Ford is Best in the ALPB

image003(Photo courtesy of George A. Faella, Newsday)

The Atlantic League saw a great deal of talented players and performances during the 2014 season. Each of the eight teams had at least one player, if not more, that showcased the impressive quality of the league’s rosters. In the end though, one man stood out above all. That was Lew Ford, who on Wednesday was named the 2014 Player of the Year by the Atlantic League. By earning the honor, he joins Ducks all-time great Ray Navarrete (2009) as the only two players in team history to be so honored.

Ford’s season was one that will be remembered by Ducks fans for years to come, even if it did not end with a championship like the previous two had. In his first year as the team’s Hitting Coach, he led by example, hitting .347 and helping the Ducks offense compile the highest batting average in the Atlantic League at .279. Here are some of the highlights from Ford’s MVP season:

Broke the Atlantic League record for hits in a single season with 189.
The previous record was 179, set by Victor Rodriguez of the Somerset Patriots in 2004. The previous Ducks record was 164, set by Ray Navarrete in 2009. Ford didn’t just break the record. He shattered it by 10 for the league mark and 25 for the franchise mark, and ended the year with 56 multi-hit games.

-Became the first player in Atlantic League history to play in all 140 games during a single season.
In 17 seasons since the league was formed in 1998, no one player had done this. Yes, there were sometimes seasons that lasted just 126 games. Yes, there were sometimes rainouts and games that were ultimately cancelled and never played. However, to play in all 140 games is a testament to his ability to stay healthy and produce consistently at the plate. He never needed a day off and never asked for one. Not to mention, he did this all in his 37/38 years of age season.

-Was chosen to play in the Atlantic League All-Star Game for the first time in his career.
Ford has put together great seasons before with the Ducks. 2009 and 2011 were both superb for the former big leaguer, but he failed to be selected for the game. His performances in 2012 and 2013 were also quite impressive, but he was signed by the Orioles after a month in 2012 and joined the Ducks in late-August of 2013. However, he deservedly earned the recognition of being chosen to play in the All-Star Game this past season and started in center field, going 1-for-4 with a triple and a run scored in his home state of Texas.

-Finished the season without committing an error in the field.
Defensive statistics are often overlooked when it comes to choosing awards such as Player of the Year. However, they are extremely important when determining what separates one player from another. Ford played 97 of his 140 games in the field during the 2014 season, and in each one, he avoiding making a single error. It’s hard to quantify range in the outfield, but he consistently used his great speed and marvelous ability to track fly balls to prove how good of a defender he was. Only he and Jermaine Mitchell played more than half of their team’s games in the outfield and avoiding making a single error.

­-Named Player of the Month in May and a First Team Postseason All-Star
Ford was honored by the league several times in 2014, and these simply added to his case for Player of the Year. No one dominated a month like Ford did in May. He led the league in several categories, including Batting Average (.402), hits (47), total bases (75) and on-base percentage (.470). Ford’s consistency during the season was another aspect of his game that helped him stand out among the outfielders in the Atlantic League. By providing offense and defense from start to finish, there was no way he could be overlooked as a First Team Postseason All-Star.

In the opinion of this blogger, the Player of the Year race came down to two guys: Ford and Cole Garner of Lancaster. York’s Justin Greene also had a phenomenal year and ultimately led the league in batting average at .358. However, the rest of his numbers were lacking compared to Ford and Garner, partially because he was not signed until May 23. Here is a statistical comparison of the two and where they stood in the Atlantic League this year (in parentheses):

Statistic

Lew Ford

Cole Garner

Batting Average .347 (2nd) .313 (3rd)
Hits 189 (1st) 166 (4th)
Home Runs 15 (T-12th) 26 (1st)
RBI 95 (2nd) 92 (3rd)
Runs Scored 100 (2nd) 84 (T-5th)
Walks 53 (T-9th) 28 (T-55th)
Doubles 40 (1st) 38 (2nd)
Total Bases 278 (2nd) 292 (1st)
On-Base Percentage .415 (2nd) .359 (9th)
Slugging Percentage .511 (3rd) .551 (1st)
Games Played 140 (1st) 132 (T-10th)
Fielding Percentage 1.000 .984
Errors 0 4

While both ranked among the league leaders in nearly every offensive category, there is no question based on this that Ford had the edge in the majority of them. Garner is most definitely deserving of the award, and his Barnstormers did ultimately make the playoffs (and eventually win the championship). However, when breaking down the statistics that both players put up this year, Ford simply was a cut above Garner.

“Quack of the Bat” would like to congratulate Lew on taking home this outstanding honor. In addition, we would like to congratulate Chris Schwinden of Lancaster, who was named the league’s Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday. We also tip our caps to the others who have been announced as award winners this week:

Manager of the Year – Mark Mason (York)
September Player of the Month – Blake Gailen (Lancaster)
September Pitcher of the Month – Jorge Martinez (York)
First Team and Second Team Postseason All-Stars – CLICK HERE to view the teams.

Later this week, the league will be announcing the winners of Executive of the Year, Ballpark of the Year and the inaugural Ken Shepard Award for Promotional Excellence. Keep an eye on AtlanticLeague.com for those announcements.

Stay tuned to “Quack of the Bat” for more stories in the coming days and weeks. Some upcoming features will be quotes from various Ducks players who took home Atlantic League honors this year and updates from members of the Ducks who are currently playing baseball in various winter leagues.

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Posted on October 30, 2014, in Ducks News and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. He was the model of the perfect ball player all year – every game. The Pride of Long Island!

    In listening to other teams’ broadcasters this year you could hear how feared he was at the plate, and respected he was as a player, to the other teams. Always referencing when he came out on deck… Mentioning how important is was to get out the bottom-of-the-line-up guys to prevent him from getting up again towards the end of the game when the game was on the line, etc….

    Here is a great link the Atlantic League has on Lew plotting all of his hits this season and to which field they were hit to. He is such a pure hitter, his hits are evenly dispersed to all fields. How can you be expected to defend against this????
    http://atlanticpro.bbstats.pointstreak.com/player_spray_chart.html?playerid=127677&seasonid=28163

    Would love to see him for one more year on Long Island if it aligns with his personal goals of building his resume as a hitting coach.

  2. Wonderful news! Congratulations Lew Ford!
    I’ll be seeing you come Spring!

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