The vote for who should be the Westchester/Putnam player of the year was about as tight as I have seen. After John Jay’s Sam Mines jumped out to a big lead in the poll, Fox Lane’s Richard Slenker came charging back to briefly pass Mines. Since then, they’ve traded off the top spot, but as of today, Mines held an ever-so-slight lead. The Indians’ submariner finished with 42.2 percent of the vote (638 votes), while the Foxes’ shortstop was close behind with 41.5 percent of the vote (627 votes). That certainly doesn’t make my decision any easier, but I think we’ve clearly identified the top two candidates.
Now, it’s time to debate who is most deserving to be named player of the year in Rockland. This is a bit of a complicated debate because the guy with the best numbers comes from a team that didn’t even make it out of the first round, but the teams that went the furthest in the playoffs—North Rockland and Tappan Zee—got there without one true standout. With that being said, here are my top four candidates for player of the year in Rockland:
• Danny Demetrops, North Rockland: Pitching was the key for the Red Raiders this season, and the most important player for the best team in Rockland county was the senior left-hander. He led the team with a 1.21 ERA and went 7-1, including a two-hitter against Mamaroneck in the Class AA quarterfinals. Demetrops also played some first base and contributed 13 RBI, but it was his emergence as staff ace that propelled North Rockland to the top seed in Class AA.
• Josh Forman, Clarkstown North: The senior right fielder led the Rams in several offensive categories, including runs (23), extra base-hits (10), homers (three) and RBI (22). He led North to a first round home game against New Rochelle in the Class AA playoffs, where the Rams won in walkoff fashion to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in recent memory. Forman also contributed on the mound in relief, finishing with a 2.40 ERA.
• John Kukura, Clarkstown South: After missing most of his junior season due to injury, the senior third baseman was the most feared hitter in Rockland county in 2013. Kukura broke the Vikings’ single season batting average record by hitting .538 while slugging an impressive .962. He also scored 29 runs, drove in 26 and had 17 extra base-hits – seven of which were home runs. Not only was Kukura the clear comeback player of the year in the county, but he’s also a strong candidate for player of the year.
• Matt Scherf, Tappan Zee: While pitching was considered to be the strength for the Dutchmen throughout the season, it was their senior catcher’s big year at the plate which may have been the most critical part of their success. TZ needed someone to step up as a run producer, and Scherf got the job done by leading the team with 25 RBI and a .623 slugging percentage. There are a handful of candidates from this year’s Dutchmen team – which earned the top seed in Class A and made it to the semifinals – but Scherf was the leader and most important bat for a team that entered the season with offensive concerns.
Vote using the poll on the right-hand side!