This article by Joe Gray first appeared on britishbaseball.org
Maikel Azcuy from the Herts Falcons and Dan Weigel from the London Mets have been awarded the 2015 Most Valuable Batter and Most Valuable Pitcher awards for the 2015 National Baseball League season, following the triple crowns they claimed in their respective disciplines.
Azcuy won the batting title with a .467 average, led the league in runs batted in with 28, and tied Herts Falcons’ teammate Edwin Alcantara for the home run title with six round-trippers.
Weigel led the league in wins with a 7-0 record, and also led the league in strike-outs with 54 and in earned-run average with a mark of 2.25.
For Maikel Azcuy, a Cuban native who now holds a British passport, 2015 was the fourth straight year in which he has either tied for the league lead in home runs or won the title outright. He also won his third RBI title in four seasons, moving him past Simon Pole’s tally of two for the all-time lead. However, his batting title was a career first, coming in Azcuy’s 10th season in the NBL.
And the batting title was a close-run thing, as Azcuy just pipped Essex’s Jamie Gregory, going 28-for-60 (.467) to Gregory’s 28-for-61 (.459).
Callum Vinall of the Bracknell Blazers also deserves mention. Including Cup games, which the BBF counted in official season tallies for NBL players, Vinall batted .533 for the year. But without the Cup games, he did not amass enough plate appearances to be eligible for the title.
Azcuy’s six home runs in 2015 took his NBL career tally to 39, which pushed him past Simon Pole (35) for the all-time lead. Next among active players is Grant Delzoppo, with 26 long-balls.
Azcuy also moved past 200 career RBIs; his current tally of 201 is just 36 short of Brad Thompson’s all-time record.
Dan Weigel’s pitching triple crown reflected an impressive season on the mound. HIs 7-0 won-lost record represented the most wins amassed by a pitcher without a single loss since Roberto Almanzar went 9-0 in his own triple crown effort in 2012.
Weigel’s WHIP of 0.84 was the sixth-best all-time figure in the NBL and the best outright since 2003.
In terms of career pitching figures, the most significant development in 2015 was Matt Gilbert becoming the NBL’s all-time strikeout leader with a career tally of 418. This moved him past Cody Cain (409), but Cain retains the highest career strikeout rate with 12.7 per nine innings. The next highest strikeout tally among active players is Michael Osborn’s total of 398.
Meanwhile, Ryan Bird’s cameo role during the season improved his all-time record batting average (.508), on-base average (.577), and slugging average (.822).
Finally, Luke Foley became the NBL’s all-time stolen base leader, with his tally of 121 eight higher than that of second-placed Robbie Unsell.
The best single-game batting performance during the season was by Samuel Morris for the London Mets in a game against the Southampton Mustangs on 2 August. Morris had a pair of home runs, one a grand slam, as well as a single and a double. This was the first time a player had amassed at least 10 total bases in an NBL game since 2012.
In the same game, his teammate Jamie Dix also hit a pair of homers, including a grand slam. Dix would go on to accumulate four hits in Game Two of the NBL National Championship final – including another home run – against the same opposition.
The Mets’ victory by two games to nil in the best-of-three final gained them their third national championship, a feat matched or bettered by only 10 teams in British baseball history.
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