Theo Fightmaster, General Manager
Sonoma Stompers right-handed pitcher Sean Conroy enjoyed an historic 2015 season. And after being voted the Pacific Association’s top defender off the mound, he’s earning even more hardware. On Wednesday, Conroy was named league’s top relief pitcher for the 2015 season.
Conroy, 23, of Clifton Park, New York, pitched in 22 games for Sonoma and was outstanding in his first year of professional baseball. The rookie tallied a 5-3 record with a 2.70 ERA, including 10 saves (second in the league among qualified pitchers), and a remarkable strikeout-to-walk ratio of 52-15. Opposing batters hit just .192 against him with a WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) of 0.950, tops in the league among pitchers who pitched at least 20 innings.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound was a true asset to the Stompers, pitching in a variety of roles. In addition to his four starts, Conroy appeared out of the bullpen 18 times, earning three wins along with his 10 saves. In the second half, Conroy was used in a “fireman’s” role, pitching multiple innings of relief after coming in at the game’s most critical point – not simply in the final inning.
When opposing hitters put the ball in play against Conroy, their luck didn’t change much. They accumulated a meager .202 batting average in those at-bats. His component ERA, (ERC is a baseball statistic invented by famed baseball statistician Bill James, and attempts to forecast a pitcher's earned run average from the number of hits and walks allowed rather than the standard formula of average number of earned runs per nine innings). Using that metric, Conroy was the second best pitcher in the Association with an ERC of 1.986, and best among pitchers who pitched at least 20 innings.
Conroy garnered international attention in late June becoming the first openly gay active professional baseball player. Conroy then made his first career start on the team’s Pride Night in spectacular fashion. Conroy threw a complete game shutout against the Vallejo Admirals, allowing only three hits and striking out 11, leading the Stompers to a 7-0 victory in front of a packed house and hordes of reporters, and television cameras.
The award signifies a continued theme of Stompers representation. The team saw seven of it's players voted the best defenders at their positions, and outfielder Mark Hurley was voted the league's rookie of the year.
The voting body for the league was comprised of front office personnel, managers, coaches and broadcasters. Voters selected the top two defensive players by position. The league will announce more awards based on the following schedule:
Manager of the Year: Monday, October 26
Pitcher of the Year: Wednesday, October 28
Most Valuable Player: Monday, November 2