Marcus Wilson, Hops Grow in the First Half of the Season
The Hillsboro Hops ended the first half of the 2016 NW League in second place with a 19-19 record. It was the first time since the 2013 season that a Hops team did not win the first or second half crowns. The Eugene Emeralds took the first half crown this year and blew everyone away with a 28-10 record. For comparison, the Spokane Indians won the North Division first half crown with an identical record with the Hops, (19-19).
Still, there was plenty of excitement to watch during the first half with plenty of promise still to come.
On offense, the bats were swinging every which way from Sunday. Recent addition Chad Oberacker led the team in batting average with a small number of plate appearances and a .500 average. Oberacker is going through a rehab assignment from AA and made only sixteen plate appearances. Josh Anderson, a returnee from last year’s championship team, led all batters who had at least 50 plate appearances with a .315 average. Anderson has shown to be the steady veteran keeping the team grounded.
Marcus Wilson, the team’s lead off hitter, led the Hops with 18 runs scored with several close behind. Wilson was a quick baserunner ever alert to gain an advantage as he also led the team with 16 stolen bases and 31 walks.
Justin Chigbogu and Marcus Wilson led with 29 hits a piece. Chigbogu, who is deceptively quick for a strongly built player, was a source of power for the Hops and led with four home runs. Manny Jefferson used his quickness to lead with 7 doubles. Three players had two triples in the first half: Marcus Wilson, Alexis Olmeda and Jason Morozowski.
Two players, Manny Jefferson and Marcus Wilson both hit 15 RBI. Wilson was always in the mix somewhere as he led in runs scored and RBIs, unusual for one person to do both. Jefferson was also a steady clutch at the plate when the Hops needed him.
Newcomers Chad Oberacker and Mark Karaviotis had the highest on base percentages for the team at .579 and .556 respectively. For players of at least 50 plate appearances, Marcus Wilson stepped up with .411 continuing to add to his impressive display of doing whatever is needed.
Slugging percentages were led by Chad Oberacker (.750) and, with 79 ABs, Josh Anderson (.425).
On the mound, Tyler Mark and Jeferson Mejia led with three wins against two losses. Both pitchers returned from last year’s squad and continued to blaze their way through games.
Seven different pitchers had a .000 ERA with minimal games. Of those, Kirby Bellow appeared the most with five games and a 1-0 record. With those who had more than five games, Riley Smith led the way with a 1.26 ERA in 12 games.
For starting pitchers, Bo Takahashi started two games with no decisions but maintained a .000 ERA. Jake Winston proved to be money out of the bullpen with three saves. Tyler Mark led with the most lightning in his throw accumulating 47 strikeouts.
Marcus Wilson was the only Hops to be a league leader. He led all players with 37 game appearances. He also led the league with 31 walks and 16 stolen bases. Jacob Bosiokovic of the Boise Hawks took the league batting crown with a .344 average. Luis Castro, also of the Hawks, won the home run race with five. Seth Spivey of the Spokane Indians had the most RBIs with 30.
by Greg Stoker
Photography by Portland Oregon Photographer Craig MItchelldyer