Lentini Falls Just Short in Player of the Year Race

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After announcing its Post-Season All-Star team and Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team last week, the Atlantic League continued announcing its year-end awards on Tuesday. Four of the most notable awards were unveiled, including:

Player of the Year: Jeremy Barfield (Sugar Land)
Pitcher of the Year: Jonathan Albaladejo (Bridgeport)
Manager of the Year: Stan Cliburn (New Britain)
Rawlings Gold Glove Defensive Player of the Year: Eric Farris (Somerset)

The majority of these were a bit easier to predict, and all four are extremely deserving of these honors. Albaladejo led the league in wins, strikeouts (a league single season record), innings pitched and games started. Cliburn led a first year expansion franchise to a 71-69 record and nearly a postseason berth. Farris played six different positions and committed just six errors in 126 games in the field. However, the Player of the Year competition was not so clear-cut.

While Barfield put together an outstanding year for the Skeeters, leading them to their first-ever Atlantic League championship, it’s impossible to ignore Fehlandt Lentini’s candidacy for the honor. At 39 years old, Lentini put together one of the best seasons of his career and became one of the most important pieces of the Ducks’ lineup. Perhaps most impressively, he appeared in all 140 games during the regular season, as well as each of Long Island’s eight postseason games. The same could not be said for Barfield, who missed five regular season games despite being 11 years Lentini’s junior. Lentini was also recently selected as both a Post-Season All-Star and member of the Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team.

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Following is where both players stood among the Atlantic League leaders offensively, along with their final stats, including their league rank in parentheses (no ranking given if outside of Top 15):

Statistical Category

Jeremy Barfield

Fehlandt Lentini

Batting Average

.306 (T-8th)

.313 (5th)

Home Runs

27 (1st)

9

Runs Batted In

85 (T-3rd)

75 (5th)

Runs Scored

87 (2nd)

108 (1st)
Hits

156 (T-4th)

179 (1st)

Doubles

31 (5th)

42 (1st)

Triples

2

6 (T-3rd)

Stolen Bases

2

51 (2nd)

Total Bases

272 (1st)

260 (2nd)

Extra-Base Hits

60 (1st)

57 (2nd)

On-Base Percentage

.382 (8th)

.364 (T-11th)

Slugging Percentage

.533 (4th)

.455 (10th)

Walks

62 (4th)

38

At Bats

510 (T-5th)

571 (1st)

Games Played

135 (4th)

140 (T-1st)

Upon breaking this down, Lentini held the edge in eight of the 15 categories, giving him a slight advantage in that department. In addition, the third-year Duck also held the league’s top ranking in five categories while Barfield led the league in three. Finally, both players were among the Top Five in 11 of the 15 statistics. The comparison is obviously very close between the two sides.

One avid Ducks fan, Terry Dennelly (@BaseballInvest on Twitter), also made a great point recently on why Lentini is deserving of the award. In the graph below, he notes how much he outperformed the rest of the league in three statistical categories. Lentini’s 108 runs were 21 more than Barfield’s total, which ranked second in the league. Lentini’s 179 hits were 19 more than Bridgeport’s Luis Hernandez, who finished second with 160. Finally, his 42 doubles were six greater than Lancaster’s Caleb Gindl, who was second with 36.

 

When talking about an all-around great player, one must also look at how he performed defensively. Lentini made just two errors in a total of 133 games, good for a .990 fielding percentage. As for Barfield, he played 131 games in the outfield and committed eight errors (.970 fielding percentage). That was actually tied for the most errors by any Atlantic League outfielder in 2016. Barfield did have a big advantage though in assists, posting 14 compared to Lentini’s seven, and he had the edge in putouts with 248 to Lentini’s 199.

While sharing the same position, Barfield and Lentini are two very different types of players. Barfield is the power threat in the middle of the Skeeters lineup, typically batting in the third, fourth or fifth spot of the order. He hits the ball out of the ballpark a lot and drives in a plethora of runs. Lentini also packs a potent swing, but his game is not built on the longball. Instead, he will rack up plenty of singles and doubles and beat you with his speed on the basepaths. It’s impossible though to say which kind of player is better; they are both equally as important in any strong lineup. Combine them though, and you have your prototypical five-tool baseball player. It seems that this year’s voting placed an emphasis on the home runs and RBI totals.

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Congratulations to both Barfield and Lentini on putting together phenomenal seasons in 2016. Both were outstanding from start to finish, and both helped lead their team to Division championships, with Barfield going on to win the league title for the first time. In the end, fans can debate for hours upon hours which player was most deserving of the league’s Player of the Year award for 2016. Barfield took home the honor in a tight race, and deservedly so. However, Lentini’s candidacy and overall performance certainly should not go unnoticed.

In case you missed it, CLICK HERE to see the league’s Post-Season All-Star team and Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team. On Thursday, the league will finish announcing its awards with the Ken Shepard Award for Promotional Excellence, the Joe Klein Executive of the Year, the Ray Cipperly Award for Groundskeeping Excellence, Mascot of the Year, Ballpark of the Year, Promotion of the Year and Outstanding Community Service Award.

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Posted on October 18, 2016, in Feature Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. That is a shame that he did not win. All the stats proved him to be the top candidate for the award. He had an excellent year.

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