As we’ve reached the end of the 2020 season for the Worcester Bravehearts it’s time to hand out some awards. Named for the moniker this blogger uses on several sports message boards, the “210 Awards” officially began in 2009 when the Worcester Sharks were in town. Starting in the 2015 season the award posting was begun for the Bravehearts.
We’ll first take a look at some of the official awards and accomplishments of the Bravehearts during the regular season, starting with Ben Rice being named the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s MVP. Mariano Ricciardi, who only played a handful of games early in the season before getting injured, was the recipient of the FCBL’s Commissioner’s Award for his commitment to the Bravehearts and the Worcester area over his four summers with the team.
Worcester had two players and two pitchers win weekly awards, with Joe Pesce and Ben Rice winning “Player of Week” and Shawn Babineau and Cole Chudoba both winning “Pitcher of the Week”.
The Bravehearts had several winners of “Pitcher of the Night” during the regular season, with Angelo Baez getting the nod twice while Justin Murray, Babineau, and Chudoba each won once. Chudoba was also a winner in the playoffs for his game one outing.
For the position players winning “Player of the Night”, Danny Torres and Rice both earned the nod twice, while Aidan Wilde, EJ Exposito, Ben McNeill, and Matt Shaw being named once each. Exposito tacked on a nighly mention in the playoffs.
As always, the following “210 Awards” are just one man’s opinion. If you think I got one wrong, feel free to leave a comment below. Also, I generally like to limit the number of categories a player can win to spread the mentions around a bit. Take that into account when deciding if my picks are wrong.
If someone had told me before this shortened season started I’d make a position player that only appeared in 11 regular-season games “Best Freshman” I’d have probably laughed at them, but here we are. Matt Shaw is an easy choice here as the soon to be freshman at the University of Maryland hit eight home runs, scored 14 runs, and went 14-41 (.341) in those 11 games. Shaw would have likely rewritten the record books in a full normal summer season.
In a close battle, it’s NYIT sophomore EJ Exposito coming out on top. Exposito was second on the Bravehearts in hits (33), tied for second in doubles (5) and home runs (6), and in the top five in most other offensive categories. The FCBL doesn’t track game-winning RBI, but Exposito had his share of those too.
After a slow start Rochdale, MA native Jack Steele won his final two regular-season starts for the Bravehearts and didn’t get the decision in what was likely his best outing of the campaign in late July in Brockton. His 39 strikeouts were second on the team.
A horrible first outing badly skewed the numbers for relief pitcher Jakob Barker, but his four saves, 24 strikeouts, and 1.61 ERA the rest of the season were a major reason for Worcester’s success in 2020.
Angelo Baez set the Bravehearts mark for lowest ERA in a season (1.28), led the team in strikeouts (46), and tied for the team lead in wins (3).
Ben Rice led the squad in hits, singles, doubles, home runs, walks, and batting average. He is a pretty easy choice here.
Best Power Hitter
The sample size might be small, but for winner Matt Shaw it’s impressive. Eight home runs, slugged .976, and had an OPS of 1.354 in just 45 plate appearances. It would have been amazing to see his numbers over a whole season, and hopefully, we’ll get that chance in 2021.
Best Single-Game Performance
Cole Chudoba striking out an FCBL record 15 Westfield Starfire batters in six innings on July 24 is perhaps the easiest choice there is to make in this awards posting.
Pitcher of the Year
Angelo Baez, for being named 210Sports “Pitcher of the Week” most often. It was a tie-breaking vote between all eight weekly winners, and Baez gets the nod.
Batter of the Year
Ben Rice, for being named 210Sports “Batter of the Week” most often.
Most Valuable Player
Ben Rice was named the FCBL MVP, so it would silly if I didn’t pick him here. Not that looking silly would have stopped me mind you, but Rice is indeed the Bravehearts MVP no matter how you measure it.