After winning back-to-back International League West division titles, the Indianapolis Indians followed the same script as last year in post-season play--they were swept. A 2-1 victory by the Durham Bulls completed a three-game series sweep and sent the Tribe packing for the 2013 off-season.
Though Indianapolis struggled much of the second-half of the season, the Indians were never really the same team following the IL All-Star break. Player promotions, injuries, and just poor play doomed the Indians down the stretch.
Despite a premature ending, fans saw plenty to like this year at Victory Field. Here are some of this writer's most memorable moments:
After a typical slow start to begin the year, the Indians soon hit their stride. Manager Dean Treanor's club combined solid pitching/timely hitting as part of an overall winning strategy. Returnees such as Matt Hague, Chase d'Arnaud, Alex Presley, and Tony Sanchez helped set both an example and the pace required to stay atop the IL West.
The Indians were recipients of top pitching prospects Gerrit Cole (promoted in August to the parent Pittsburgh Pirates) and Jameson Taillon, considered the top minor league pitching prospect in the Pirates organization, though neither could be considered the Tribe's Pitcher of the Year.
In retrospect, we hand out the following awards (given for fun with no monetary value) based on this writer's observations.
Most Valuable Player...Matt Hague. The "hit collector" was the most consistent hitter from start to finish. In his third season in Indianapolis, Hague had a brief cup of coffee with the Pirates, but was sent back to do his damage to IL hurlers. Hague finished batting .285 with 8 homers and 69 RBI's.
Pitcher-of-the-Year...Kris Johnson. Johnson also gets high marks for his consistency. He threw 135 innings, winning 10 games in 14 decisions with a 2.39 ERA.
Top Newcomer...2B Robert Andino was with the Tribe for the last quarter of the season, but he gave the Indians a lift with some key base hits down the stretch. In terms of overall talent, pitchers Cole and Taillon appear primed for long-term big-league careers.
Smoke Signals: Manager Dean Treanor deserves special consideration for directing the Tribe to consecutive titles. He overcame mass upheaval to the roster both seasons, yet demonstrated the patience and flexibility to adapt to any given situation...Time to sign off the Indians beat for the last time. It's been a pleasure covering the Tribe the last three seasons. The front office and media staff have always been helpful and professional in accomodating requests. Victory Field remains one of the best minor league baseball experiences, and it's nice to see the Indians have success on the field and at the gate.