Who Will Be American Association MVP? Candidate 4: Jimmy Kerrigan, Kane County Cougars
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 continues looking at the likely American Association MVP candidates looking at the No. 4 candidate in Kane County Cougars outfielder Jimmy Kerrigan.
The Invaluable Piece
What makes the discussion about the 2022 American Association MVP an interesting one, is that a case can be made for several different players based upon completely different criteria. For those who like a player who puts up good numbers and his team is likely to finish in first or second in the standings, there are two or three good candidates, including Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks infielder Drew Ward. If one is looking for a candidate who has helped to elevate his team over the last month so that they are in a prime position to make a playoff run, then Milwaukee Milkmen outfielder Bryan Torres may be your candidate.
However, for many voters, it is the invaluable piece to a team that will garner a lot of support. A club where if this player was not on that team, they may be solid, but nothing spectacular. They may even be mediocre. One candidate truly stands out in that category, primarily because his team would be lost without him.
Kane County Cougars Cannot Live without Jimmy Kerrigan
When one makes that the criteria, then Kane County Cougars outfielder Jimmy Kerrigan is clearly the Most Valuable Player, not only to his team, but arguably in the league itself. Kerrigan enters Wednesday’s action third in the American Association in homeruns (26), fifth in runs scored (67), and second in RBI (81).
Those numbers in and of themselves would make him an MVP candidate, but there is much more to like about Kerrigan. The outfielder is hitting .304, has 53 total extra-base hits, most in the league, and he is fourth in doubles (25), first in total bases (212) and fourth in slugging percentage (.614). No matter how you stack it up, Kerrigan has the numbers to support him as the MVP.
What makes his numbers so much more impressive is the fact that no one else on his team comes even close to matching his numbers. For example, a case could be made for Winnipeg Goldeyes outfielder Max Murphy to be MVP, one that will be made tomorrow. However, just as easily a case could be made for Goldeyes first baseman David Washington, whose numbers are equally impressive. Kansas City has three players with at least 19 homers and four with 62 RBI or more. One could even argue that Chase Simpson is just as vital to the Cleburne Railroaders as Zach Nehrir.
However, no one on the Cougars has numbers near what Kerrigan has produced. In fact, the next closest person in terms of RBI has 55 (Cornelius Randolph), 26 behind Kerrigan. Only one player has as many as half the home run total of Kerrigan, that being Dylan Busby with 13. He is also the only player on the team who has appeared in all 88 games for his club.
Without Kerrigan in this lineup, this Cougars team would be likely be eight or nine games under .500, instead of just five games out of first place. Look at his statistics each month and you will see how vital he is to this club. In May, Kane County started out 11-5. Kerrigan hit .338, driving in 14 runs and scoring 19 runs in 16 games. Several players on this club got off to a hot start, as they had seven players hitting .319 or better who had appeared in at least 12 games.
The Cougars posted a .317 batting average in May, but dropped to .275 in June, hitting just 25 home runs in 27 games. The club went 11-16 that month, and Kerrigan was the only huge bat in this lineup, one of three players hitting above .300 (.311), and his 11 home runs and 25 RBI easily led the club. In fact, the next highest number of homeruns on the team was four by Dylan Busby and nobody else had more than 14 RBI. Kerrigan was keeping this team afloat.
In July, Kane County went 12-14, hitting just .248 as a club. Kerrigan was one of only two players hitting above .300 (.301). Once again, his 11 home runs easily led the club, with Cornelius Randolph second with six. His 28 RBI were 13 more than what Randolph produced, and he was second on the team with 20 runs scored.
In August, Kane County is 11-8 through the first 19 games. Kerrigan has had a solid but not spectacular start to his month, hitting .276 with 12 runs scored, two home runs, and 13 RBI. The numbers are down for one simple reason – no one is giving him anything good to hit. The scouting report is out on the Cougars. Opposing teams will let anyone else in this lineup beat them, because they know the one guy who can hurt them the most is Kerrigan, so he is seeing literally nothing good to hit.
Some may say that those numbers prove that his importance to the club is being overstated. That is far from the truth. It proves that he elevates the rest of his team, by giving them better opportunities to deliver big hits. That is why this club is 11-8.
At the All-Star break, Kerrigan looked like he was clearly the MVP. He may not be the prohibitive favorite at this point, but he is still likely the MVP. Truthfully, Kane County would be fourth in this division and fighting with the Gary SouthShore RailCats for the final playoff spot if Jimmy Kerrigan was not on the club.
By Robert Pannier