As I do every year, as soon as the games come to end, it’s my job to start thinking ahead to our postseason awards here at The Journal News. Perhaps my most difficult task this season will be choosing the player of the year in Westchester/Putnam, so that’s where we’ll start. There are probably a dozen guys that I could make a case for, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top four candidates. Ultimately, I’ll be picking entire first and second team all-stars for both Westchester/Putnam and Rockland, so I’ll be posting polls on a few of the top awards in the coming weeks. Also, be sure to check back on Friday for my final rankings of the season.
Here are my top four candidates for The Journal News Westchester/Putnam player of the year:
• Kyle Adams, White Plains: The senior catcher led the Tigers to their most successful season in recent memory, winning a share of the league title for the first time in 34 years and earning the No. 2 seed in the Class AA playoffs with a 16-4 regular season. Adams was the most feared hitter in the White Plains lineup and was given the responsibility of calling pitches and defensive plays. He hit .421 with a .593 on-base percentage and slugged .719. Adams finished the season with 25 runs scored, 18 RBI, 12 extra-base hits, 13 stolen bases and only three strikeouts.
• Sam Mines, John Jay: The senior right-hander led his team to a Class A title and had a similar postseason to last year’s POY, Harrison’s Max Bruckner. He won three postseason games — including the regional final against defending state champ Cornwall — and picked up the save in the Class A section final. With one of the most unique deliveries in the section, the Rutgers-bound submariner converted from closer to starter after ace Will Jahn got hurt and proved to be every bit of an ace himself. Mines finished 7-1 with two saves in 61 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 55 while finishing with a 1.37 ERA and holding opponents to a .212 batting average.
• Joe Scambia, Somers: Statistically, no catcher in Section 1 had a better season than the Tuskers’ Northeastern-bound senior. Scambia hit .532 with a .986 slugging percentage, scoring 27 runs with 24 RBI and 18 extra-base hits, including five homers. He also proved to be one of the better defensive catchers in the section, throwing out 75 percent of would-be base stealers. He was named the Conference 1 player of the year and finished second in the voting for Section 1 player of the year.
• Richard Slenker, Fox Lane: The Yale-bound senior was named the Section 1 player of the year and is considered by many to be the most polished player in the area. On a team filled with offensive standouts, Slenker led the Foxes in batting average (.494), runs scored (40), hits (40), doubles (10) and home runs (7). Defensively, Slenker is a smooth fielding shortstop with off the chart intangibles. You could also make a case for Slenker’s teammate Matt Oniffrey – who had a tremendous year at first base and contributing on the mound – but it would be difficult not to choose the MVP from the section as the primary candidate from the best team in Westchester.
Cast your votes using the poll on the right-hand side!