I'll admit that at the end of the regular season I thought this year's would be the easiest decision for our All-Area baseball MVP. Righetti senior Matt Sauer clearly had the best resume.
Then the postseason started and something amazing happened.
Two Santa Maria Valley teams advanced to divisional championship games. Sauer powered his Warriors to the Division 3 title game. Meanwhile, Santa Maria also advanced to a CIF championship game, eventually winning the Division 6 title.
Now, when we cast our votes for the All-Area teams and the top awards, we do take postseason performance into account. That obviously made the decision a bit tougher.
Sauer was dominant in the playoffs, especially in the Warriors' 1-0 win at Paraclete in the Division 3 semifinals. In that game, Sauer threw a complete game shutout with 10 strikeouts, allowing just three hits. A couple weeks later Sauer was selected by the New York Yankees in the second round of the MLB draft.
But the Warriors did come up a bit short in the title game, falling to Walnut 13-2.
Meanwhile, in Santa Maria's title run, a number of players stepped up and lifted the Saints to their first CIF baseball title in 60 years. So there were clearly a number of worthy candidates on the Saints, most notably Paul Navarro and Trevor Garcia.
Earlier this week, Navarro was named the Division 6 All-CIF Player of the Year, while Garcia and teammate Tommy Herrera were named to the All-CIF team.
Sauer and teammate Alex Castellanos were both named to the Division 3 All-CIF team.
But I'm curious to see who our readers would vote for MVP.
Clearly Sauer would be the favorite. But isn't there also a case for a guy like Navarro, who helped the Saints to a CIF title and landed a Player of the Year award? What about Garcia, also on Santa Maria, who threw a complete game shutout in the title game against Moreno Valley?
What about valuing regular season success only, ignoring the postseason like they do in most pro sports? Then Santa Ynez's Dustin Gregg has a case. He was named the Los Padres League MVP and the Pirates won the league title. Gregg was the Pirates' top hitter this year but also did a solid job working with Santa Ynez' dominate pitching staff as the Pirates' everyday catcher.
See, there are a number of worthy candidates and so many areas to emphasize your voting. Do you go for team success? Or individual success? Or focus solely on regular season dominance? Or maybe you put more stock in prime-time performances in the postseason.
I mainly focus on team success, with a bit of an emphasis on the postseason. It's hard for me to vote for a player on a team that doesn't make the postseason. I don't know if that's the right way, but that's usually how I do it. At the high school level, a truly dominant player should be able to lift his team to the postseason. That's where a players value is derived from. How much better does a player make his team?
Sauer. He turns a really good Righetti team into a monster. Navarro had a bit of that at Santa Maria, but not quite to the same degree and against the same level of competition. Garcia was nearly as good as Navarro and he was lights out in the championship game. Dustin Gregg hit and caught the Pirates to an LPL title, but they fell short in the postseason.
So who do you vote for and why?
(By the way, our All-Area coverage for baseball will published this weekend, so you can also see who we voted for... Keep an eye out for that!)
Here are the stats: (I don't have all stats available, but stats don't tell the whole picture anyway).
Matt Sauer, Righetti, senior, P-IF: .427 avg., 37 runs, 50 hits, 24 RBIs, 8 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 12-for-15 on stolen-base attempts. Pitching: 0.98 ERA, 9-1 record, 4 CGs, 2 shutouts, 78 1/3 innings, 42 hits allowed, 31 walks, 142 Ks.
Paul Navarro, Santa Maria, senior, P-IF: .369 avg., 21 runs, 41 hits, 8 RBIs, 12 doubles. Pitching stats not available.
Trevor Garcia, Santa Maria, junior, P-IF: .330 avg., 15 runs, 36 hits, 15 RBIs, 13 doubles. Pitching stats not available.
Dustin Gregg, Santa Ynez, junior, C: .371 avg., 24 runs, 36 hits, 23 RBIs, 7 doubles.