Most Valuable Player: Tim Yandel
If you are a fan of Big Train, then you probably know the name Tim Yandel (Tulane) by now. In his three summers in Bethesda he may have changed his position, but his dedication, hard work, athleticism, and his lucky pants remained constant. (“Sorry Herndon Braves, he did not use pine tar.”-Sal Colangelo). Tim explained he is superstitious and wears those pants all the time, adding that he even has a different undershirt for when he plays the field and when he pitches. In Yandel’s first summer with Big Train in 2013, he was primarily an outfielder and middle infielder. He hit .246 from the plate, and garnered nine doubles on 23 hits. The next summer, Yandel came back, but this time he was making the transition to pitcher. You could see he was a hard thrower, but hadn’t really put it all together. Yandel had an excellent junior season at Tulane, progressing as a pitcher, and proving that the switch in positions was worthwhile. As a rising senior, Tim Yandel came back to Bethesda for one final season and gave Big Train fans what they were looking for: a dynamic two-way player who has won the award for Big Train’s Most Valuable Player.
According to Manager Sal Colangelo, “Tim is the heart and soul on and off the field for the team and that he can be a clown on the baseball field… which makes him a great clubhouse guy” but this in no way detracts from the hard work, dedication, and perseverance that Yandel has shown. Colangelo continued, “nothing but hard work has gotten Timmy where he is now… he trusts his coaches, and he understands the importance of his mental preparation, conditioning, and bullpen sessions between starts.” He added, “Tim did whatever needed to be done, and was always willing to work hard, even when some guys don’t want to work during the summer.” Despite being a jokester and having fun with his teammates, Yandel mentioned, “when I am pitching, I am a completely different player. I get completely locked in and nothing else matters… or phases me.”
Tim Yandel came to Bethesda this summer as a pitcher, but was asked to DH and to play some first base due to injuries and late arrivals. Yandel explained that he went into the summer with his “main focus on throwing strikes… and developing his slider that [he] just learned.” He continued, “I knew I was going to have the opportunity to hit, but I did not think it would be an everyday role.”
At first base, Yandel showed off his superior athleticism. In the first game of the championship series against the Baltimore Redbirds, Yandel made an incredible leaping catch at the first base fence in foul territory, sacrificing his body for an out, and then quickly firing to third base to complete a miraculous double play. Because the team needed Tim to play first base, he was consistently in the line up, totaling 83 at-bats.
In limited at-bats, Yandel made his mark felt. Tim hit .253 including eight doubles and 2 home runs. Nearly half of his hits on the year were extra base hits. What made Yandel special at the plate was his clutch performance. Manager Colangelo noted, “If we needed a game winning RBI, Tim would do it.” Not only did Tim have 22 RBI on the season, third most on the team, he was only one RBI shy of being tied for second in the entire league behind stud teammate Chris Lewis. What made his RBI total so incredible was that he did it in so few at-bats. The two guys with 21 RBI averaged 114 at-bats to get their RBI total. Four players in the Cal Ripken League totaled 23 RBI, one more than Tim. The average at-bats of those players was more than 124 at-bats, 41 more than Tim Yandel! Yandel also delivered on two of the most memorable plays of the season. In back to back games, against the Herndon Braves and Gaithersburg Giants, Yandel hit walk-off doubles to almost the exact same spot. In the game against the Braves, there were two outs with the bases loaded in the ninth when Tim lifted the 1-1 pitch to deep right center field to give Big Train a victory (WATCH HERE: https://instagram.com/p/37xUk6Jdax/). Against the Braves, the following night, Yandel found himself up again in the bottom of the ninth in a 1-1 count with a man on, and he delivered another walk-off double to right center field (WATCH HERE: https://twitter.com/gobigtrain/status/610635096740265985). Yandel said after the game, “No way I just did that again.”
On the mound, Yandel was a dominant force. Tim pitched 47.2 innings, the second most in the league, and posted a meager 1.51 ERA, fifth best in the league amongst starters. Yandel was tied for fourth in the league with 38 strikeouts, and only walked 10 batters, giving him one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in the entire Cal Ripken League. Opposing batters hit a soft .207 against Yandel and of his eight starts, Tim allowed only two hits four times. Yandel never gave up more than two runs in a start and posted three shutouts. Tim was in control when he stepped on the mound and “he is only going to get better” said Colangelo.
Congratulations on a great summer, Tim Yandel!
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