ pitching staff like Henry Rowengartner before the broken arm.
30. Cole Leonida
In his first go-round at Double-A, Leonida proved to be a serviceable backstop. The right-handed hitting Georgia Tech product was especially effective against left-handed pitchers batting .280 and slugging .420 off them. Expect Leonida to return to Harrisburg as part of a catching tandem with Pedro Severino.
29. Rafael Martin
The last couple of seasons have seen the former beer leaguer fighting through a number of injuries including a dead arm. Well, if this is what a healthy Rafael Martin brings to the table I want more. Discard his disastrous first appearance with the Senators and the right-hander made 37 other appearances between three levels where opponents hit .152 off him and he posted a miniscule ERA of 0.47.
28. Sean Nicol
Players come and go. That’s the nature of the business. But I’ll miss Sean Nicol and what he meant to the Harrisburg Senators, captured perfectly here by colleague Geoff Morrow.
27. Justin Bloxom
Kevin Keyes’ promotion and success at Double-A was the writing on the wall for Bloxom’s career with the Nationals organization. Despite putting him at the hot corner 26 times in the last two seasons, Bloxom was nothing more than a 1B-DH as his nine errors in 52 chances at third base should prove. After getting released along with Nicol, he latched on with the Lynchburg Hillcats (A+ affiliate of the Braves) before getting his walking papers near the end of August.
26. James Simmons
The former first-round draft pick for the A’s in 2007 was much more effective for the Senators out of the bullpen than he was as a starter. As a reliever, Simmons posted a 1.99 ERA and held opponents to a .173 batting average over 11 appearances and 22.2 innings. But as a starter when teams were able to see him 2-3 times a game, his ERA ballooned to 6.83 and the opponents batting average skyrocketed to .306.