York Revolution manager Mark Mason had admitted it freely: it’s hard to keep a team that hasn’t played a meaningful game in almost three months motivated. The Revs will play their most meaningful games of the year this week in the Freedom Division Championship Series, but before Tuesday night’s Game 1 at Sugar Land, it will have been since June 30 – the day they clinched the first half championship – that Mason’s bunch will have played a game that carried any postseason implications.
Despite the novelty of playing more than half the schedule with the playoffs guaranteed, the Revs still had individual and team records at stake in the second half of the 2016 season.
Adding a 36-34 second half to a 40-36 first, the Revs finished the season 76-64, notching the third-highest win total and fourth-highest winning percentage in franchise history. York held the best record in the Atlantic League for most of the season before finishing one game behind Somerset, the closest they have ever been to posting the league’s best season-long mark. York finished the season 43-27 at PeoplesBank Park, the best home record in the Atlantic League.
Never Out of It
York posted 44 comeback victories in 2016, breaking the record of 36 set by the 2008 and 2014 teams. Of those comeback wins, 15 occurred when trailing after the first six innings. York owned a winning record for much of the season when the opponent scores first (ending at 32-38, 22-20 at home). The Revs were 43-28 in games decided by 2 runs or fewer, including 26-8 at home (15-4 in one-run home games).
Best of the Best
The Revs handed out their seasonal awards at the end of Sunday’s finale against Long Island. Michael Rockett won team MVP, while Mike DeMark earned Pitcher of the Year, and Ty’Relle Harris took home the Corey Thurman Community Player of the Year.
Voted team MVP in a landslide victory, Michael Rockett established himself as one of the Revs’ most important bats and gloves. He posted the best numbers of his career at the plate, batting .295 with a career-high 50 RBIs. He led the Revs in bunt hits and ranked top five in runs, hits, triples, RBIs, stolen bases, and infield hits. In the field, Rockett made multiple starts at six positions (LF, CF, RF, 2B, 3B, SS); he also served as emergency bullpen catcher and made one appearance as a relief pitcher.
Mike DeMark proved so dominant on the hill that he forced the Revolution to hand out a Pitcher of the Year award for the first time ever. DeMark set club records with 39 saves in a Revs uniform (previous: 33, Rommie Lewis), and with 35 saves on the season (previous: 28, Rommie Lewis, 2014). He finished two back of legendary Somerset stopper Jon Hunton for the league lead in saves, and his 0.79 ERA was the best among Atlantic League closers by over a full run. DeMark was especially dominant from late July through early September, recording 13 saves and striking out 20 in a stretch of 16 scoreless games. He set team highs in consecutive scoreless appearances and in scoreless innings, not allowing a run in 17 full frames.
In addition to transitioning from go-to reliever to trusted starting pitcher on the field, Ty’Relle Harris’s contributions off the field were numerous and impactful. From being a leader in making official team community appearances to simply engaging the fans on an everyday basis, perhaps his biggest impact was with the young fans. Harris could often be found before or after games at PeoplesBank Park conducting lessons with youth ballplayers or providing them with memorable inside access to the dugout and clubhouse. Harris is the first person to win the Community Player Award since it was named for York legend Corey Thurman, who received the namesake honor at his number retirement ceremony in May.
Sai Hey, Again!
Isaias Tejeda made his return to the Revs on August 19 after being released by the Atlanta Braves earlier in the month. Tejeda batted .364 (36-99) with eight doubles, three home runs, and 15 RBIs over 24 games in his second stint with York. After leaving in June on a 17-game hitting streak, he upped it to 28 games before seeing it end on September 3. Tejeda’s streak surpassed Vince Harrison’s 23-gamer in 2011 as the second-longest in club history, behind only Chris Ashby’s league-record 31-game streak in 2008. Tejeda’s 28-gamer was also the league’s longest since at least 2010 (as far back as records are available). A model of consistent greatness, Tejeda notched 32 multi-hit games (21 two-hit, 10 three-hit, one four-hit) in his 65 games with York, finishing with a .356 batting average.
Speed Kills (the Opposition)
Throughout the first half, the Revs profiled as a classic Earl Weaver-style Baltimore Orioles team: built with power but not much speed. All of that changed when the Revs acquired Travis Witherspoon in a trade from Lancaster on June 16 and signed Jared Mitchell on July 2. The two formed a formidably fast duo at the top of the York batting order, quickly ascending the top of the team and league stolen base leaderboards. Witherspoon finished the season third in the Atlantic League with 41 stolen bases; his 34 with the Revs rank him third in single-season franchise history. Mitchell finished with 26 swiped bags, finishing tied for eighth in the league despite playing at least 20 fewer games than everyone else in the top 10; he also tied Eric Patterson (2014) for seventh in single-season Revs history.
Climbing the Leaderboards
Frank Gailey finished fourth in the league with a 3.13 ERA, also good for the fourth-best single-season mark in Revs history. James Simmons finished tied for second in the league in wins (11), fourth in starts (26), third in innings (160.2), and sixth in strikeouts (118). In the York single-season book, Simmons finishes tied for fifth in wins (Rakers ’08, Thurman ’08, Martinez ’14), fourth in strikeouts, sixth in innings, and tied for second (Cody ’12) with 14 quality starts. Ty’Relle Harris’s 116 strikeouts put him seventh in the league and fifth on the York single-season leaderboard.
A pair of familiar faces out of the bullpen also made their climb through the all-time Revolution record books. Ricardo Gomez tops out the year as York’s career ERA leader; his 2.37 ERA is more than 30 points lower than second place. Gomez also ranks eighth in games pitched and seventh in relief appearances (both 116), as well as tied for fifth with 22 saves after posting three in 2016. Julio DePaula is now fifth in games pitched and fourth in relief appearances (both 129) and 10th in ERA (3.46).
After a splendid second half, Andres Perez tightened his grip on several Revs team batting records. He remains the franchise leader in home runs (66), hits (605), extra-base hits (206), total bases (952), doubles (131), RBIs (312), games (518), and at-bats (2042). His 297 runs are one back of Scott Grimes’s franchise record of 298; he is also second in walks (169) and tied for fourth in triples (9). Perez batted .289 with 25 doubles, 14 home runs, and 63 RBIs in 122 games this season. In four full seasons with the Revs, Dre is batting .296.
With these records and more in the books, the York Revolution now turns its attention to the most important number: three. That will be the number of Atlantic League championships for the franchise if the Revs can win six games over the next two weeks.