Weekend Debate: Top Kraig Binick Achievements

Binick-St-Joes
As we end another week here at “Quack of the Bat,” we would like to point out a little bit of good news today for a member of the Ducks’ back-to-back championship teams. Outfielder Kraig Binick, who has spent three seasons in a Long Island Ducks uniform, has received a job as an Assistant Coach with the St. Joseph’s College baseball team in Patchogue. Binick will serve under head coach Rick Garrett, who will begin his first season leading the Golden Eagles. The Hicksville native most recently was playing winter baseball in Mexico with Mayos de Navojoa but elected to return to Long Island and retire from baseball after 14 games.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play as long as I have and accomplished more than I thought,” Binick told “Quack of the Bat” on Friday. “I fulfilled my expectations of winning a title on Long Island as well as developing into a Major League-caliber player. I’m at an age where I’d like to start a family with my fiancée and use the qualities I’ve developed to succeed in the real world.”

Binick joins a St. Joseph’s team looking to rebound after a tough 2013 season. The Golden Eagles posted a 16-22 record last year and lost to the Maritime Privateers in the first round of the Skyline Conference Baseball Tournament. Their season begins on Friday, February 28 at 2:00 p.m. when they host the Bombers of Ithaca College, who set a school record with 41 wins and finished third in NCAA Division III Baseball last year. St. Joseph’s regular season schedule runs through Saturday, April 26, so be sure to go check out a game and say hello to Kraig while there.

“I feel that coaching for an institution like St. Joseph’s that’s well balanced academically, athletically and spiritually really makes it a perfect fit for me,” he said. “It will allow me to maximize my coaching abilities and help these gentlemen succeed on the field and in the real world, and that’s what I look forward to.”

The speedy outfielder has been a part of several great moments as a Duck. He joined the team in 2011 for his fifth season of professional baseball after reaching the Double-A level with the Baltimore Orioles. Following that point, he helped lead the Ducks to three consecutive Liberty Division championships, two Atlantic League titles, and he made a pair of appearances in the Atlantic League All-Star Game. For this week’s edition of the Weekend Debate, let’s take a look back on some of Kraig’s greatest Ducks achievements and discuss which might be his greatest.

Atlantic League Batting Champion

When Binick came to the Ducks in 2011, the team’s starting outfield had already been set with Matt Esquivel, Lew Ford and Kennard Jones. Despite not having a starting job, he had no problem beginning spring training as a fourth outfielder. That quickly changed when Esquivel suffered a shoulder injury in an early game at Bridgeport. Suddenly, Binick was thrust into a featured role.

“I felt prepared that I could contribute at any time,” he said previously in an article for the Ducks yearbook. “I was hungry for whenever they gave me that opportunity. Esquivel was one of my best friends on the team, so it was sad to see him hurt. It was great though to play in front of my friends and family and everyone who supported me.”

The NYIT alum went on to hit .343 and claim the Atlantic League’s batting title, earning the first ever batting crown of his career. He also led the league that season in stolen bases with 42 and an on-base percentage of .429. He went 1-for-3 on Opening Night, and his average never dipped below that point for the entire 126-game season. That’s an impressive feat for any player, let alone one in his first season with a team and a league.

Postseason Beast with a Bat

Alex Rodriguez has been one of the greatest performers offensively during the regular season throughout his career. With the exception of the 2009 playoffs though, he has been vilified for his consistent struggles during the postseason. Players who perform well during the season are often loved, but legacies are made when they come through in the biggest of clutch situations. With the Ducks, Binick was about as good as you could ask for come playoff time.

In the 2011 playoffs, he made an immediate impact. Pop quiz: Among Ducks regulars during that postseason, who had the highest batting average? The answer, of course, would be Binick. He played all eight games during the playoffs and posted a whopping .360 average, going 9-for-25 at the plate. Not to mention, he scored four runs and drove in four more, including the lone run in Long Island’s Game One win in the Atlantic League Championship Series against York. He also showed his game-changing speed on the basepaths, swiping four bases in those eight games.

“As a kid, I always dreamed of playing in front of a big crowd with the lights on in front of my family delivering the game winning hit,” he said. “Whenever I stepped up to the plate wearing that Long Island Ducks jersey in the playoffs, with my friends and family right behind me, it gave me so much adrenaline that I couldn’t feel the bat in my hands. I think that’s what attributed to my playoff success. To win the championship twice was something I feel honored in saying I did for my home which made it a lot easier to hang my cleats up.”

The insane numbers continued in 2012 and 2013 in helping lead the Ducks to their back-to-back championships. While his regular season numbers fell slightly, his playoff success never wavered. The 2012 postseason saw Binick bat a whopping .405 (15-for-37) in 10 games, earning at least one hit in every Championship Series game and multiple hits in four of the five games. He had a double, a triple, four RBI, five runs and two stolen bases on top of that as well and likely would have won Championship Series MVP honors if not for Dan Lyons’ two game-winning hits. Last season, he hit .269 (7-for-26) in eight games, drawing four walks while adding one RBI and three runs scored. Combine all three playoffs together, and Binick was a .352 hitter in the postseason as a Duck. You can’t ask for more of a clutch performance.

Pair of All-Star Appearances

Every player dreams of being a champion no matter what league they are playing in. Binick was fortunate enough to be a part of two Ducks teams that won championship rings and came within two wins of earning three in his three seasons on Long Island. Despite the championship success, one of the 28-year-old’s biggest achievements was being selected to play in the Atlantic League All-Star Game not once, but twice. By doing so, he joins a list of just 11 other Ducks to have earned multiple All-Star selections while with Long Island. Here’s the list:

Francisco Morales (2000, 02)
Doug Jennings (2000, 04)
Kevin Baez (2002-04)
Patrick Lennon (2002, 04)
Justin Davies (2003, 2005)
Carlos Hernandez (2005-06)
Ray Navarrete (2007-10, 12)
Jamie Pogue (2003, 08)
Randy Leek (2008, 10)
Joe Valentine (2008-09)
John Rodriguez (2010-11)

Binick was selected to participate in the 2011 game at then-Sovereign Bank Stadium in York, Pennsylvania and then again in 2012 at Campbell’s Field in Camden, New Jersey. While he went 0-for-3 in his first midsummer classic, he did start and play the entire game in center field, joining seven other Ducks who were selected to play in the game. The following season, he went 1-for-2 at the plate during the All-Star Game. Serving as a reserve for former Duck Kennard Jones in center, Binick collected a RBI double in the bottom of the ninth inning off Barnstormers closer Tim Hamulack to highlight his appearance that season. While the Liberty Division lost both games in which he played, the memory of playing among the league’s best will always be a bright spot for him.

“It was an honor to be around that type of talent,” said Binick. “I know the hard work had paid off, and they set it up so nice that it was like a mini vacation for me and my fiancée.”

So, which of these three achievements do you feel is the most noteworthy of Binick’s career with the Ducks? Perhaps you think there might be another that we have left out. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below and by voting in the Fowl Poll at the bottom of the blog. We would like to wish Kraig the best of luck with St. Joseph’s College and look forward to hearing all about his experience with the Golden Eagles. Many great players have been a part of Long Island’s back-to-back championships, and Binick will undoubtedly be remembered forever by Ducks fans for his achievements and passion for playing on his hometown team.

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Posted on January 18, 2014, in Weekend Debate and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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