These and other achievements from the 2016 season have been announced by Joe Gray of Project COBB.
Grant Delzoppo made his National Baseball League debut in 1995. Playing for the London Warriors, he had just five at-bats that year, picking up a solitary hit. After this taster, he returned to the league in 2003 and since then has been a perennial contender for the batting title.
After posting averages between .333 and .375 from 2006 to 2009, Delzoppo broke the .400 barrier in 2010 to finish fourth in the batting title race (https://is.gd/kxiM9H).
The following year he went two places better, losing out to Edwin Alcantara on the final day of the regular season (https://is.gd/CiXDYW).
And in 2013 (https://is.gd/YT5QTW) Delzoppo was second again, this time to Ryan Bird, the NBL’s all-time leader in batting average.
Now his first title has come in 2016. At the age of 44, Delzoppo posted an average of .521 (after adjustment up to the qualifying number of plate appearances), which was just good enough to edge out 2015 triple-crown winner Maikel Azcuy (.519).
Another stand-out player in 2016 was Francisco Gonzalez, the championship-winning Southampton Mustangs’ ace. As well as leading the league in wins (7), he became the first player to defend the NBL’s Most Valuable Two-Way Player award (for pitching and hitting) since Simon Pole won three on the trot between 2001 and 2003.
Also excelling for the Mustangs in 2016 were sluggers Maikel Azcuy and Gary Davison. As mentioned above, Azcuy finished second in the batting race, but he led the league in RBIs for a record fourth time (https://is.gd/La71ZZ) and is now joint all-time leader in this category with Hall of Famer Brad Thompson (237).
In addition, Azcuy’s National Championship win with Southampton adds to four titles won in the previous five years, moving him to joint fifth all-time (https://is.gd/AFclJO).
Davison, meanwhile, clubbed eight home runs, the first time a player had achieved this in the NBL since Pole in 2005, and this earned Davison the Most Valuable Batter title.
The Most Valuable Pitcher award for 2016 has gone to the London Mets’ Tyson Walker, who led the league in ERA (2.25) and strikeouts (80). Walker also threw a shutout in Game 1 of the National Championship final, the first time this feat had been achieved during a championship game in over 20 years.
Two other stand-out pitching performances during the year both came from Southampton’s Rei Martinez, who threw a no-hitter for the Mustangs on Opening Day and then notched up 16 strikeouts in a seven-inning start against the Brighton Jets in July.
This performance matched his effort for the Bracknell Blazers on 11 August 2013 (https://is.gd/leq2Cc) and has only been bettered once in a seven-inning outing, by Hall of Famer Cody Cain in 2004 (18 strikeouts).
Cain is the all-time leader in strikeouts per nine innings, with a rate of 12.7. Martinez needs a dozen more innings to qualify for career pitching rankings and is currently striking out batters at a rate of 12.6.
The Project for the Chronicling of British Baseball (Project COBB) is an online collaboration aimed at restoring the record of British baseball's past and preserving its present.
Its website is located at: http://www.projectcobb.org.uk/.