10 Nov

the clear choice

This was a no-brainer, really. Tim Anderson was the clear choice for the 2020 Cool Papa Bell Award, given here for the top performance by a Mississippian (native or college alum) in the major leagues. Former East Central Community College star Anderson, who also won the award in 2019, earned a Silver Slugger this season at shortstop in the American League, which, considering all the good players at that position, is quite an honor. In 49 games, Anderson batted .322 with 10 homers, 21 RBIs and a league-leading 45 runs. He helped the Chicago White Sox reach the postseason and went 9-for-14 in the wild card round. Anderson was the AL batting champion in 2019, a year when he also garnered a lot of attention for his demonstrative style, including some much-publicized bat flips. The White Sox have hired a new manager for 2021: Tony LaRussa, who is not just old at 76 but has a reputation as an old-school skipper. Anderson, for his part, said he won’t be constrained. “I won’t change my style, the way I play, for Tony. I will continue to be me,” he told reporters after winning the Silver Slugger award. We’ll see how that works out. … Previous winners of the Cool Papa Bell Award, which honors Negro Leagues legend Bell, the first Mississippi native to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, include Corey Dickerson (twice), Mitch Moreland, Brian Dozier (twice), Desmond Jennings, Lance Lynn, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Chris Coghlan. P.S. Kudos to Biloxi Shuckers alum Devin Williams on winning the National League Rookie of the Year award. He is the first relief pitcher to be named the loop’s top rookie since former Mississippi Braves star Craig Kimbrel in 2011.

12 Nov

reward worthy

As baseball has become awash in new-age statistics, batting average has somehow been devalued. Yet even in this era of WAR, OPS+, hard-hit rate, et al., there remains something special about a batting title. Tim Anderson, the former East Central Community College standout, won one this year in the American League, adding his name to a list that includes, just from this decade, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts and Josh Hamilton. Good company. Myriad Hall of Famers own batting titles: Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Rod Carew and Wade Boggs, to name a few. There is nothing fluky about batting average. Anderson hit .335 in 2019, becoming the first Mississippian (native or college alum) to earn a batting crown since Dave Parker won the second of his two in the National League in 1978. The only others to do it: Buddy Myer (1935) and Harry Walker (1947). Anderson, a shortstop in his fourth MLB season for the Chicago White Sox, also hit 18 home runs, drove in 56 runs, stole 17 bases and scored 81 runs. For the record, he posted a 4.0 WAR. It was the kind of season that deserves to be recognized with a Cool Papa Bell Award, given here for the most outstanding performance by a Mississippian in MLB. Previous winners of the award, which honors Negro Leagues legend Bell, the first Mississippi native to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, include Corey Dickerson (twice), Mitch Moreland, Brian Dozier (twice), Desmond Jennings, Lance Lynn, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Chris Coghlan.

16 Nov

he’s a winner

Corey Dickerson won his first Gold Glove earlier this month. That was sort of icing on the cake for the McComb native, who’s best known for his hitting and certainly did not disappoint in that phase of the game for Pittsburgh in 2018. In his first season with the Pirates, after strangely being cut loose by Tampa Bay, Dickerson batted .300 with a .330 on-base percentage. The Meridian Community College product hit 13 homers, 35 doubles and seven triples, drove in 55 runs, scored 65 and even stole eight bases. He helped keep the Pirates in playoff contention late into the season. Even after they fell off that pace, the lefty-hitting left fielder continued to rake, batting .385 over his last 15 games. It was an outstanding season by any measure and easily worthy of the 2018 Cool Papa Bell Award, given here for the best performance by a Mississippian (native or college alum) in the majors. There were some other noteworthy efforts: Tim Anderson had a 20-homer/20-steal season; Mitch Moreland had a good first half and made the All-Star Game; Hunter Renfroe enjoyed a late-season power surge. Dickerson was just better across the board. … It’s the second time Dickerson has earned the Cool Papa Bell Award, which honors Negro Leagues legend Cool Papa Bell, the first Mississippi native to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Previous honorees include Moreland, Brian Dozier (twice), Desmond Jennings, Lance Lynn, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Chris Coghlan.

13 Sep

down to wire

Hunter Renfroe is surging. Tim Anderson is on the brink of a special accomplishment. Mitch Moreland is a solid contributor on the best team in baseball. Corey Dickerson’s numbers are pretty darn good, and Brian Dozier has 20 homers and more RBIs than any other Mississippian in the big leagues. Picking All Mississippi Baseball’s Cool Papa Bell Award winner for 2018 is going to be tough. Ex-Mississippi State star Renfroe clubbed his 22nd homer for San Diego on Wednesday. He is batting .258, slugging .519 and has 48 runs and 60 RBIs in 102 games (he spent time on the disabled list and in the minors). He credits a new two-strike approach for this late-season bolt. “I’m letting the ball get deep, shortening up a bit, making sure I’m as short and quick to the ball as possible,” he said in an mlb.com article. Anderson, the East Central Community College alum, hit his 19th homer – a game-winner – for the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. With 26 stolen bases, he is a homer shy of becoming the ChiSox’s fifth 20-20 man. “I’m excited to be able to chase that,” he told mlb.com. Anderson is hitting .248 with 62 RBIs and 73 runs in 141 games. Unlike Renfroe and Anderson, former State standout Moreland plays for a playoff-bound team, the 100-win Boston Red Sox. An All-Star in July, he has scuffled of late but is still hitting .250 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs and playing a good first base. Meridian CC product Dickerson also has faded recently but is batting .291 with 11 homers, 49 RBIs, 57 runs and eight steals for Pittsburgh. That’s a productive year. Former Southern Miss star Dozier, winner of the last two Cool Papas, has slumped since moving from Minnesota to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are chasing a division title. Playing on a troublesome knee, he is hitting .219. Can he possibly muster a finishing kick? It’s going to be fun final couple of weeks.

27 Nov

the envelope please …

This was a close call. Drew Pomeranz went 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA last season and was a key player in Boston’s drive to a division title. But Brian Dozier, who also had sparkling numbers, was arguably THE key player in unheralded Minnesota’s drive to a wild card berth. On that basis, the former Southern Miss star is a repeat winner of the Cool Papa Bell Award, given here for the best performance by a Mississippian in the majors. Dozier, who also won the 2016 award, batted a career-high .271 (.359 on-base) with 34 homers, 93 RBIs, 106 runs and 16 steals in his fifth full season with the Twins. He was a regular on the highlight shows for his defense at second base. What’s more, he led off the American League wild card game against New York with a home run, though the Twins couldn’t hold the lead. No disrespect to Pomeranz — or for that matter Zack Cozart, Corey Dickerson, Jarrod Dyson, Lance Lynn and Adam Frazier, each of whom had a very good season – but Dozier was simply a cut above. … The award honors Negro Leagues legend Cool Papa Bell, the first Mississippi native to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Previous honorees include Mitch Moreland, Corey Dickerson, Desmond Jennings, Lance Lynn, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Chris Coghlan.

12 Nov

the winner is …

Brian Dozier. Hands down. The former Southern Miss star is the winner of the 2016 Cool Papa Bell Award, given here to the Mississippian (native or college alum) who had the best season in the big leagues. The 29-year-old Dozier, in his fifth MLB campaign with Minnesota, hit .268 with 42 homers, 99 RBIs, 104 runs and 18 steals in 155 games. He also played a solid second base (eight errors, .989 fielding percentage). Several Mississippians had nice years – see Drew Pomeranz, Kendall Graveman, Tim Anderson, Billy Hamilton, Seth Smith — but none approached Dozier’s numbers or impact. The Twins announced on Oct. 19 the winners of their annual Diamond Awards, and Dozier took three of them, including the Calvin R. Griffith Award as the Most Valuable Twin. He was also the recipient of the Charles O. Johnson Award for Most Improved Twin and the Bob Allison Award given to the Twins player who exemplifies determination, hustle, tenacity, competitive spirit and leadership both on and off the field. … Dozier follows Mitch Moreland, Corey Dickerson, Desmond Jennings, Lance Lynn, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Chris Coghlan as Cool Papa Bell Award winners. The award honors Negro Leagues legend Cool Papa Bell, the first Mississippi native to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

30 May

first things first

For a hitter, this number isn’t good: .222. “You can’t really focus on the numbers,” Mitch Moreland told The Associated Press after Sunday’s game in Arlington, Texas. OK, but there are a few worth mentioning. Ex-Mississippi State star Moreland’s sixth home run of the season, which sailed an estimated 440 feet into the upper deck at Globe Life Park, helped spark Texas to a 6-2 win against Pittsburgh and moved the Rangers into first place in the American League West. Watch out for this team, especially if Moreland is heating up. The lefty-hitting first baseman snapped a 1-for-27 slump with a home run on Saturday. He now has 21 RBIs and 18 runs in 45 games. Moreland is coming off a season in which he hit .278 with 23 homers and 85 RBIs (and earned AMB’s Cool Papa Bell Award). Here’s another number of note: $5.7M, which is the contract Moreland agreed to for 2016; he’s a free agent after this year. … Also bolting into first place on Sunday was Ned Yost’s Kansas City Royals, who now lead the AL Central. The defending world champs, who’ve won 12 of 17, rallied to top the Chicago White Sox 5-4, with McComb’s Jarrod Dyson scoring the go-ahead run in a three-run eighth. Dyson, coming back from a spring training injury, is batting .264 with 12 runs, eight steals, seven RBIs and five outfield assists in 30 games. He does a lot of little things you gotta love.

16 Nov

the envelope, please

This was largely a two-horse race. Brian Dozier bolted to an early lead. Mitch Moreland started slow and was briefly sidetracked by an injury. But Dozier began to fade, as did his team. Moreland kept getting big hits, and his team surged to a division title. In the end, it was Moreland by a nose, winner of the Cool Papa Bell Award, given here to the Mississippian (native or college alum) who has the best season in the big leagues. Moreland, the former Mississippi State star from Amory, hit .278 (.330 on-base percentage) with 23 homers and 85 RBIs for Texas, which went 88-74. Moreland had five homers and 18 RBIs in September and October as the Rangers fended off Houston and Los Angeles in the American League West. Dozier, the Southern Mississippi product from Fulton, was a first-half sensation and made the All-Star Game. For the year, he scored 101 runs, belted 28 homers and drove in 77 runs. But he batted just .210 after the All-Star break and .197 in September/October as Minnesota faded from the AL wild card battle. Moreland joins a group of Cool Papa Bell honorees that includes Corey Dickerson, Desmond Jennings, Lance Lynn, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Chris Coghlan. The award honors Negro Leagues legend Cool Papa Bell, the first Mississippi native to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

20 Jul

on the move

Corey Dickerson has taken another step on the path to returning to the Colorado Rockies’ lineup. The former Brookhaven Academy and Meridian Community College star played left field and went 1-for-3 on Sunday in the first game of his rehab assignment. He is with Class A Modesto in the California League. Dickerson, dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, has only 127 MLB at-bats this season and is hitting .299 with five home runs and 16 RBIs. He last played a game for the Rockies on June 16. Colorado manager Walt Weiss told the Denver Post that Dickerson would get about 25 rehab at-bats and should be back with the Rockies “real soon.” Dickerson had a breakout year in 2014, when he batted .312 with 24 homers, 76 RBIs and 74 runs in 131 games. He was All Mississippi Baseball’s Cool Papa Bell Award winner, given for the best season by a Mississippian in the majors. … Ole Miss product Alex Presley, designated for assignment by Houston on Saturday, may soon land with another MLB club, according to various reports. Presley, a lefty-hitting outfielder who had just 12 ABs with the Astros this season, is a .259 career hitter who can do a lot of little things well.

03 Nov

the envelope please …

It’s not always about numbers in baseball. But sometimes, the numbers are just so good, they have to be celebrated. Corey Dickerson had just such numbers in 2014. In his first full season with the Colorado Rockies, the McComb native and ex-Meridian Community College standout batted .312 with 24 home runs, 76 RBIs and 74 runs in 131 games. He slugged .567. He had 27 doubles, six triples and eight stolen bases. Even though the Rockies had a rough year, Dickerson’s numbers make him an easy choice for the 2014 Cool Papa Bell Award, given here for the best season by a Mississippian (native or college alum) in the major leagues. Dickerson, 25, a left-handed hitting outfielder, was projected (by Rotowire.com) to hit .275 with eight homers and 32 RBIs in a backup role in 2014. He far exceeded those numbers and appears poised now for even bigger and better things. … Dickerson gets the nod for the award this year over Billy Hamilton (.250, 72 runs, 56 steals in 152 games as a rookie for Cincinnati); Brian Dozier (23 homers, 71 RBIs, 112 runs, 21 steals for Minnesota); and Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.74 ERA, 203 2/3 innings for division-winning St. Louis). … Previous winners of the Cool Papa Bell Award, named for the first Mississippi native to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, are Desmond Jennings, Lynn, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Chris Coghlan.