2010 Camden Redlegs in Review

10/19/2010
 

The Camden Redlegs started the 2010 year with a very young team hoping to surprise some people in the MVABL. After winning a league championship in 2009 with the Dayton Rangers, Jacob Robinson wanted to try his hand at managing his own team. Joined by other former Rangers Brad Clark, Brandon Howard, and Jared Bradley, the Camden Redlegs were formed. The team set out to fill the roster with former high school teammates, friends, draft picks, and waiver wire pickups. With a solid veteran core and a group of talented rookies, the Redlegs felt they were ready to compete right away in their first year in the league.

The Redlegs kicked off 2010 with a matchup against the Slammers at their home field of Preble Shawnee. The Slammers sent up rookie pitcher Sean Casey to face the Redlegs' Brad Clark. With Clark being the veteran in this matchup, early advantage should go to the Redlegs one would think. They even drew first blood taking advantage of the rookieís early bout with wildness in the first inning. Clark was dominant in the complete game effort striking out 10 and allowing only one earned run. Thatís where the perceived advantage vanished however as Casey ended up mowing down the Redlegs to the tune of 17 strikeouts and a complete game 4-1 victory. After one game the Redlegs hitters looked so overmatched that it seemed like it might be panic time for Robinson and company. However, having been in the league for several years, Robinson assured his team that Casey was one of if not the best pitcher they would see all year. That prediction turned out to be correct as Casey went on to win the MVABL Cy Young award.

The Redlegs first victory came the very next week against the other 2010 expansion team, the Miami Valley Cardinals. The bats woke up and the pitching was just good enough to hold off the Cardinals for a 16-13 victory.

Considering the Redlegs were formed by a group of players that split from the defending champion Dayton Rangers, the next game was circled on the calendar as soon as the schedule came out. The Camden Redlegs traveled to Athletes in Action sports complex to take on the Rangers. The Redlegs showed they meant business when rookie Taylor Guntle launched a ball over the scoreboard in left field for the first homerun in team history to take an early lead. The lead would grow to 5-0 before the Rangers decided they werenít going down without a fight. They battled back and took a 6-5 lead and headed to the ninth inning hoping to put it away. A few of the former Rangers had different ideas. With one out and the tying run on third, Jared Bradley singled in the tying run and after another single to load the bases, Robinson drove in the go ahead and eventual winning run to make it 7-6.

The Redlegs came down to earth a bit after the exciting start, posting a 5-9 record in their next 14. During this run, the team struggled with consistency. It seemed like every loss was decided by one disastrous inning where the team lost its focus. While not totally unexpected from a young team, it was very frustrating.

Despite the mediocre start, a few individuals were putting together some solid seasons. Jacob Robinson and Brad Clark, two league veterans, were near the top on the team in most offensive categories and made the All-Star team. Robinson finished the year hitting .404 with 2 HR and 24 RBI and Clark hit .378 with a HR and also drove in 24 runs. Several rookies emerged as impact players as well. Taylor Guntle, another All-Star, was a force at the plate and on the mound hitting .360 with 2 HR and 21 RBI and a 7-0 record pitching. John Long, an early season addition, was an RBI machine throughout the year driving in 26 which was good for second on the team passed late in the year by Brandon Howard who had 28. The Redlegs struck gold with both of their draft picks Matt Mattice and Eric Williams. Mattice was a spark plug in the Redlegs offense in the 2nd spot in the lineup for the majority of the year with a .313 average and 8 SBs and Williams with his electric fastball won 3 big games on the hill and struck out 34 in 35 innings pitched.

Sitting at 7-10, the Redlegs needed to go on a run to prove to themselves and the rest of the league that they were going to be a tough out. They did just that by reeling off 5 straight and 7 of their next 8 highlighted by another big back and forth win against the Rangers at Shawnee, a walk off win against the perennial powerhouse Beavercreek Sox at Rotary, and a little revenge against a certain Cy Young winner that embarrassed them on opening day. Behind the pitching of Eric Williams and timely hitting off of Casey, the Redlegs defeated the Slammers at Howell field 5-2.

The Redlegs drew the 4 seed in the playoffs and faced off against the 5 seed Shockers in the first round. Brian Kuhbander started on the hill and kept the heavy hitting Shockers off balance while the offense pounded out 14 runs to win game 1. They ran out of pitchers at that point and got hammered 15-6 in game 2. Williams held them down for a few innings in game 3, but he was eventually done in by shaky defense and the Shockers put up 15 more runs to bring the Redlegsí season to an end with a 15-11 win. Matt Mattice was the teamís post season MVP. The Shockers couldnít seem to get him out as he had 9 hits in 13 ABs and scored 7 runs.

At seasonís end, the Redlegs passed out a few team awards. After spending most of the year as a designated hitter or extra hitter in his only year with the Rangers, the Gold Glove went to Brandon Howard who played a solid SS and 1B and turned out to be the best defensive player the Redlegs fielded. While there were several good candidates for Rookie of the Year, the award went to John Long with his stellar numbers in run production at the plate hitting .353 and driving in 26 runs. With his 7 victories vs. no defeats, Taylor Guntle took home the team Cy Young. He pitched a team high 64 2/3 innings with 4.87 ERA and 48 strikeouts. Redlegs Coach Jacob Robinson turned in the best statistical season of his career hitting .404 with 2 HR and 24 RBI. He also slugged .651, swiped 9 bases, and manned center field for the Redlegs. This earned him the team MVP award for 2010.

Despite the disappointing end, the Redlegs no doubt had a successful first season. With a 16-12 record, they finished with one of the best expansion team records in MVABL history, earning Robinson Coach of the Year honors. With a solid foundation from this year and hopefully some good additions from free agency and the draft, the Redlegs see no reason why they canít build on the success of the first season and make a run at the MVABL championship in 2011.