Following a season of tumult and uncertainty, INF Kevin Smith provided a consistent approach to the Buffalo Bisons lineup to help him earn the Stan Barron Most Valuable Player Award for the 2021 season. The team also announced the remainder of their end of season awards that included RHP Bryan
Following a season of tumult and uncertainty, INF Kevin Smith provided a consistent approach to the Buffalo Bisons lineup to help him earn the Stan Barron Most Valuable Player Award for the 2021 season. The team also announced the remainder of their end of season awards that included RHP Bryan Baker being named the Warren Spahn Most Valuable Pitcher and 1B Tyler White earning the Jimmy Griffin Hometown Hero Award.
The journey from independent baseball prior to the 2021 season to earning the first Big League promotion of his career earned RHP Connor Overton the nod as Judge Michael Dillon Comeback Player of the Year while RHP Jacob Waguespack was selected by his teammates as the Joe DeSa Most Inspirational Player.
For his passion and dedication to the past, present and future of the Buffalo Bisons and baseball in Buffalo, Bisons Season Ticket Holder and founder of The Herd Chronicles, Brian Frank was named the Joe Byron Fan of the Year.0
Stan Barron Most Valuable Player – INF Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith was just one of a host of Triple-A rookies that joined the Bisons for the 2021 season and made the adjustment to the upper level of Minor League Baseball quickly, becoming one of the most consistent hitters in the league. The 4th round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft out of the University of Maryland played 89 games with the Herd in 2021 and hit .284 with a team best 25 doubles, 19 home runs, 66 RBI, .552 slugging pct and 59 runs scored. He also ranks 3rd on the club with 16 stolen bases in only 19 attempts. While currently with the Blue Jays, Smith still ranks 3rd in Triple-A East in slugging pct., 7th in OPS (.916) and RBI and 3rd in extra-base hits (48).
Smith logged a 21-game on-base streak from May 12 to June 8, hitting .314 (22-70) that included six home runs, 16 RBI, and 12 walks. The 25-year-old also carried a 17-game hitting streak from July 10 to 30, batting .418 (28-67). Smith had his contract selected by the Blue Jays on August 18, making his Major League debut the same day against the Washington Nationals. He recorded his first career MLB hit on August 20 vs. the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre.
Warren Spahn Most Valuable Pitcher – RHP Bryan Baker
Bryan Baker followed up his successful 2019 Bisons’ debut season with the best ERA (1.45) and the most saves (10) of any qualified Herd reliever. The right hander has appeared in 36 games for the team this season, converting 10 of his 12 save opportunities. He has also struck out 44 batters in 37.1 innings pitched.
Baker did not allow a run over his first nine Triple-A outings to start the season and followed it up with another nine scoreless appearances from July 4 to August 4. Opponents have hit .136 against the righty, collecting just 18 hits all season long. He has surrendered just six earned runs this season, as well.
Baker had his contract selected by the Blue Jays on September 1st and joined the team in Toronto. Baker made his Major League debut four days later, pitching an inning of scoreless relief against the Oakland Athletics on September 5.
Jimmy Griffin Hometown Hero Award – 1B Tyler White
Veteran Tyler White has recorded many of his best offensive performances in 2021 at home between Trenton Thunder Ballpark and Sahlen Field. White is batting .291 in 99 games overall this season, but at home is hitting .343 with 61 of his 97 total hits coming in front of the home crowd.
Similarly, White hit nine of his 12 homers and drove in 43 of his 60RBI at home this season for the Bisons. He had five homers and 14RBI in the team’s final homestand in Trenton, NJ from July 13 to 25, including 2HR and 9RBI July 22-25 against the Syracuse Mets. Overall, White has drawn a Triple-A East best 73 walks, giving him a team-best .421 on-base percentage (2nd in league).
Joe DeSa Most Inspirational Player – RHP Jacob Waguespack
Jacob Waguespack has appeared over parts of three seasons with the Bisons since being acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018. However, his work on and off the field in 2021 made him the choice of his teammates for the Most Inspirational Player this year.
Waguespack is tied for the team lead in victories with seven, across 21 outings that include 10 starts. The righty took the mound at Sahlen Field for the team’s first game back in Buffalo on August 10th on a moments notice, making a spot start after an injury to the night’s starting pitcher occurred during his pre-game warm-up routine. Overall, Waguespack is 7-2 with a 2.84 ERA and 70 strikeouts to only 60 hits allowed in 65.2 innings of work.
The Prairieville, LA native has also been a leader in the clubhouse this season, helping many teammates make the transition from Trenton, NJ to the Queen City in early August.
Judge Michael Dillon Comeback Player of the Year – RHP Connor Overton
Connor Overton finished the 2019 season pitching for the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Independent Atlantic League, prior to signing with the Blue Jays’ organization. This season, he made 21 appearances that included seven starts for Buffalo before earning his first MLB call-up.
Before 2021, Overton had made just two starts in 76 career outings from 2014-2019 for both the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants organizations. For the Herd in 2021, the righty was 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 58.2 innings of work.
The right hander was added to the Blue Jays’ roster on August 11 and made his Big League debut the next night against the Los Angeles Angels. Overton made four appearances for the Blue Jays before being claimed off of waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates and pitching three times this month for the team.
Joe Byron Fan of the Year – Brian Frank
A baseball historian and member of the Society of American Baseball Research, Brian Frank’s knowledge and passion for the history of baseball and the Buffalo Bisons is unmatched. A lawyer and teacher of history and English, Frank created the website HerdChronicles.com where he shares his extensive research of the Bisons past with baseball fans throughout Western New York and the world. His unparalleled knowledge of the team’s Major League history gave him a unique perspective on the past two seasons of Blue Jays games at Sahlen Field, an understanding he’s shared through his website and the @HerdChronicles handle on twitter.
Frank, who is also a Buffalo Bisons season ticket holder, has recently greatly expanded his coverage of the current Bisons team and can often be seen taking photos himself for use on The Herd Chronicles or following the team on the road, including this year in Trenton, NJ. Frank was also a key contributor to the recently released ‘The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball, 1857-2020,” which shares the rich history of Buffalo Bisons baseball in Buffalo, NY.