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.
10. Neil Holland
Over the last two seasons, Holland has become a familiar face on City Island as the sidewinder has made 81 appearances with the Senators. Although this year I’m not sure Holland liked it very much at Metro Bank Park as his ERA was almost three runs better (4.73 vs. 1.82) on the road than at home.
9. Jason Martinson
Martinson produced his best season with the glove and arm as the shortstop committed a career-low 15 errors. His defense has become MLB-level, it’s now a matter of his bat catching up. He either needs to hit 40 points higher or double his power numbers to get consideration from the Nationals or any other major league club.
8. Colin Bates
The Tar Heel survived a shaky April and adjusted to Double-A in his first taste of the higher level enough to earn an All-Star appearance. In the past, Bates has thrived at consistently being around the strike zone as he has walked only 63 batters in 306.2 professional innings. There is a worry though that his reluctance to walk guys produces too many pitches getting too much of the plate as evident by opponent’s batting average of .324 OBA and a 2.07 WHIP when he’s behind in the count.
7. Tyler Herron
Herron was good in the first half of the season, but the hard-throwing right-hander was lights out after the All-Star break. The former first round draft pick for the Cardinals improved his command and cut down on hits and walks to post a 0.98 WHIP in the second half. Herron also didn’t give up a home run after allowing four before July 11.
6. Cutter Dykstra
Despite missing time around the All-Star break and at the end of the season, Dykstra still played in 100+ games for the fourth time in his minor league career. He was a sparkplug on offense as he posted a typical Dykstra slashline of .274/.349/.391 with 18 doubles, 49 RBIs, 46 runs, and ten stolen bases. Defensively his arm and range limit him to playing second base moving forward even though he’s logged 181 games at other infield positions.
5. Kevin Keyes
After Keyes has been stuck in Potomac the last two seasons, a hot start got him promoted to Harrisburg on April 25. Although he’s never going to hit for a high average, Keyes adjusted to Double-A pitching quickly and posted his career-high in home runs (24), RBIs (81), and runs (64). His worst month of the season was easily August (.578 OPS), but up until then he was a main cog in the heart of the Senators’ batting order.
4. Paolo Espino
Espino was anything and everything the Senators needed him to be. Early in the season when he bounced back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation, the former Indians’ farmhand was serviceable. But he really got his feet under him once he was trotted out there every fifth day as evident by his 3.33 ERA since June 21. Espino allowed three runs or less in 12 of his 16 starts.
3. Matt Skole
All season, we kept hearing from Brian Daubach and Doug Harris how difficult it was to miss an entire season. And despite promising signs from Skole in May and June, ultimately they were right as the Georgia Tech product was unable to put together the kind of power numbers he’s been used to in his career. After a disastrous April, Skole pulled his batting average up to a high-water mark of .259 at the All-Star break. Unfortunately, he finished the year on a downturn posting a .201/.335/.354 slashline after that.
2. Quincy Latimore
Latimore probably never thought he’d play in 108 games in the Eastern League in 2014. But after getting signed out of the Atlantic League in mid-April, injuries, promotions, and his stellar play made him a stalwart in the Senators’ lineup. Latimore recorded double-digit totals in doubles, home runs, and stolen bases on the way to the best overall season of his career.
1. Michael Taylor
No matter how you measure it, 2014 was a pretty rotten season for the Senators. Taylor, however, made coming to the yard every day worth it. If I was walking around the park, I made sure I could see his at-bats because there was always the sense that he would do something amazing. Taylor finally pulled all of his tools together to post a breakout campaign and one of the best seasons ever by a Senator.