Although the ’95 season ended with extreme disappointment in the bottom of the ninth inning of game 5 of the Elite Eight (after dominating the team’s postseason opponent all season long), UBA baseball is clearly thriving up and down the west coast of the United States and Portland fans have much to look forward too, as the Beavers proved this year that they drafted a strong core of young players who will keep the club competitive for years.
While the Beaver bats performed much as expected – leading the league in extra base hits while struggling at times to get on base (hello, Jay Buhner) – the most pleasant surprise this season was the rotation, which not only stayed healthy (logging over a thousand innings among the starting 5), but was effective from top to bottom. Moreover, all five guys are poised to return next season. At the plate, Thome, Williams and Giles, Portland’s 1-3 round draft picks, had great seasons batting in the 1, 3, and 4 spots in the lineup.
Team MVP: Switch-hitting lead-off man Bernie Williams, in his fifth professional season, took a major step forward playing CF with the Beavers, earning the league’s Great Glove in CF, hitting a very good 313/394/884 triple slash, and accumulating 125 runs scored. As the only guy on the team with even moderate speed, his steady hand and ability to hit with authority from both sides of the plate is a critical spark for the Portland lineup, earning him the club’s top award.
Pitcher of the Year: Frank Castillo quickly displaced veteran pitcher David Cone as Portland’s #1 starting pitcher this season, putting up the 4th best pitching WAR in the league by leading the club in K/BB ratio (3.2) and revealing a previously unknown ability to smother the long ball (only 9 HRs in over 200 IP).
Rookie of the Year: Easily a contender for Team MVP, having placed 3rd in MVP voting this season and having won the league’s inaugural Rookie of the Year Award, Brian Giles has quickly emerged as the club’s biggest star, and is extremely popular with the fans. He lost some votes this season however due to a weakness against same-handed pitchers and mediocre fielding stats in LF. Against RHPs he put up an OPS of 1.069.