Who Will Be American Association MVP? Candidate 1: Bryan Torres, Milwaukee Milkmen
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, Robert Pannier begins looking at the likely American Association MVP candidates starting with Milwaukee Milkmen outfielder Bryan Torres.
American Association Season Down to Two Weeks
Amazingly there is just two weeks left in the 2022 American Association season. It is astounding to think that three months ago this season got underway, and now we are down to about 15 games for most clubs.
This has truly been an exciting season, and there have been a number of great individual performances. Today begins a series of five articles looking at the top MVP candidates in the American Association this season. After the huge power numbers put up last season by Josh Altmann, Kyle Martin, and Adam Brett Walker, homerun hitters would seem to have a decided advantage. However, three of the five top candidates are likely to be guys at or near the top of the order.
In addition, the presumptive MVP at the All-Star break, Kansas City Monarchs OF Jan Hernandez, suffered an injury that kept him out of the lineup for a couple of weeks and he has seen himself fall out of this race. That opens the field, and here is the first of the five likely candidates to win the MVP.
Bryan Torres Sets the Table for Milwaukee Milkmen
No better place to begin then with the guy who is setting the table for this Milwaukee Milkmen lineup. Although his batting average has dropped to .390, Bryan Torres has become one of the most dangerous players in the American Association.
Entering Sunday’s play, the outfielder is hitting .390 with 60 runs scored, 30 extra-base hits, and 55 RBI. As recently as six games ago, he was above. .400 (.404), but a 6-26 span over the last six games has dropped his batting average the .390. Amazingly, that is a slump for Torres, who put together one of the most impressive months a player has ever produced in this league.
Torres entered July hitting .366, but had three 3+ games within the first five contests of the month and had hits in 22 of the 24 games, hitting .400. That raised his batting average to .381 on August 1, and he has continued to bring the wood, hitting .424 in the first 15 games of August with 12 runs scored and 11 RBI.
In the big scheme of things, other than his batting average, Torres does not have numbers that rank with some of the other MVP candidates. Despite batting leadoff for most of the season, he does not even rank among the top five in runs scored, scoring 60 times in 79 games. His 18 stolen bases do not rank in the top five, but his .447 on-base percentage is third overall.
What Torres does is get things going for this Milkmen team, setting the table for Keon Barnum, Will Kengor, and Miguel Gomez. His influence on the club also shows in their performance since the All-Star break, as this club is 22-13, moving them from nearly 10 games out of first place in the East Division to just 2.5 games behind the Chicago Dogs entering Sunday’s action. The club has played 11 series since the All-Star break, winning nine of those series and only a five-game losing streak (August 8-13) has kept this team from being even closer to first place.
It is not a coincidence that as Torres caught fire, the team went with him. The numbers may not be dominant. However, he is doing the most important thing that an MVP candidate should do – take his team to a higher level so that they win games.
What does make his numbers stand out is the fact that several players on this team are having substandard seasons or have been out for a prolonged period of time. Correlle Prime is only hitting .260, and has missed the last week following an injury. Logan Trowbridge was off to a tough start before catching fire over the last three weeks. Mason Davis is now back on the disabled list. Barnum spent time on the DL. Without Torres, this club is probably five games under .500. With him, they could very well finish with the top record in the division.
By Robert Pannier