Now that the 2020 season has been long finished, the Connecticut Wiffleball League finally found it time to hand out recognition for the best performing players. On September 27th, the League virtually hosted the inaugural CTWL Awards, which were hosted by CTWL Commissioner Benjamin Fiore. The show was livestreamed on the League's Instagram account, @ctwlwiffle, (which you should follow if you have not done so already) from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York: the college dwelling of Commissioner Fiore. Over the course of the 45-minute-plus presentation, the League handed out fourteen awards and the selections to four Select Teams, the All-Star Team, and the Golden Hand and Yellow Slugger recipient teams.
If you were not able to see the show yet, checked out the embedded version below to give it a watch (sorry about the orientation issue - Instagram only allows IGTV videos to be demonstrated in portrait orientation only. For the best watching experience, please consider watching in the Instagram app).
Having announced all of the award winners for this season, now it is a good time to reflect on the accomplishments these special players achieved during this past season. Since most of you do not know all of the awards available, here is a quick list of all of them, generally in the order that they were presented: General Awards:
Rookie of the Year - Best overall first-year player
Most Improved Player of the Year
Golden Hand (3 Recipients) - Best defensive players per position
Platinum Hand - Best overall defensive player
Yellow Slugger (3 Recipients) - Best offensive players per position
Kyle Schultz Award - Best overall offensive player
Benjamin J Fiore Dedication Award
Tracy DeCosta Supporters Award
Fair Play Award (Player and Club Recipient)
Most Clutch Award
Sean Steffy Award - Best pitcher
Most Valuable Player - Best overall player
All-CTWL Rookie First Team
All-CTWL Rookie Second Team
All-CTWL First Team
All-CTWL Second Team
Connecticut Wiffleball League Pro League World Series Champions
Connecticut Wiffleball League Pro League World Series Most Valuable Player
Rookie of the Year: Patrick Grudberg (Shoreline Breakers) Notable 2020 Regular Season Statistics: 3 GP - .519 AVG - .683 OBP - 7 HR
The Shoreline Breakers sure did find a gem when they picked up free agent Patrick Grudberg in the middle of the season. Despite the lack of results that came during his abbreviated time in the latter half of the regular season, Grudberg made sure the Connecticut wiffle world took notice, having multi-HR games in each of his 3 regular season appearances. With his great eye and positive attitude going into every at-bat, Patrick never made it easy for opposing pitchers to throw to him. Patrick's most notable showing came in the Breakers' only home series of the season (that was not forfeited by the opposition unfortunately), hitting 4-for-8 in 13 plate appearances, hitting a career-high 4 home runs with 8 runs batted in. A LOT of hitting came out of this young wiffler in that game, even though it may be overshadowed by the even-more mesmerizing performance from his Club Manager. While there are some holes in his game on the defensive end, it may not matter if he can continue to swing the bat as well as he did in 2020. Most Improved Player of the Year: Ryan Mut (Augerville Defenders) Notable 2020 Regular Season Statistics: 8 GP - .515 AVG - 34 H - 59 RBI Back before the season was scheduled to begin in April and May, Augerville Defenders Club Manager Ben Fiore was not sure of how he would deploy his teammate Ryan Mut into the game plan. With the sight of other great talents also on the roster, many believed that Ryan would serve as nothing more than a role player and sidekick to his Club's boss. And while he may have not have been able to match the pure talent of his Manager, there are few No. 2 bats that are as good as Number 42 for the black and white. Whenever you needed a big hit to drive in a run or two, or a walk to extend a rally, Ryan Mut came up big time and time again. His .500+ AVG and 59 RBI - both stats being league-leaders - were clear evidence of that fact. What is even more surprising in the development of Ryan Mut is his skills as a pitcher. Mut threw the majority of innings for Augerville - 18 1/3 exactly - and while having rare innings where implosion occurred, he showed the potential to be a legitimate No. 2 starter moving forward. His combination of a sweeping slider and floating drop makes his less-desirable velocity stand out and be a threat to any Club thinking they are just going to see heat as with the aces. The high ceiling of Mut has got to have the Augerville organization and fanbase super excited for his future, but that hope would not have been possible if it were not for the contributions Mut made in their 2020 Pro League World Series run. Platinum Hand: Conor DeCosta (Shoreline Breakers) Notable 2020 Regular Season Statistics: 5 GP 4 A - 5 PO - 1.000 F% Diving, falling, tumbling, leaping - if there was a stat to show the effort displayed on defense by DeCosta throughout this 2020 regular season, he would have left a record that few may beat in the future. Even when the defensive play of the Shoreline Breakers may have been a little suspect at times, Conor made sure to do his part in helping his pitchers get out of tough spots. Conor stood out with his inability to be flattered by any ball hit at him, whether it be on the carpet or in the field. His great wingspan and soft touch with the ball in his hands made him a spot you did not want to hit the ball too, because chances were #3 was going to run it down. Combined with his pitching development as the season wore on, DeCosta is going to continue to be a cornerstone of the Breakers defensive game plan for years to come. Kyle Schultz Award: Conor DeCosta (Shoreline Breakers) Notable 2020 Regular Season Statistics: 5 GP - .600 AVG - 2.341 OPS - 12 HR Yeah, Conor DeCosta was not just good with his hands. He was even BETTER with the stick. Averaging over 2 home runs per game (yes, that is true) DeCosta was a sure threat to leave the ballpark at nearly any moment during the 2020 regular season. Batting to a .600 AVG and a ludicrous 2.341 OPS - the best among players with 5+ games played - the Breakers manager was an easy choice to be named as the best hitter of the 2020 campaign. Conor was nearly always on-base, constantly helping to bring across runs for his Club when they wanted to put the foot down. The craziest performance seen from this player was the previously-mentioned home game against the Augerville Defenders on August 8th. In their last played regular season game, hitting a single-game record SIX dingers in the process, and failing to reach base only once in 10 tries. If that offensive performance is ever beaten, then I don't know - that person ought to be from another planet. Conor will look to continue his offensive display in 2021, and maybe be named the Kyle Schultz winner for a second consecutive season. Benjamin J Fiore Dedication Award: Patrick Grudberg (Shoreline Breakers) Outside of his performances on-paper, Patrick's performances of the stats no one looks at are perhaps even more emphatic. Patrick was a vocal member of the Breakers' squad, and was constantly invested into the Club and his contributions. Following back-to-back walk-off losses in his debut in early August, Patrick reportedly texted his fellow teammates to hold an emergency practice in the next day or two. While many of them could not do it due to personal obligations, Patrick could, and helped himself to several rounds of batting practice. The next game on August 8th: 4 home runs, and not a single strikeout. While the Breakers lost the effort in a lob-sided affair, Patrick proved that he would not go down without an effort, and made every attempt to improve his game in order to help the team win. Off the field, Grudberg was constantly invested in the league, paying close eye to the League's social media pages and posting exciting messages whenever he or his teammates were featured. No matter the medium, Patrick made the best of his short time in the League this season, and earned his selection as the 2020 Benjamin J Fiore Dedication Award recipient. Tracy DeCosta Supporters Award: Shoreline Breakers The Shoreline Breakers were a Club that beamed with passion and enthusiasm for the game every time they arrived at the field. Whenever you saw them take their places, you know this team was going to play to win, and have quite a bit of fun doing it. Led by Club Manager Conor DeCosta, the Club played to win every single game, and practiced constantly to improve their skills - even if it meant they were doing so individually. If there is any one way to model a franchise or a Club, the Shoreline Breakers' on-field product is one hell of a way to do it, and hopefully more and more Clubs will take note of that in the seasons ahead. Fair Play Award: Player: Patrick Grudberg (Shoreline Breakers) Team: Portland Trail Wifflers Most Clutch Award: Benjamin Fiore (Augerville Defenders) Notable 2020 Regular Season Statistics: 8 GP - .442 AVG - .774 OBP - 1 SV The Commissioner, The Skipper, The Boneman - no matter what you decided to call him, Ben Fiore was the most dependable player of the 2020 regular season. Ben was big in key spots, getting on base when his side needed to manufacture runs in bulk, and getting a big strikeout when needed to get out of a big jam. While none of his numbers are overly impressive, they are consistently good across the board, ranging in the upper half of players in walks, home runs, RBIs, ERA, Ks, and more. Fiore was a large contributor to his side in 2020, and given some further
development, could be in touted as the best player heading into 2021. Sean Steffy Award: Liam Wallace (Shoreline Breakers) Notable 2020 Regular Season Statistics: 2 GP - 1-0 W-L - .292 BAA - 3.60 WHIP It was hard to go up to the plate in 2020 thinking Liam Wallace was going to give you anything close to hittable. That is just how good number 12 was in his short rookie showing this summer. While having limited innings this season due to other obligations, his lone 5.0 innings pitched were impressive enough to take home the award for the League's top pitcher. In a year where many arms were just trying to get acclimated to the pace of fastpitch, Liam came out firing from the moment he started his first game back on July 15th. His combination of a powering slider and a swooping drop made his arsenal the deadliest in the league. Had he been able to pitch more games this season, Liam Wallace would have led the League in nearly every pitching category. But maybe it is best he only gave a small glimpse in 2021. His best may yet be to come, and if so, this may not be the last time he adorns this award in his young wiffling career. Most Valuable Player: Conor DeCosta (Shoreline Breakers) Notable 2020 Regular Season Statistics: 8 GP - .600 AVG - 2.341 OPS - 12 HR A great competitor, a great companion, and most of all, a bad-ass wiffler. Those three phrases go to summarize Conor DeCosta's 2020 season performance in a nutshell. With his lethal bat and tremendous fielding ability, Conor was a player that could take over the game at any moment, giving his Club a great chance to win whenever he took the field. Despite not playing nor winning as many game as he may have hoped, DeCosta's ability to impact the game both offensively and defensively made him a consensus choice to be named the Connecticut Wiffleball League's Most Valuable Player in 2020. He has been able to take home many awards from his personal work this season, but this one probably edges them all out as being the most impressive.
Select Teams: 2020 CTWL All-Stars:
2020 CTWL All-Rookie First Team:
2020 CTWL All-Rookie Second Team:
2020 All-CTWL First Team:
2020 All-CTWL Second Team:
2020 CTWL Golden Hand Recipients:
2020 CTWL Yellow Slugger Recipients:
To all those who received an award for the 2020 Connecticut Wiffleball League Pro League season: congratulations! Ben Fiore has followed wiffleball since 2017, with his love leading to the creation of the Connecticut Wiffleball League. Follow him on his Instagram and Twitter pages from the username by the article title.