TROY, NY-ValleyCats catcher Tyler Heineman has captured the New York-Penn League batting title, finishing the season with a .358 batting average. His .358 average was 29 points better than Auburn's Shawn Pleffner, who ranked second with an average of .329.
"It's a nice honor to have, said Heineman. "But most of the credit goes to the rest of the guys on the team. They get on base and give me good hitters counts, and really give me a chance to hit with runners on."
Heineman started the season with a bang. He went 2-2 in his first professional game on June 29 against the Connecticut Tigers (at home). He never cooled off.
The former UCLA walk-on batted over .300 in every month of the season. He batted .379 in August, clearly his best month. That month was highlighted by his season-high 14-game hitting streak. From July 29-August 12, Heineman went 23-55 (.418) with 11 runs scored, eight RBI and just three strikeouts. He registered eight multi-hit games during that span.
"It's fun knowing he's going to be on base," said Manager Stubby Clapp. "You could slot him anywhere in the line up. You know he's going to give you a solid at-bat every time."
Heineman played in 55 games for the 'Cats this season and collected 22 multi-hit games. Tri-City's backstop was a dangerous switch hitter, batting over .300 from both sides of the plate.
"He never gives up. He hits some of the ugliest pitches. They're not always pretty, but he gets hits over the shortstop or second baseman's head. He doesn't give in," said Clapp.
Tyler Heineman is the first ValleyCat hitter to win the batting title since J.D. Martinez in 2009 (.326).