From the moment Matthew Donald Hague put on a Buffalo Bisons uniform at the end of 2014, he hit like a man possessed. Matt Hague won the International League Most Valuable Player award, after claiming a litany of awards in 2015 (listed below).
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Hague led the Bisons in every offensive category except triples and stolen bases. The Washington native split time between first (68GP) and third (62GP). That flexibility gave manager Gary Allenson more than one way to get his bat into the lineup, which he did on most nights as Hague played 136 games at the Triple-A level and 10 games at the Major League level with the Toronto Blue Jays.
What changed for Matt Hague in 2015? It was quite simple, he maintained his approach through each and every at-bat. He didn’t deviate from his plan which he formulated by watching game tape.
- Player of the Month (July)
- Player of the Week (May, 24th)
- IL Mid-Season All-Star team selection
- IL Postseason All-Star
Hague led the International League with a .338 average, 177 hits, and total bases. Hague’s 92 RBI were one behind league leader Jesus Aguilar of Columbus Clippers and his 33 doubles were good enough to tie him for third.
The 8-year minor league veteran provided Buffalo with a consistent bat in the clean up spot, hitting over .324 in every month expect for September (.222). July was his best month with a .376/.447/.538 slash and he hit 4 HR (the most of any other month). Hague used the entire field as illustrated by the even distribution of red on the Heat Map (provided by mlbfarm.com).
Mandatory credit: mlbfarm.com
Hague walked almost as much as he struck out, walking 10.2% of the time and striking out 10.9 % of the time. That a very good ratio (0.938 BB/K) and helped Hague produce an impressive .416 OBP, .468 slugging %, and .885 OPS.
With a BABIP of .370, luck had a little to do with his stats. A 161 wRC+ shows that he was 61 points better than the rest of the league. Hague also produced an excellent .408 wOBA.
Matt Hague doesn’t have the power that one looks for in a corner infielder, hitting only 11 homeruns and generating a 0.130 ISO will not unseat Edwin Encarnacion or Josh Donaldson as the Toronto Blue Jays 1st/3rd baseman.
Hague is a 30 years old and slightly above league average with the glove, so his glove won’t make him an everyday player for the Blue Jays.
Hague is a good player and after such a good season at the Triple-A level, he should expect to see more MLB time in 2016. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays already have Encarnacion, Donaldson, and Colabello returning to fill in at DH, 3rd and 1st.
What the Blue Jays do withJustin Smoak
will decide whether Matt Hague becomes a viable option for the Jays. Smoak’s likely headed to Free-Agency after his arbitration hearing, much like he did last year. It’s possible that Hague has pushed his way in and pushed Smoak out. Having a doubles machine, who can play both corner infield positions, on the bench encase of emergency is a luxury ManagerJohn Gibbons
Although, Korea came calling last winter and will likely come a knocking again. Will Alex Anthopoulos block the 8-year minor leaguer from making more money so the team has a health insurance policy if JD, CC or EE are required to miss any length of time due to injury? Only Anthopoulos knows for sure, and he ain’t telling.