Matt Mervis – Picture by Dylan Heuer/Iowa Cubs
No one could possibly have foreseen the ascension of Matt Mervis to RBI machine this year. Based on the fact that Jake Slaughter was left behind in extended spring training, you can’t blame us there either. It’s been a year full of surprises at the plate and that is quite clearly seen in who we predicted would win this year‘s hitter of the year and be leaders in several statistical categories. In addition, our sleeper of the year predictions actually didn/’t fare too bad but paled compared to Mervis.
It is not like we made for bad picks/predictions when it came to who would be the Hitter of the year. We selected logical prospects as Jimmy picked Kevin Alcântara, Greg Zumach took Owen Caissie, Greg Hus went with Chase Strumpf, who had a good year, and I picked James Triantos. Unfortunately, none of those guys are named Matt Mervis or Pete Crow-Armstrong or Jake Slaughter. I don’t think anybody can blame us either as Mervis barely hit .200 in 2021 and PCA only played a week of Low-A ball before an injury put hi, out for the season. Still, it’s fun to see that we did make good choices, just not the ones that turned out to be the hitter of the year.
We made some solid choices when it came to stats and who would lead those categories.
Jimmy Nelligan walks away with another cookie for predicting Alexander Canario would lead the system in home runs. Here’s what Jimmy had to say about why he picked him.
Alexander Canario doesn’t get cheated when he swings a bat. He really showed off his power soon after being acquired in the Kris Bryant Trade. If he can string together some consistent ABs he could hit 25+ home runs this season.
Greg Huss took Jordan Nwogu while Greg Zumach stuck with the Owen Caissie theme and I took Bryce Ball who did not really catch fire when it came to power in this year.
106 RBI is nothing to sneeze at. It was the first time since 2014 that a Cubs prospect broke the hundred RBI barrier. It’s even more of an achievement if you think of the fact that Mervis did it across three different levels. Unfortunately, our crystal ball was clearly fogged up for most of these predictions.
The two Gregs picked well when they selected PCA to win this stat. However, little did we foresee Darius Hill running away with .323. Jimmy picked Kevin Made and I selected James Triantos.
The top 6 in this category in 2022 were Mervis at 157, followed by PCA at 150, and then Adan Sanchez, BJ Murray, Jake Slaughter, and Jordan Nwogu. How well did we do? Well, the two Gregs took Owen Caissie who had a 116 and Jimmy and I took Alcantara who put up a 120.
Jake Slaughter and PCA dominated this category and it was not even close as they were tied at 32 at the time I wrote this post. The next closest two guys were from the DSL. Zumach and Jimmy both picked Delvin Zinn, 2021’s winner. Huss was required to go with DJ Artis, and I took Nwogu who actually did not do too bad as he was one away from 20.
Mervis was at the top with a .986 followed by PCA, Canario, and Yonathan Perlaza. The two Gregs stuck with their Owen Caissie extravaganza who finished at 762, Jimmy took Alcantara who wound up at .795 and I had Triantos who finished at .707.
Mervis is going to win this award as well. But we had Greg Huss taking Cole Roederer, Jimmy had BJ Murray, who actually hit very well as evidenced by a 139 wRC+ above, Zumach took Jacob Wetzel, and I had a tie in Parker Chavers, who was injured most of the year, and Luis Vazquez who hit very well in June and July at Tennessee which was enough to get him to Iowa.
2022 was really the year of the breakout hitter.
So many guys busted out all across the system and it was never dull. Seeing Canario hit bombs, Luis Verdugo smack some doubles, and Ezequiel Pagan just doing whatever it took, the Cubs were blessed with a much improved hitting corps this year. While our picks did well, no one saw Matt Mervis putting together the kind of season that has now become the stuff of MiLB legends.