Baseball fans the world over tend to agree: watching a towering fly clear an outfield wall is a highlight of the game. And little compares to following a player chase a number over the course of a season, whether it's a .300 batting average, 50 stolen bases, 100 RBIs or some other stat.
The nominees below are at different places in their careers. Some used a wooden bat in a competitive game for the first time this year, some are Minor League veterans ready to provide their parent club with another option, and others are bright prospects working their way through the ranks. Whatever their situation, they provided fans with thrills this season. Now, fans can pay them back by casting ballots in their favor in the 2010 MiLB Best Hitter voting.
Las Vegas' J.P. Arencibia homered in four straight games in the beginning of June, three straight games about two weeks later and three straight games two games after the second streak ended. He stayed on a tear, hitting 32 longballs in 104 Pacific Coast League games. He went on to homer for Toronto on the first Major League pitch he saw, and he was 4-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored in that game. He wasn't alone among Triple-A Best Hitter nominees in getting a crack at "The Show" as each of his competitors saw at least some Major League time. Gwinnett's Freddie Freeman led the International League with 147 hits, 240 total bases and was near the top of several other categories. Durham's Dan Johnson led the loop with 30 homers and was one short of the IL RBIs title with 95. Johnson put on this power display while hitting .303. John Lindsey tore up the PCL for Albuquerque, leading all of the Minors with a .353 batting average and a .657 slugging percentage. Lindsey's 70 extra-base hits tied him for first in that category with the Salt Lake Bees' Mark Trumbo. Trumbo was far and away the PCL's leader in total bases (307), RBIs (122) and runs scored (103), and his 36 homers were also best on the circuit and tied atop all of Minor League Baseball. Iowa's Brad Snyder knocked 35 doubles and 25 homers, collected 106 RBIs, hit .308 and stole 19 bases in 23 attempts.
The appropriately named Tagg Bozied made forceful contact with his fair share of baseballs for Reading this year, hitting .315 with 29 doubles, 27 homers and 92 RBIs. His batting average was second in the Eastern League, and he was in the top four in homers and RBIs. Nobody on the circuit topped his .402 on-base percentage or .631 slugging percentage. Tennessee's Brandon Guyer struggled with a .190 batting average over 57 Southern League games in 2009 but had no trouble with Double-A ball this season. The Cubs prospect led the league with a .588 slugging percentage. He hit .344, stole 30 bases and clubbed 13 home runs. Mike Moustakas and former-and-likely future teammate Clint Robinson each tormented pitchers almost every time they put on a Northwest Arkansas uniform. Robinson, who hit .335 with 29 homers and 98 RBIs, became the third Triple Crown winner in the history of the Texas League. The irony? Had Moustakas not been promoted, he likely would have finished ahead of Robinson in all three categories. Alas, he had to settle for the Joe Bauman Award, given annually to the Minors' top home run hitter. Moustakas' 36 homers tied Trumbo, but Moustakas (124) took home the trophy by having more RBIs than Trumbo's 122. Dave Sappelt debuted in Double-A on April 30 and was on a 36-game on-base streak when he was promoted out of the Southern League 89 games later. He finished with a circuit-best .361 batting average. New Hampshire's Eric Thames was a redoubtable sight for Eastern League pitchers from Opening Day to season's end. He closed out April and stormed into May by going yard in three straight games, during which he homered four times with eight RBIs and six runs scored. He led the EL with 104 RBIs, and his 27 homers tied him with Bozied for second in the circuit.
To dismiss Brandon Belt and his stratospheric .383 batting average on the grounds that he played in just 77 games with San Jose would be unfair, especially considering two factors: 1) He stayed hot after leaving the Cal League, hitting .337 over his debut stretch in Double-A and homering four times over 14 Triple-A games and 2) Most first-year pros play fewer than 77 games total. Teammates Johermyn Chavez and Rich Poythress put on quite the show for High Desert. Poythress' 130 RBIs led the Minors, and Chavez was among league leaders with a .315 batting average, 32 home runs, 96 RBIs and 168 hits. Visalia's Paul Goldschmidt also did considerable damage in the Cal League, taking the homer title with 35 longballs and also leading the circuit with 80 extra-base hits and 318 total bases. Goldschmidt took home the league's MVP award. Quincy Latimore's power and speed led Bradenton to the playoffs in the Florida State League. The Bucs prospect totaled 31 doubles, 19 homers, 100 RBIs and 11 steals in 12 tries. Tyler Moore, in the meantime, raked for Potomac in the Carolina League. Moore homered in three consecutive games on two separate occasions, had four multi-homer games and finished the season with 31 longballs and 111 RBIs.
In his first full pro season, Asheville's Jared Clark was selected as a South Atlantic League Postseason All-Star and he won two Player of the Week awards. Clark led the league with 24 homers and hit .299 with 20 doubles, 82 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. He also walked 76 times to nail down a second-best .412 on-base percentage. Wisconsin's Khristopher Davis swatted 22 homers and had 26 two-baggers, so it's unsurprising he ended up with a .499 slugging percentage. He stole 17 bases and scored 86 runs. Mariners prospect Nick Franklin had 23 homers, 22 doubles and 25 steals while hitting .281 for Clinton in the Midwest League, making him a well-rounded candidate. J.D. Martinez, who was promoted to Corpus Christi from Lexington, played for keeps during his 88 games in the Sally League. His .433 on-base percentage was the one that topped Clark's, and he also tallied 31 doubles and 15 homers during his brief time on the circuit. Nobody in the Midwest League had more hits than Cedar Rapids' Jean Segura, who had 161 -- 46 of which were for extra bases. Segura stole 50 bases in 60 tries. Mike Trout, who was Segura's teammate with the Kernels until Trout was shipped up to the Cal League, led the league with a .362 batting average and ranked just below Segura with 45 Midwest League steals, despite playing just 81 games there.
Native Angelino and Dodgers prospect Nick Akins pleased the hometown crowd by hitting .316 with a league-leading 15 homers and 46 RBIs over 47 games for Ogden. Teammate Jake Lemmerman won the Pioneer League batting crown with a .363 average and also led the circuit with 24 doubles and was tied for first in runs scored, having crossed the plate 69 times in 66 games. Elizabethton's Oswaldo Arcia, who's playing Winter Ball in Venezuela, hit .375 to win the Appalachian League batting title, and he also knocked 14 homers, seven triples and 21 runs scored. Casper's Corey Dickerson, meanwhile, led the Pioneer League with 44 extra-base hits and 175 total bases. Everett's Kevin Rivers topped the Northwest League with a .466 on-base percentage and was on the leaderboard in several offensive categories, having hit .332 with 11 homers, 13 doubles, 48 RBIs and 48 runs scored. Mets prospect Cory Vaughn was second in the New York-Penn League with 14 homers. He also doubled 14 times, tripled five times and posted a .307 batting average over 72 games for Brooklyn.