His third season with the Sheboygan A’s was one of magic.
Ross Krist of Sheboygan Falls who was Mr. Consistency offensively and Mr. Versatility defensively was named by his Sheboygan A’s teammates as their R. Erlien Jewelers Most Valuable Player in the most challenging and never-to-be-forgotten 2020 season.
Krist hit .421 to become the first .400 hitter since Colin Willis hit .403 in 2014 and posted the highest average since Shawn Wozniak hit .422 in 2008.
Krist hit safely in 30 of the 37 games in which he appeared, including 13 in a row and 20 of the last 21 games of the season. Helping him to his .400 season were 15 multiple hit games.
In addition to batting average, Krist also led the team in plate appearances, at bats, runs scored, hits, stolen bases, doubles, and triples.
Despite his tremendous season at the plate, it was his contribution defensively that sealed the deal on his teammates’ ballots. Krist trotted out to whatever position he was assigned that evening on skipper Tim Moyer’s lineup card. When the season was over, Krist had played every position except pitcher and centerfield and despite all the different gloves he had to use, he finished with .959 fielding percentage.
“Ross is definitely an impact player and he helped us day in and day out,” Moyer said. “Like the guys in the dugout say every day, he is a hitting machine. His defensive versatility made it much easier for me to spread the playing time with the large roster we had. Ross just did a great job for us this year.”
In addition the MVP ring from R. Erlien and the plaque, Krist also took the leading hitter award.
Voting for most valuable pitcher ended in a dead heat between Eric Schmitz and Brad Rindfleisch. Schmitz went 6-0 with a 1.47 earned run average. He struck out 53 in 43 innings. Brad Rindfleisch was 5-0 with a 1.43 era. He fanned 81 in 50 innings.
“They were easily the best 1-2 punch in both leagues,” Moyer said. “When they had the ball, the entire team relaxed because they know that no matter what we did offensively, we would be in the game at the end. Beyond the impressive performances on the field, they were just as important teaching the younger members of the staff.”
Centerfielder TD Walker won the most valuable defensive player award. A tough, gritty all-out player, Walker made one diving catch after another. “He single-handedly won at least five games for us with his incredible defensive plays. He deserves this award hands down,” Moyer said.
In addition to most valuable player, pitcher, and defensive player, A’s players also selected the rookie of the year and again there was a tie. Catcher Colin Butkiewicz and infielder Jacob Neese emerged at the top of the list of 10 players who received votes. Butkievich hit .400 and went errorless with 76 chances. A’s pitchers absolutely loved throwing to him.
“He calls a great game and has a fantastic throwing arm. I hope it works for him to play next year,” Moyer said.
Neese cracked the starting lineup in his first year, appearing in 33 games at both his natural third base position as well as the second base and shortstop positions. His .236 average was deceiving because he produced 29 runs.
“He was a first-year player and played nearly every day. It’s a big transition and he did a great job, Moyer said.
Moyer named Davis Wilson his manager’s award winner. Wilson, who came out as an infielder and turned into of the A’s better pitchers.
“I know he was disappointed that he didn’t see more time in the infield, but never once did he complain. He was all about the A’s winning,” Moyer said. Wilson was 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA.
General Manager Denny Moyer selected Moses for his Sine Qua Non Award after he hit .327, belted nine home runs and shared the RBI lead with Jimmy Juergensen, despite being plagued with an ankle injury for most of the year.
“We haven’t had a real home run threat since the days of Randy Wilke,” Moyer said, “but Josh could drive the ball to right field as well. If he sticks around, he will threaten the record book.”
Award winners will be recognized in a video to be released at a later date along with messages from the President and Executive Director.
The Sheboygan A's are members of the Wisconsin State League and Northeastern Wisconsin Baseball League. The A's have helped develop more than 41 players that have reached professional baseball, including 2002 World Series Champion Jarrod Washburn (Anaheim Angels). All Sheboygan A's home games are played at Wildwood Baseball Park in Sheboygan. Connect with the A's on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.