20th Anniversary Team Voting – Starting Pitcher (2012-15)
19 seasons of Long Island Ducks baseball have come and gone. Players from all around the world and of all varieties of baseball experience have worn the Ducks uniform since the first pitch on April 28, 2000. In that time, they have played in front of nearly 8 million fans in Central Islip, and millions more around the rest of the country. Those players and coaches have also earned three Atlantic League Championships, seven Division Championships, 13 half-season Division Championships and over 1,300 victories. As the Ducks 20th Anniversary Season, presented by Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, approaches, it is time to determine which members of the Flock have stood above the rest.
The common phrase goes “pitching wins championships,” and that was certainly the case during the next era of our voting. During this four-year stretch, the Ducks claimed back-to-back Atlantic League Championships thanks in large part to some tremendous performances on the mound. One of the nominees for this week’s starting pitcher spot earned Championship Series MVP honors in 2013. Another recorded a pair of quality starts with the Ducks facing elimination in 2012. Our third candidate began as a reliever before converting to a starter and was instrumental in both championship victories. Let’s take a closer look at each of the three nominees:
After coming to Long Island via a late-season trade in 2012 from the Grand Prairie AirHogs, John Brownell fashioned a Ducks career that spanned parts of seven seasons, including six full years. During that time, he compiled a record of 65-51 with a 3.72 ERA, 755 strikeouts, and 1,005.1 innings pitched over 156 games (154 starts). His wins, strikeouts, innings pitched and starts totals are all Ducks franchise records, and he is also the Atlantic League’s all-time strikeouts king. The right-hander ranks second in league history for innings pitched and third for wins. Not to mention, he’s also the Ducks single-season record holder for starts (29, 2014), complete games (7, 2013), innings pitched (202.0, 2014) and strikeouts (147, 2016). If those impressive numbers aren’t enough, Brownell was a key contributor to Long Island’s back-to-back Atlantic League Championships. He posted a 2.84 ERA in a pair of 2012 postseason starts, which included a win in Game Four of the ALCS with the Ducks facing elimination. The following season, Brownell won all three playoff starts and compiled a 2.88 ERA. Two of those starts came in the Championship Series, where he earned MVP honors after pitching into the ninth inning of the decisive Game Five at Somerset. He would go on to lead Long Island to three more Liberty Division titles (2016-18) and earn an ALPB All-Star Game selection in 2017. Brownell has unquestionably cemented his legacy as one of the franchise’s greatest starting pitchers ever.
Another vital piece to Long Island’s Championship puzzles was New York native Bobby Blevins. The right-hander also joined the Ducks in a late-season trade from the Rockland Boulders during the 2012 campaign. Manager Kevin Baez slotted Blevins in to start the decisive Game Five during both postseason series that year and boy did he deliver. He fired six innings of three-run ball in the Liberty Division Championship Series, as the Ducks defeated Southern Maryland 5-4, and then tossed six innings of two-run ball with five strikeouts against Lancaster to lead the Ducks to another 5-4 win and their first championship in eight seasons. Blevins was masterful in his lone postseason start one year later, pitching eight innings of one-run ball at Somerset in Game Four of the Atlantic League Championship Series. While impressive in the postseason, his regular season numbers were nothing to scoff at. Between 2012 and 2015, Blevins compiled a 15-10 record with a 3.23 ERA, four complete games, 212 strikeouts, and 317.2 innings over 50 games (47 starts). He spent one final season with the Ducks in 2016 and started Game One of the Atlantic League Championship Series that year before going on to spend time with both the Sugar Land Skeeters and Somerset Patriots in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Our third and final candidate for this spot on the 20th Anniversary Team enjoyed success as both a starting pitcher and a reliever during his three seasons as a Duck. Jared Lansford served as a late-inning bullpen arm during Long Island’s back-to-back championships runs, making 47 appearances in both 2012 and 2013. He combined to post a 5-3 record with a 3.61 ERA, nine saves, and 88 strikeouts over 104.2 innings of work. The righty’s 2013 success earned him an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection. Lansford was also a perfect 3-0 in 11 postseason appearances, yielding just one run and one walk over 12.1 innings while striking out 13. The California native converted to the starting rotation for the 2014 season and continued his success on the mound. He made 25 starts that year and posted an 8-5 record with a 3.22 ERA, two complete games, and 123 strikeouts over 159.1 innings pitched. Thanks to his performance, Lansford eventually signed in the Chinese Professional Baseball League. He has spent several seasons pitching overseas since.
Three two-time Atlantic League champions are up for selection, but only one will have a spot on the 20th Anniversary Team. Who that will be lies partly in your hands. Cast your vote early and often over the next week for Brownell, Blevins or Lansford by clicking the button below. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!
Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll reveal our group of three nominees for the starting pitcher spot representing the 2016-18 era of Ducks history, the final starter spot on the team.
Posted on March 15, 2019, in 20th Anniversary Team and tagged 20th Anniversary Season, 20th Anniversary Team, Atlantic League, Bethpage Ballpark, Bobby Blevins, Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, Jared Lansford, John Brownell, Long Island Ducks, Starting Pitcher, Voting. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.