Project COBB has published the 2013 National Baseball League leaders in the various categories and Herts Falcons players have picked up the Most Valuable Batter and Most Valuable Pitcher awards which are the most prestigious NBL individual prizes. They are the equivalent of MLB’s MVP and Cy Young Awards.
Most Valuable Batter has been awarded to Ryan Bird. This is the third time that he receives this award. He previously won it in 2008 and 2009 as a member of the Richmond Flames so this year he receives it for the first time as a member of the Herts Falcons. This season he led in all the key batting statistics including batting average (.549), on-base average (.623), slugging average (.843), runs batted in (31). These numbers are a continuation of Ryan Bird’s dominance in the NBL over the years. In the modern era he leads the NBL in career batting average (.500), career on-base average (.572) and career slugging average (.808).
In the Home Run category Maikel Azcuy (Harlow Nationals) and Kevin Carr (Lakenheath Diamondbacks) were tied in the lead with 4 home runs. Maikel Azcuy was the Home Run Champion in two previous seasons 2012 (4) and 2010 (6).
Southampton’s Victor Aizpurua was the Stolen Base King setting a new season record of 46 stolen bases. He currently stands on 108 stolen bases in his NBL career just 5 behind the career stolen base leader, Robbie Unsell.
The Most Valuable Pitcher award went to Herts Falcons’ Robbie Unsell. This was a close race as Pietro Sollecito of the London Mets had an outstanding year on the mound leading in wins (7) and ERA (1.23), however when factoring in all the pitching data Robbie Unsell came out on top. This is the second time that Unsell receives this award. The first came in 2011.
Kevin Carr led the league in strikeouts (82), however many would use the Strikeouts per 9 Innings statistic to determine the strikeout king and the leader in that was Bracknell and Great Britain National Team rising star, Jordan Edmonds with 11.3.
Robbie Unsell was also awarded as the Most Valuable Two-Way Player, an award he reclaims after first receiving it in 2011. This category recognizes players with outstanding performances in both offence and defence during the season. This is a very fitting tribute to a player who has been a true superstar since his NBL arrival in 2009. In his first 3 years, while he was with the Richmond Flames, Herts fans could only admire Robbie Unsell’s performances from a distance, but in the last two seasons they have had the opportunity to appreciate just how fortunate British baseball has been to have a player like Robbie Unsell in its ranks. Most importantly, Robbie Unsell’s human qualities brought a lot more to Herts. He brought something for which a statistical category has not been created yet.
Herts feature heavily in the Fielding Awards which are the equivalents of MLB’s end of season gold glove awards. Robbie Unsell picks up the gold glove at Second Base, Cristobal Hiche’s outstanding performances in centerfield are recognised as he picks up one of the three outfield gold gloves, but we must give a special mention to Xavier Gonzalez who made his NBL debut in 2013 with the Herts Falcons and he stood out as one of the most accomplished shortstops in the NBL for many years. In a way this was expected when Herts announced him at the start of the season along with his impressive CV which included the fact that he has previously been under professional contract with the Minnesota Twins minor league teams, however it has been a joy for British baseball fans to see Gonzalez in person. He shone not just defensively, but offensively too and is proving to be one of the very few 5-tool players in the NBL. We strongly recommend to young baseball players who want to develop to come and see Xavi Gonzalez in action.
GOLD GLOVE AWARDS
POSITION PLAYER TEAM
Catcher Will Lintern Harlow Nationals
First base Jarrod Pretorius Harlow Nationals
Second base Robbie Unsell Herts Falcons
Third base Martin Tucker London Mets
Shortstop Xavier Gonzalez Herts Falcons
Outfielder Cristobal Hiche Herts Falcons
Outfielder Gio Escalona Essex Arrows
Outfielder Edwin Alcantara Harlow Nationals
For more details about the NBL awards, statistics from the 2013 season, career stats and a lot more visit ProjectCOBB.