First half awards

Thanks to three straight back-breaking, one-run losses to Southern Maryland, the York Revolution will take a rest over the next four days sitting on a disappointing 32-44 overall record.

The Revs are 12 games behind Somerset for the best overall record in the league, already two games behind the Patriots in the second-half Freedom Division standings and don’t have a hitter in the top 20 in the league in batting. Matt Padgett is the best York has and he’s hit a ho-hum .288 with three homers so far this year. Not exactly thrilling numbers, right?

Yet, even with these truths, the Revs have to be thinking positive thoughts this week. They ran into a red-hot Blue Crabs squad. York has arguably its best team on paper in its two-year history. And after three on the road in Long Island after the All-Star break, seven of 10 games await in the friendly confines of Sovereign Bank Stadium.

But before the second-half fate of the Revolution is decided, let’s visit the bright spots of the first half — not to mention the players/occurrences that helped York avoid an even worse first 76 games.

TEAM MVP: Jason Aspito/Matt Esquivel (Tie)

Kennard Jones and Chris Ashby both made compelling cases for the best Rev of the first half. But Jones and Ashby haven’t played enough games yet to qualify for this award while Aspito and Esquivel have been the constants all year. Aspito leads York in homers (10), RBIs (43), game-tying RBIs (7) and entering Sunday night he was hitting .301 in his last 38 games. That’s all on top of his superb defense. But not to be outdone, Esquivel leads York in doubles (17), game-winning RBIs (8), go-ahead RBIs (9) and entering Sunday he was hitting .336 with 35 RBIs in his last 33 games. Expect big second halves from both of these guys.

CY YOUNG: Corey Thurman

This always-dubious award — you have to be bad enough to stick around for long enough — goes to Thurman because of the way he’s pitched the last six weeks. On the way to being named Atlantic League Pitcher of the Month for June, “Big Thurm” was flat-out dominant. He was 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA in June, recently set a team record for consecutive scoreless innings (24) and also has a 2.12 ERA and a 5-1 record in his last nine starts. That five-game losing streak to start the season is a distant memory.

BEST TRANSACTION: Signing of Kennard Jones

With all apologies to the newly acquired Shea Hillenbrand and Chris Ashby, Kennard Jones has just been amazing to watch the last month. He has 14 multi-hit games in 27 games overall, an absurd .357 batting average and eight steals in 10 attempts. He had the first six-hit game in Revs’ history, the first two-triple game in Revs’ history, had eight straight hits at one point and Jones hits an insane .488 at home to boot. Too bad he’s not eligible for any fantasy league. This guy is the Atlantic League version of Jose Reyes with a hint of Carl Crawford mixed in.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: The struggles of the pitching staff

Despite a recent turnaround that has York third in the league in team ERA (4.54 ERA), the struggles of the pitching staff was easily the story of the first half. More was expected from Landon Jacobsen and Pete Munro (pictured) and no one expected every starter to struggle so mightily. And for a team that was built on pitching, York didn’t even come close to accomplishing what we all expected.

With that said, because only Dave Gassner managed to be picked up by an affiliated club, York has the advantage of having a group that has been together for awhile. They’re in a routine. They haven’t been ravaged by affiliated clubs — yet. And if Frank Castillo can solidify the No. 4 spot and York can find a consistent answer at No. 5, the trio of Corey Thurman, Aaron Myette and Aaron Rakers looks pretty good.

For the record, entering Sunday night York’s starters had a 3.82 ERA in their last 30 starts to go along with a 12-6 record. The bullpen had a solid 3.73 first-half ERA — before Sunday’s late meltdown — and York leads the league in strikeouts (528).

STORY TO WATCH: Can York make the playoffs?

Call me King of the Obvious, but more than we think might be riding on the next 64 games. The Revs absolutely have to contend for the Freedom Division crown after the All-Star break. There are no 35-game “road trips” and cramped trailers to blame this time around. And with the team the Revs have assembled, you have to start wondering if a huge shake-up is in the cards if this team falls short of serious contention.

One way or the other, it will be interesting to watch.

*Ashby photo by John Pavoncello; Aspito/Esquivel photo by Steve Russ.

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2 Responses

  1. I feel like Jim Mora at the podium right now after reading your article.”Playoffs?!” “Did you say playoffs?!” I hope your optimisim proves me wrong Jeff, but this team is a miscast bunch of characters. Plus, the new trend of losing one run games is not something a playoff team would do. This year is a wash, I compare this team to the Devil Rays of the late 90’s when they brought in Jose Canseco, Vinny Castilla and Fred Mcgriff. Experienced ballplayers, bad organization. I truly beleive that York will only win when the yoke of being owned by Maryland Baseball Partners is removed. Local ownership would prevent these trades to Camden and Lancaster and Southern Maryland for, “future considerations.” I think that York will always be the red-headed stepchild in this arrangement, and as it’s been often quoted on this board, “it sucks”.

  2. Josh,

    Just because I outlined “Can York make the playoffs?” as the second-half story to watch does not mean I think the Revs will make it.

    Wanted to clear that up.

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