15th Anniversary Team: Final Vote
Opening day is upon us, Ducks fans! At long last, April 25 is finally here and the Ducks are ready to begin their quest to become the first team in Atlantic League history to win three straight league championships. While six other ALPB teams got started last night, Long Island opens up tonight in the most fitting of settings: TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J. It was at this very same ballpark some six-plus months ago that the Ducks hoisted the Atlantic League Championship trophy for the second consecutive year. Tonight, John Brownell, last year’s championship series MVP, toes the rubber for Long Island against Somerset Patriot righty Erik Arnesen. Coverage of tonight’s game begins at 6:50 p.m. on 103.9-FM, LI News Radio, with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Live streaming audio will also be available at liducks.com.
With it being Opening Day, voting for the Ducks 15th Anniversary Team concludes with the “Final Vote.” Similar to the final vote for the MLB All-Star Game, this week we are taking the second place finishers in each previous position, and pinning them against each other for one final chance to make the “Flock 15” team. Fans can vote for one player, regardless of position, to represent the final member of the 15th Anniversary Team. Here are the nominees:
House might have been the best hitter and one of the best all-around players Long Island has seen. While he only spent one year with the Ducks in 2011, he certainly made it count. House proved to be an iron man and a defensive stalwart, playing 113 games and not committing a single error. In addition, he threw out 20% of baserunners trying to steal and helped lead the league’s best pitching staff which posted a 4.17 ERA. Offensively though was where House truly shined. He batted .305 with 19 home runs, 81 RBI, 73 runs, 128 hits and 22 doubles. House also rarely swung and missed. His 37 strikeouts were astronomically low for any batter. Not only did he lead the Ducks to the playoffs, but he brought the team all the way to the Atlantic League Championship Series for the first time since 2004. Following the season, House retired and is about to begin his first season as a professional baseball manager, serving as the skipper for the Single-A Hillsboro Hops in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
Sing, who had an outstanding year with the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2009, was able to put together another impressive season in 2012 with the Ducks and helped Long Island end an eight-year title drought. The durable Illinois native played 119 games, and while his .284 average was slightly lower than normal, he crushed 26 home runs, drove in 78 runs, scored 78 times and added 31 doubles. He would’ve led the team in two-baggers if not for Ray Navarrete’s record-setting 50 that season. Then, he put together one of the best postseasons in Ducks history, batting .333 (13-for-39) with three home runs (all in the Liberty Division Championship Series) and eight RBI (including a game-tying single in the ninth inning of Game Two in the Atlantic League Championship Series). Sing was outstanding at the plate and provided some of the most clutch hits in franchise history. He now lives at home in Mississippi with his wife and son and provides youth baseball lessons.
Harrison donned a Ducks uniform for the franchise’s first three seasons (2000-02). He played 271 games in his career on Long Island, combining for a .286 batting average. While he wasn’t as much of a power threat, he drove in 102 runs and scored 156 during his tenure with the Flock. The California native also showed good speed on the basepaths, stealing 35 bases in 2000 and 17 the following year while combining for nine triples in his Ducks career. He never made more than 11 errors in a season at second base and provided some versatility as well with his ability to play well at shortstop when needed. Harrison played four more seasons of pro ball after his time on Long Island, reaching Triple-A with the Angels in 2003 and Double-A with the Rockies in 2004. He ended his career by spending two seasons with Long Beach in the Golden Baseball League.
When Alfonzo was signed prior to the 2007 season, Ducks fans were immediately excited. “Fonzie” had spent eight years with the New York Mets, earning a Silver Slugger Award, an All-Star appearance and a National League championship in the process. After spending the previous year with the Blue Jays and Angels, he came to the Ducks looking to finish out his career in one of the most respected leagues in baseball. In two seasons on Long Island, Alfonzo batted .289 with 13 home runs, 83 RBI, 90 runs and 36 doubles in 164 games. He played solid defense at shortstop as well but also showed some versatility by spending time at second and third base too. In terms of success, Alfonzo helped the Ducks to a pair of playoff appearances, including an outstanding 72-54 record in 2007. The Venezuela native resurfaced in the Atlantic League with the Newark Bears in 2010 before deciding to retire.
Prior to joining Long Island in 2001, Carlos Baerga had already been a 10-year Major League veteran, three-time All Star (1992-93, ‘95), and two-time Silver Slugger (1993-94). After spending 2000 out of baseball, Baerga started his road back to ‘The Show’ with Long Island in 2001. Although his time with the Ducks was short, Baerga was able to use the organization (and the Atlantic League) to help reignite his career. In 53 games that season, Baerga posted a .315 batting average, nine home runs, 44 RBI and three triples. These numbers earned Baerga a selection to play in the All-Star Game held in Newark, New Jersey. The Puerto Rico native also earned himself an opportunity to play in the Korean Baseball Organization where he would further impress Major League scouts. The following season, he became the first player in franchise history to make it back to the Major Leagues after playing on Long Island when he took the field for the Boston Red Sox. Baerga would go on to play 350 games with the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Nationals over four seasons before retiring from the game in 2005.
Unlike all of the other outfield nominees, Brodin had never played in affiliated baseball before coming to Long Island. It was not until he parlayed his impressive 2013 season with the Ducks into a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, making him the fifth Duck to be signed by an MLB team that season. Acquired by Long Island in July of 2012, Brodin made his presence known, batting .369 with seven RBI in the 2012 postseason, earning a hit in all five games during the Atlantic League Championship Series. The Washington native returned for the 2013 season and hit .307 over 106 games with 11 home runs, 48 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. That earned the College of Charlestown alum an All-Star game selection. Brodin hit .300 over 155 games in his two years with the Ducks.
Arguably the most well-known name among designated hitter nominees, Everett had two monster years with Long Island. Playing in 219 games over the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Everett led all DH nominees in batting (.320) and home runs (54) while ranking second in RBI (197). The 14-year Major League veteran finished third in the league in home runs (25) and RBI (97) during his first season with the Ducks. Everett then improved on those numbers in 2008, batting .327 with 100 RBI and 29 home runs, a Ducks single-season record. The Florida native and former 10th overall pick in the 1990 draft retired from professional baseball in 2010 with 1,304 hits, 202 home runs and 792 RBI combined in the Major and Minor Leagues along with two MLB All-Star selections.
A name that resonated well among Ducks fans, Pulsipher certainly made an impact in his time with the Flock. The former ‘Generation K’ member of the New York Mets spent parts of four seasons with the Ducks (2004-07). His first season was where the southpaw truly made made his mark. In 2004, Pulsipher started 17 games (18 appearances) and posted a 9-5 record with a 3.67 ERA. His efforts earned him an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection as well as a midseason contract with the Seattle Mariners organization. Like Davis though, Pulsipher finished the year in championship-fashion with the Ducks, leading Long Island down the stretch and in the playoffs. Overall, the six-year Major League veteran was 17-10 as a Duck with a 4.17 ERA, and the team reached the playoffs each and every one of his four years.
Loree spent two seasons on Long Island (2011-12), but his first year with the Flock was without a doubt the best the franchise has ever seen. That year, the New Jersey native won a team-record 14 games while losing only five, posted a microscopic 1.98 ERA and struck out a league-leading 131 batters, which was also a Ducks record at the time. He also set a Ducks record for most strikeouts in a game with 14 on September 15 against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. That magical year was more than enough to earn Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year honors and the starting pitcher spot at the Atlantic League All-Star Game in York. Loree excelled in the 2011 postseason as well, leading the Ducks staff with a 2-0 record in three starts and allowing just three runs over 19 innings (1.10 ERA) with 17 strikeouts and two walks. The righty began the 2012 championship season with Long Island and made 18 starts before he was signed by the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. In 42 regular season appearances (37 starts) with the Flock, Loree tallied a 19-12 record with a 3.69 ERA, and 220 strikeouts in 227.0 innings. Those wins, strikeouts and innings pitched totals led all right-handed starter nominees.
Lansford represented the only reliever nominee that is currently on the Ducks roster. Brother of teammate Josh Lansford, Jared now enters his third season with the Flock. While his regular season numbers are impressive, it’s his postseason statistics that signify Lansford as a premier reliever in Ducks history. Over two championship runs in the postseason, the California native is 3-0 and has allowed just one run over 12 and one-third innings of work (0.73 ERA). In addition, Lansford has 13 strikeouts compared to just nine hits and one walk in 11 postseason appearances. During the regular season, Lansford is a combined 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA, nine saves and 88 strikeouts in 94 games (104 and two-thirds innings pitched). That includes a 2.98 ERA over 54 and one-third innings of work in 2012 and an All-Star Game selection in 2013.
Rosales was the only closer nominee that is currently on the Ducks active roster and has been a part of back-to-back championship teams on Long Island. He came to the Ducks in a late-season trade during the 2012 season and immediately filled a closer role the team needed. After tossing three scoreless innings in the regular season, he pitched six more games in the postseason, earning saves in all three victories over Southern Maryland in the Liberty Division Championship Series. The righty went on to earn the win in Game Five of the Atlantic League Championship Series to clinch the Ducks first title since 2004. The Los Angeles native returned again in 2013 and put together an All-Star season, going 2-2 with a 2.34 ERA, 18 saves and 45 strikeouts in 38 and one-third innings. He was even better in the playoffs, earning four saves total, three of which came in the ALCS against Somerset. The last of those saves came in Game Five against the Patriots to seal another championship for the Ducks.
There are your final vote nominees, Ducks fans. We understand that this is quite possibly the toughest decision yet. It is very important, however, as this will be the final player voted onto the 15th Anniversary Team. The official “Flock 15” team will be made available to fans in the Ducks Official 2014 Commemorative Yearbook at the home opener on Friday, May 2 at Bethpage Ballpark. Until then, Ducks fans; let’s play ball!
Posted on April 25, 2014, in Weekend Debate and tagged 15th Anniversary Team, Adonis Harrison, Atlantic League, Bill Pulsipher, Brandon Sing, Carlos Baerga, Edgardo Alfonzo, Flock 15, J.R. House, Jared Lansford, Joash brodin, Leo Rosales, Long Island Ducks, Mike Loree. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.