2017 Clarence A's Awards
Less than one week after finishing off their 2017 campaign, the Clarence A's have announced the winners of their annual awards:
Jay McKee Most Valuable Player: PJ Martucci
Previous winners: Pat Doherty (2015-2016), Jimmy Honsberger, Jr. (2014), Trevor Elston (2013)
In 2017, Martucci truly came into his own at the plate as well as in the field. Always a big swinging lefty, PJ found the consistency he was always looking for, batting .558, a drastic jump from his .200 average in 2016. In 14 games, he racked up 4 XBH (2 2B, 2 3B), a team-best 20 RBI, tied for the team best with 30 total bases (Pat Doherty being the other), and a 1.330 OPS. What's most impressive, though, is the only 3 strikeouts in 49 plate appearances, compared to the 12 in 56 plate appearances in 2016. In the field, Martucci also took control of the first base position, becoming practically automatic on ground balls and continued to show his awareness and knowledge of the game in key situations. PJ only made 3 appearances on the mound this year, including two starts, and had a 1-0 record with 6 strikeouts in 7 innings of work.
Best Hitter: PJ Martucci
Previous winners: Pat Doherty (2015-2016), Jimmy Honsberger, Jr. (2014)
Best Pitcher: Dillon Boyack
Previous winners: Mason King (2014-2016)
An award owned by Mason King over the last 3 years, Boyack burst onto the scene this year and owned his competition. In 8 appearances (7 starts), he went 5-2 with a 1.31 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 32 innings of work. Dillon finished with 48 strikeouts to only 15 walks and allowed only 28 hits and 6 earned runs. There's no doubt that his ability to keep his fastball low in the zone, combined with his mix of changeups, curveballs, and sliders, were what got batters to either watch pitches go by or hit into groundouts, and if you ever watched this kid pitch there's no doubt in your mind he was taking the hardware home for this award.
Unsung Hero: Jake Garvelli
Previous winners: John Strohmeier (2016), Andrew King (2015), Evan Weitz (2014)
There was no doubt Garvelli was getting this award this year. While getting robbed of hits more than any hitter we've ever witnessed in the history of baseball, Jake still managed to hit .410 with a 1.027 OPS. There was never any doubt of his abilities, even when he was making fielders look like gold glovers, and to his credit he continued to keep a short memory and grind it out. In the field, Garvelli continued his gold glove-like play, making every play he was asked and even some that a normal player has no business making. Jake also made a major impact as a base coach, coaching in more runs than anyone else on the A's. Though he never saw action toward the top of the lineup, Garvelli was scorching hot in the middle of the order and there was no reason to take him out of that spot. Those middle of the order guys don't typically get the love and recognition they deserve, but Jake changed that this year with the tremendous productivity he had.
Coach's Award: Pat Doherty
Previous winners: Jimmy Honsberger, Jr. (2016)
There was no way this kid wasn't going home with an award. He was in the conversation, along with Jimmy Honsberger, Jr. for the Jay McKee MVP award, but Martucci wanted to make sure he had a horse in that race and made a very convincing argument to take that one home. But Pat had another Pat year and continued to do things his own way, hitting .460 with 4 XBH (2 2B, 3B, HR) with 14 RBI, only 3 strikeouts, an uncharacteristic 7 walks, and a 1.217 OPS. Doherty also continued to be a workhorse on the mound, making appearances in 11 of the team's 17 games, and throwing a team-high 34.2 innings. Pat also took control of the team in the absence of manager Jordan Honsberger and made sure the guys didn't skip a beat.
Most Improved Player: Eric Nash
Previous winners: Mitch Alexin (2016)
While PJ Martucci made a strong case for this award, the strong argument can be made that Eric Nash made overall biggest jump from 2016 to 2017. In 2016, Nash hit .167 with 16 walks and 9 strikeouts in 15 games, but clearly found his swing and built confidence this summer. Eric finished hitting .364 with 16 hits (up from 7 last season) and a .939 OPS (up from .649 in 2016). Nash also played 8 of 9 positions this season (did not appear on the mound) and showed his teammates and the league that he can play all of those positions well. Eric's always been a talented and heady ball player, and the jump he made form 2016 to 2017 showed that he can be a key piece on this team for years to come.
Best Rookie: Dillon Boyack
Previous winners: Anthony Castellani (2016), John Strohmeier (2015), Zach Zabel (2014), Sully Curry (2013)
Boyack was already mentioned in this piece for his pitching dominance, but people forget what he was able to do at the plate. Dillon finished the season hitting .333 with 3 XBH (2B, 3B, HR) with a .965 OPS. There was no doubt he coming into the season that he was going to be a big bat for the A's, and even after a slow start his rookie campaign at the plate, Boyack seemed to deliver every time it was needed. He was also a force to be reckoned with at third base, making every play he was asked to and quietly owning his position. It was hard to not look at Dylan Moscato and Chris Salasny for the award, because they did more than hold their own, but Boyack had shown time and time again that he's a game-changing talent, no matter where he was on the field.
Congratulations to all of our winners!