There were a number of Mexican League players who had exceptional seasons, per usual, but the BBM Summer Most Valuable Player choice really came down to two men. One, Yucatan's Yoanner Negrin, certainly had a year for the ages in going 18-1 during the regular season for the Leones, becoming the first Liga hurler in 16 years to record that many victories in one campaign (and duly named BBM's Summer Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday). However, there's one more player who we're giving our MVP award for having a career year in the batter's box as one of the linchpins of Puebla's league championship season under managers Matias Carrillo and Cory Snyder.
Veteran Pericos catcher Cesar Tapia led the LMB with a .383 batting average, beating out Laguna outfielder Ruben Sosa's .371 mark and the topping the .350 mark put in by Saltillo first baseman Eliezer Alfonzo by 33 points among players with 85 or more games in 2016. Alfonzo was mysteriously released by Mexico City on July 8 despite hitting .342 for the Diablos Rojos over 69 games...the Saraperos signed him as a free agent six days later.
Tapia also launched 21 homers in 89 contests to finish tied for seventh in the loop during the regular season, poked 30 doubles (tied for fourth), drove in 94 runs (third) and even stole 13 bases in 17 attempts (remember, this is a 33-year-old who had never swiped more than five bags before this summer. In all, Tapia had new single-season personal highs in eleven offensive categories. Besides his first batting title, the Sonoran ranked in the Liga's Top Five for on-base percentage (.431 for fifth) and first in both slugging percentage at .662 and OPS with a 1.093 figure.
The 5'11" 200-pound right-handed batter did cool down in the postseason, going 17-of-62 for a .274 average over 16 playoff games. Tapia did hit .412 in Yucatan's opening sweep of defending champion Quintana Roo and batted .333 with two homers and five RBI's in six games against Tijuana in the Serie del Rey, including a 3-for-4 night with a homer and two ribbies in Game Two.
Cesar Tapia Figueroa was born November 10, 1982 in Empalme, Sonora. He made his pro debut with Puebla at age 21 in 2004, but after hitting just .225 for the Pericos in 2005, Tapia was dealt to the rival Angelopolis Tigres (who shared Estadio Hermanos Serdan with the Parrots for four years before moving to Cancun in 2007). After Tapia hit .301 for the Tigres in 2006, the Pericos brought him back to the flock for 2007. He batted .343 that season and has remained in green and gold since.
In twelve Liga seasons overall, Tapia has hit over .300 ten times (topping .340 in five seasons) for a career .331 batting average. Although he has historically been more of a gap hitter than a longball threat until this year, Tapia now has 92 career home runs to go with his 233 doubles and 1,232 hits. Tapia has also spent eight winters playing sparingly in the pitching-friendly Mexican Pacific League (the last five in Culiacan). He's a career .230 batsman in 109 Mex-Pac games overall.
2016 BBM Summer Awards
MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Willy Romero, Yucatan
BATTER OF THE YEAR - Diory Hernandez, Aguascalientes
PITCHER OF THE YEAR - Yoanner Negrin, Yucatan
PLAYOFF MVP - Mauricio Lara, Puebla
MOSY VALUABLE PLAYER - Cesar Tapia, Puebla