Walker, Ward Making MVP Award a Two-Man Race
American Association Daily provides insights, features, and recaps of the action from around the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions. In today’s edition of American Association Daily, Robert Pannier looks at the two men who are likely to be chosen as the American Association MVP this season – Milwaukee Milkmen OF Adam Walker II and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks IF Drew Ward.
Likely Down to Adam Walker II and Drew Ward
With just nine days left in the American Association season and the league already sending out ballots for who will receive post-season awards, it is time to start looking at the top candidates for these awards. The Most Valuable Player one should be an interesting selection as we have seen some great individual performances this season.
One of the more interesting dynamics of the MVP race is that the “clear” winner has changed from week to week. With the season shortened to just 60 games, the impact one week has had on the race has been dramatic.
Just two weeks ago, Chicago Dogs outfielder Victor Roache looked like he would be the second straight Dogs’ player to win the award, joining Keon Barnum. Canaries infielder Damek Tomscha got off to a great start and has been a key to success of Sioux Falls all season. Goldeyes infielder Kyle Martin may have been the most consistent player all year.
All three are deserving of the consideration, but the race looks like it is down to two names – Milwaukee Milkmen outfielder Adam Walker II and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks infielder Drew Ward. Both have credentials that are impossible to ignore.
Adam Walker II, Milwaukee Milkmen
Walker does not have the big batting average, hitting .282 as of this writing. However, that does not matter.
Walker is the hottest hitter in the American Association, raising his average nearly 60 points in the last two weeks. He has 10 homers in the last 13 games, including six last week. The run has helped him to earn Player of the Week honors in each of the last two weeks as he has been absolutely pulverizing the ball.
More importantly, his team is winning as Walker has helped to catapult the team into first place in the American Association. He leads the league in homers (20), RBI (45), total bases (120), extra-base hits (27), and slugging percentage (.638). Voters are often enamored with big power numbers, giving Walker a clear edge. Plus, the fact that the Milkmen are at the top of the standings is going to help make his case.
Drew Ward, Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks
A week ago, Drew Ward was living in obscurity. He was arguably the best player in the American Association, but his team was in last place and that is not a good place to be if you are going to be a serious MVP candidate.
The RedHawks are in fifth now, which doesn’t seem to help his case much, but they are also the hottest team in the league, winning seven straight. That has helped to move the team just 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot, and they have games against three of the teams ahead of them, so they are poised to make a serious playoff run.
Ward is third in hitting (.337) and leads his team in homers with 13, third in the American Association. He is tied for third in RBI with 39 and is fourth in total bases (109). Plus, he has the longest hitting streak in the league this season at 21 games.
Those are all impressive credentials but the advantage he holds is that Fargo-Moorhead would not even be in this race had it not been for Ward. He was literally carrying this team on his back for four weeks, keeping them just close enough that a hot streak could propel them into the race. That is exactly what happened.
So, Who Wins?
That is a good question and the answer lies in how close Fargo-Moorhead gets to reaching the playoffs. Even if the RedHawks fall just short, Ward will likely be the winner.
There is another factor. Walker’s Milkmen welcome Ward’s RedHawks for three games starting Tuesday and, if either player is able to upstage the other, he will be the MVP.
In an already exciting final nine days, this will help to make this series even more interesting to watch.
By Robert Pannier