Tuesday, March 1, 2016

2015-16 BBM Winter Awards: Batter of the Year

For all the talk the past year (including here) about the batting feats of slugging first baseman-DH Japhet Amador, who is about to discover the joys of training camp on a Japanese baseball team, it was the "other" Amador who gets the nod for a BBM Winter Award as Batter of the Year in the Mexican Pacific League.  While Japhet got the homers and headlines before departing for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in December with two weeks left in Jalisco's regular season schedule, it was Hermosillo infielder Jose Amador (no relation to the Mulege Giant) who turned in a brilliant campaign across the board throughout the playoffs to earn the Bammy for top batsman.

 A 36-year-old Mexicali product, Amador finished fifth in the MexPac with a .323 batting average, came in third behind Japhet Amador and Yuniesky Betancourt with 11 homers, tied for third with 39 RBI's and led the circuit in both on-base percentage (.436) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.970) while his .535 slugging percentage was second only to Japhet Amador's .558.  Although Jose hit only .229 with two homers and seven RBI's in 13 playoff games as a reinforcement for Navojoa, his quietly dominant (pardon the oxymoron) regular season was enough to win the first-ever Bammy for Batter of the Year.

"Quietly" was how Amador fashioned a reputation as a second baseman who could hit a little during the first decade of his career between 2001 and 2010, a guy who could give you a .275-.300 average with some pop playing for Laguna and Veracruz in the summer Mexican League while wintering with Navojoa of the Mexican Pacific League for a number of years prior to moving to Mexicali in 2009.  Not a bad player, not a star, just a steady everyday infielder.

That changed in 2011 when he spent his first full year in Saltillo after the Saraperos picked him up in a trade with Veracruz late in the previous season.  Amador moved between first, second and third bases that year and hit .355 while bashing 18 homers and scoring 79 runs for Saltillo.  He followed that up in 2012 with a .323 average and 22 homers with the Saraperos before moving on to Aguascalientes for two seasons and spending 2015 in Monclova, hitting .305 with 18 homers for the Acereros.  In all, Amador has hit 97 homers and topped the .300 mark four times in the past five Mexican League summers.

Things haven't gone quite the same in the LMP, where Amador had spent ten years compiling a .275 average prior to this season's offensive explosion.  After playing four seasons in Navojoa, he moved home to Mexicali for a couple seasons prior to the past five winters in Hermosillo.  The 5'10" right-handed batter hit .295 with 11 homers for the Naranjeros in 2014-15, typically decent numbers but no portent of what was to come this season.