Today marks the official beginning of award week here at All Aboard, the Official Blog of the Chattanooga Lookouts. For the rest of the work week, All Aboard will be used to celebrate the standout players and performances of the season starting with today’s announcement of the Lookouts Most Valuable Player in 2016. 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.
All Aboard 2016 Most Valuable Player: Zack Granite
Before using a plethora of words to describe just how impressive Zack Granite’s 2016 season was for the Lookouts I will try to do so in as few words as possible.
Here are the major offensive categories in which Granite did NOT set new career highs in this year:
On Base Percentage (fell .003 short of surpassing his previous high).
End of List.
Those three things are the entire list of career high’s not beat for the speedy outfielder who eclipsed his season totals in games played, at bats, hits, batting average, doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored, runs driven in, slugging percentage, total bases, outfield assists and stolen bases, a previous season high he doubled in ’16.
Granite set the tone for Chattanooga from the top of their lineup all season, was arguably their best player at every possible facet of the game of baseball sans pitching and was a near permanent fixture in the All Aboard Three Stars of the Series weekly article recapping the top three players of the last five games. Because covering Granite’s season in one coherent article is a task far too daunting for this humble blogger, let’s break this down into easy to digest (and write) pieces.
At The Plate:
Somehow, Zack Granite began his season with two hits in his first 12 at bats and ended April hitting an underwhelming .205. From that point on, Granite hit .310 and finished the season with the third highest batting average in the Southern League at .295. The speedy outfielder also finished top three in the league in hits (155, 12th in MiLB, 1st in SL), runs (86, 2nd), triples (8, 2nd) and stolen bases (more on that later). He caught fire with the weather, hitting .363 in June and over .300 in July and August and remained remarkably consistent the entire year no matter who he was facing pitching-wise, with a .291 average vs LHP and a .296 vs RHP.
Granite’s season was marked by multiple four-hit games, four straight two-hit nights to start June, a two triple/5RBI game against Birmingham on August 12th, and a 15 game hitting streak between June 13th and July 4th.
One last impressive note on Granite’s plate production: He showed a fantastic contact tool and strong eye at the plate, with just 43 strikeouts compared to 42 walks in 526 at bats.
On the Base Path:
Granite shined bright in Manager Doug Mientkiewicz’s aggressive running style, doubling his previous stolen base season total and finishing first in the Southern League and tied for first in all of minor league baseball with 56 swiped bags. The total not only was Granite’s highest, but the fourth highest total in a single season all-time for a Lookouts player, exceeding Miami Marlins star Dee Gordon who stole 53 in 2010.
In the Field:
Chattanooga finished the year as the best statistical defensive team in the Southern League and Granite may be at the top of the lists of reasons for that. The left hander manned a consistently spectacular center field all season, ending the year with just one error in 305 total chances and 1097.2 innings patrolling the outfield. He led the Southern League in total putouts with 291 and threw out the most runners on the base paths with 13.
Check Back tomorrow for the next in All Aboard’s Award Series with the year’s best pitcher! Any guesses as to who it will be? Let us know who your pick is on twitter (@ChattLookouts).