Vancouver Canadians 2015 Report, part 1: Blue Jays from Away Awards

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The next stop in our tour of the Toronto Blue Jays’ minor league system is back in our home and native land, Vancouver.

 

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Manager John Schneider couldn’t lead the Canadians back to the playoffs as the club missed the postseason for the first time as a Blue Jays affiliate. The Cs finished the season 34-42, falling short of their Pythagorean record of 38-38, despite actually finishing fourth in the league (out of eight) in both runs per game and runs allowed. The Cs’ hitters averaged 21.5 years of age (above the league average of 20.9) while the pitchers were right at the league average at 21.4 years old.

While it wasn’t as old a team as we might have seen in previous years, it also wasn’t as prospect laden. As usual, the Blue Jays stocked the Canadians with several, well, Canadians, with Justin Atkinson, Connor Panas, Andrew Case, Sean Ratcliffe and Tom Robson representing the Maple Leaf.

 

Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion

 

For those of you who followed the minor league reports here, you’ll know that I “awarded” Player of the Game (PotG) accolades on a game-by-game basis. It should comfort you to know that I’ve been keeping track of these daily awards and my rationale for the system is as follows.

The Player of the Game Awards were determined by a number of factors that included who I thought had the most impact on the game and who might have gone “above and beyond.” Most nights, there was just one Player of the Game. If there was, he earned one point. If I thought that either a) no one stood out enough to merit a single PotG, or b) two or more players were outstanding and deserved mention, I split the point up into two, three or four shares. If two players earned PotG mention, they each received 0.5 points and if three players earned mentions, they each received 0.3 points. There were occasions that I felt that no one merited the award and therefore, I did not give out any points.

Here are the final standings for Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game for the Vancouver Canadians:

 

Sean Hurley 5
Justin Atkinson 5
Connor Panas 4.5
Andrew Guillotte 4.3
Lane Thomas 4
Gunnar Heidt 3.1
Evan Smith 3
Tayler Saucedo 3
Juan Kelly 2
Carl Wise 2
Francisco Rios 2
Josh DeGraaf 2
Ryan Metzler 2
Rolando Segovia 2
Angel Perdomo 1.8
Earl Burl 1.5
J.C. Cardenas 1.5
Michael Kraft 1.5
Ryan Hissey 1.5
Clinton Hollon 1
Austin Davis 1
Juan Tejada 1
Stuart Holmes 1
Gabriel Cenas 1
Jon Wandling 0.8
Kevin Garcia 0.8
Brandon Hinkle 0.5
Conor Fisk 0.5
Alexis maldonado 0.5
Travis Bergen 0.5
Turner Lee 0.5
Daniel Lietz 0.5
James Lynch 0.5
Tom Robson 0.5
Bob Wheatley 0.5
Jonathan Harris 0.5
Sean Ratcliffe 0.5

 

Justin Atkinson
Justin Atkinson

It’s another tie! Sean Hurley was one of the offensive leaders of the Canadians and Justin Atkinson did nothing but regain his hitting stroke after being sent down from Lansing. Atkinson’s resurgence allowed him to tie for the win despite coming to the plate about 60 times fewer than Hurley. It was actually very close at the top of the table this year, with five players coming within one point of the win. Honourable mentions go to Canadian Connor Panas, Andrew Guillotte and Lane Thomas who spent much of the year battling a wrist injury.

Congrats to Sean Hurley and Justin Atkinson, our co-Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champions!

 

Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year

 

In the offensive categories, one of my biggest indicators is OPS. While not perfect, this gives us a player who is both getting on base and hitting with some authority. The runaway leader in this statistic for the Vancouver Canadians this year was Sean Hurley and the 23 year old may just have had a breakout season after struggling through two previous seasons with batting averages that maxed out at .216. For the Canadians, Hurley hit .253/.363/.441 (for an OPS of .804), leading the club in plate appearances, home runs (9), triples (4), and slugging percentage while tying Ryan Hissey at the top of the list for OBP and finishing second in hits to Justin Atkinson and third in doubles behind Atkinson and Lane Thomas.

Congrats to Sean Hurley!

Honourable mentions: Justin Atkinson, Ryan Hissey, Connor Panas, Andrew Guillotte

 

Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year

 

Clinton Hollon
Clinton Hollon

Selecting a Pitcher of the Year was tough. Really tough. I look for pitchers who are dominant at the level over the most innings. This is why starters generally have the edge but for the Canadians, few pitchers really dominated. The winner this year, in a very close race, was Clinton Hollon. Of the pitchers in contention with more than 30 innings, Hollon had the best combination of ERA (5th), FIP (2nd), strikeout rate (2nd), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3rd) and WHIP (2nd). And he did it all while coming back from Tommy John surgery last year and at 20 years of age.

Congrats to Clinton Hollon, the Pitcher of the Year!

Honourable mentions: Brandon Hinkle, Tayler Saucedo, Francisco Rios

 

Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year

 

Andrew Case
Andrew Case

This is another difficult award. There were several strong relievers in the group for the Vancouver Canadians and I was looking deeper into the peripheral stats to come up with a winner. I’m going towards the middle ground for this selection. Like my selection of Clinton Hollon for Pitcher of the Year, I’m selecting Andrew Case and Brandon Hinkle as the co-Relievers of the Year, I’m attaching value to being very good in a number of categories without necessarily having to be the best in any. That said, Case did lead the Canadians (who pitched at least 20 innings) in one category (strikeout rate) while having the third-best ERA, sixth-best FIP and fourth-best WHIP. Hinkle had the best ERA on the club (1.14) and although his 23 walks and 4.34 FIP were working against him, he only allowed 24 hits in 39 1/3 innings.

Congrats to Andrew Case and Brandon Hinkle, our Relievers of the Year!

Honourable mentions: Turner Lee, Josh DeGraaf

 

Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player

 

Sean Hurley had an almost unbelievable turnaround from year to year winning him the Most Improved Player Award. Hurley went from hitting .157/.267/.270 (for a .536 OPS) in 2014, split between Vancouver and Bluefield, to a .253/.363/.441 (.804 OPS) in 2015. When you compare his wRC+ (weighted Runs Created plus) from Vancouver alone in 2014 with what he did in 2015, there’s a phenomenal 89 point swing (from 43 to 132). This means that he went from hitting 57% below the league average in 2014 to 32% above the league average in 2015.

Honourable Mention: Sean Ratcliffe

 

Blue Jays from Away Best Newcomer

 

Another difficult decision had to be made here. There were several hitters who were drafted this season who distinguished themselves including Connor Panas and Ryan Hissey (the Webster Award winner) while Andrew Guillotte had a solid year, getting on base and then stealing them. Tayler Saucedo was also in the running with seven strong starts for the Canadians.

On the strength of his outstanding work with the Bluefield Blue Jays (for which he wasn’t eligible for an award) in addition to the Vancouver Canadians, pitcher Tayler Saucedo is the Vancouver Canadians’ Best Newcomer.

Honourable mention: Connor Panas, Ryan Hissey, Andrew Guillotte

 

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