Nowak, Castro earn national honors from Baseball America
Baseball America has revealed their 2011 Independent Leagues All-Star Team, and Chris Nowak and Ramon Castro are two of the three Atlantic League players selected. Here is the team:
C – Kelley Gulledge, Fort Worth Cats (American Association)
1B – Chris Colabello, Worcester Tornadoes (Can-Am Association) Independent Player of the Year
2B – Ramon Castro, York Revolution (Atlantic League)
3B – Juan Richardson, Wichita Wingnuts (American Association)
SS – Andrew Davis, Lake Erie Crushers (Frontier League)
OF – Stephen Holdren, River City Rascals (Frontier League) / Lincoln Saltdogs (American Association)
OF – Todd Linden, Edmonton Capitals (North American League)
OF – Chris Valencia, Brockton Rox (Can-Am Association)
DH – Chris Nowak, York Revolution (Atlantic League)
SP – Eric Blackwell, San Angelo Colts (North American League)
SP – Mike Loree, Long Island Ducks (Atlantic League)
SP – Josh Lowey, River City Rascals (Frontier League)
SP – Ben Moore, Sioux Falls Pheasants (American Association)
RP – Ryan Quigley, Joliet Slammers (Frontier League)
This is the first time multiple Revolution players have been named to the Baseball America All-Indepenent Team. The first Rev to achieve the honors was Scott Grimes last season, after his league-record 138 runs scored were the most in all of professional baseball in 2010, major or minor league.
My rant: How is Nowak the DH and not the first baseman? I guess it really doesn’t matter, Nowak is on the team as he deserves to be, but slotting him at the arbitrary spot of DH tells me Baseball America thinks Colabello is the better player, in addition to giving him the higher honor of Independent Player of the Year, for all leagues. Colabello was the Can-Am Player of the Year as well, but c’mon. It’s not just my opinion, or the opinion of others around the industry that the Atlantic League is a higher level of play than the Can-Am. It’s an agreed upon fact, and it’s not even close. I suppose I don’t have an issue with Colabello being the Independent Player of the Year, it’s fine with me if they award that to the player who has the best season within his individual league, regardless of level. Otherwise, the Atlantic League Player of the Year would be the Independent Player of the Year each season by default.
Yes, Nowak did not win player of the year in his league, but just because he was the likely runner-up to Lancaster’s Tommy Everidge does not mean he should automatically be slotted underneath the best player in the Can-Am. Plus, the argument we made for Nowak that seemed to be lost on the Atlantic League, was that Nowak’s pace and the numbers he put up in relation to the fewer number of games he played than Everidge should’ve netted him the POY in the Atlantic League. Don’t get me wrong, Everidge was very deserving of the award after hitting .319/28/94 in 125 games for the Barnstormers. But Nowak hit .330/25/66 and slugged an insane, team record .646 in just 84 games after arriving in York from Triple-A Nashville in the Milwaukee Brewers system in mid-June. I understand Everidge accumulated impressive numbers over the course of the entire season, but why should Nowak be punished for starting the season in Triple-A? He shouldn’t have been. Our argument was all about the pace of which Nowak put up numbers through his 84 games…had he maintained that pace and played in 125 Atlantic League games as Everidge did, he would’ve finished with an eye-popping 37 homers and 98 RBI, a much better showing than Everidge’s season to be sure.
I digress, but I think it proves my point that the naming of this team without Nowak at first base and Everidge not on the team at all wasn’t really thought all the way through. And Colabello’s numbers en route to Can-Am/Indepentent Player of the Year were .348/20/79 in 92 games. Impressive to be sure, but again it was the Can-Am League. (If anyone is reading this from the Can-Am League, it’s really not personal.) At least after being passsed over as Atlantic League POY in favor of Everidge, Nowak achieved some justice by making the All-Independent team over him, as Everidge is not on this team period. But honestly, even that is terrible. Whether you argue that Nowak or Everidge should be Atlantic League POY, how can the POY of the highest-level independent league (again, agreed upon industry fact, not just my opinion) not be on the All-Independent Team? It makes zero sense, and Everidge got hosed.
It’s hard for me to say with certainty Colabello doesn’t deserve either of his honors, since he did have such a great season. But I just can’t get over the inferior level of play in the Can-Am. If Baseball America is going to name an Independent All-Star Team, they might be better served by just naming the top 15-20 players regardless of position, to not have to limit themselves. Chris Colabello might very well play in our league, or for one of the affiliates soon, and have a lot of success. But it’s a real injustice to not have Colabello, Nowak and Everidge ALL properly recognized for their great seasons.