All Aboard Award Week: Rebound Player of the Year
First, it was Zack Granite taking home the first ever Award Week honor from All Aboard as the season MVP. Stephen Gonsalves followed right behind with the Ace of the Year award, recognizing the lefty as the best starting pitcher of the season for Chattanooga, while Trevor Hildenberger was selected as the relief pitcher equivalent. Finally, someone goes home with the Rebound Player of the Year award today, honoring the player with the biggest half-to-half turnaround performance. Quick Note: The selection of the All Aboard awards are made by the Lookouts media department and reflect only the opinions and thoughts of said staff members, not those of the Chattanooga Lookouts players, coaching staff, the Minnesota Twins, Southern League or Major/Minor League Baseball. Now that the above business is taken care off, let’s get in to it.
Rebound Player of the Year: C Stuart Turner
Stuart Turner entered the year praised widely and consistently for his work behind the plate. Baseball America entered the year dubbing him the best defensive catcher in the Twins organization and his entire professional career backed it up coming into the 2016 season and his play behind the plate throughout ’16 was more of the same. Turner finished the year with a .994 fielding percentage in 83 games (80 starts) as a catcher. He led the Southern League in caught stealing percentage among qualified catchers with a career high .396 (19-for-48). And above all else, he handled a rotation chalk-full of young and talented pitching prospects with extreme success, ending the year with a 48-32 record in games started in the gear (he was the only catcher to finish with a record in GS behind the plate over .500 for the Lookouts in 2016).
All this Turner did consistently throughout the 2016 grind. What distinguished him this year and earned him the Rebound Player of the Year was the strides he made at the plate from half to half.
Turner began the year with a torrid pace at the plate, hitting .321 through nine games, but fell back to career averages and even wound up under them after a difficult May and June. In the fifth and sixth months of the calendar year, Turner finished with .206 and .194 batting averages respectively and ended the top half of Southern League play batting just .197.
I’m not sure what he did during the all-star break, but whatever it was, it worked.
Turner jump started his season with a 13-game hitting streak right out of the gates in the second half, hitting .364 in the process (16-for-44) with five doubles, two homers, six runs scored and 12 driven in through those first 13. Stu continued putting up consistent offensive numbers then surged again when the Twins sent fellow catcher Mitch Garver up to Triple-A.
Turner responded to his teammate’s departure with hits in eight of the next nine Lookouts games with a trio of three-hit performances during that span.
The two surges combined with a few big nights here and there, including a monster four-hit and a homer night in Jacksonville, made 2016 a tale of two halves for Turner. In the bottom half of the season Turner finished with a batting average 77 points higher than his first half performance with six more runs, 19 more hits and over twice as many doubles and RBI, leading to career highs on the season in the latter two stats.
The massive turn around at the plate coupled with his consistently fantastic play behind it not only earned Turner the Rebound Player of the Year Award, but makes him a fascinating catching prospect to keep your eyes on in the years to come.
Thus concludes All Aboard’s Award Week and this specific writer’s time with the Chattanooga Lookouts and the official blog of the team. I hope those of you that stopped in for Lookouts coverage at any point during the year enjoyed your reading experience half as much as I enjoyed writing it. For now, I find myself, as George Washington put it (Thanks Hamilton. Seriously though, how great is Hamilton?) consigned “to the mansions of rest” until such a time that baseball begins again and I can revel in the enjoyment of joining those of you out there in full blown, entirely biased support of the Lookouts. Thanks for your support all season and Go Lookouts! –Jeremy Day