GOLD COAST, 4 May - Canberra Cavalry second baseman Adam Buschini was named the winner of the prestigious Helms Award, honoured as the 2012/13 Most Valuable Player of the Australian Baseball League brought to you by Be the Influence: Tackling Binge Drinking during the 2013 Baseball Australia Diamond Awards Saturday night on the Gold Coast. Buschini’s remarkable 2012/13 season included the league’s first triple crown as the now San Diego Padres prospect led the ABL in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in, helping to lead the Cavalry to their first ever Claxton Shield. Buschini beat out a pair of Sydney Blue Sox for the accolade: pitcher Craig Anderson and outfielder Mitch Dening.
A former fourth-round draft selection of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, Buschini found himself out of affiliated baseball after just two injury-plagued seasons and some struggles at the plate. In the spring of 2012, he arrived in the nation’s capital, ready to take another shot at resuscitating his career. Mission accomplished.
Buschini surpassed the .300-mark in batting average on 21 December and never looked back. The right-handed hitter batted .363 for the season, blasting 15 home runs to tie a league record, and driving in 50 runs to obliterate the previous ABL best. In addition to being honoured with the Helms Award, Buschini was also tabbed winner of the 2012/13 SAM BAT Champion Crusher award.
As Buschini went, so did the Cavalry. Canberra’s .295 team batting average was 28 points better than any other team in the league. The Claxton Shield champions blasted 56 home runs as a club, 17 more than second-place Adelaide, and Canberra’s 264 runs scored paced the circuit, as well. The Cavalry clinched the ABL’s top postseason seed at the end of the regular season, earning a direct trip through to host the ABL Championship Series. There, Canberra swept two-time reigning champions Perth for the first Claxton Shield crown in ACT history.
California native Buschini capitalised on his outstanding campaign, signing a new contract with the San Diego Padres at the conclusion of the 2012/13 ABL season. Currently, the 25-year-old is plying his trade at Double-A San Antonio where he has played in 13 games for the Missions.
Another Cavalry slugger starred in the league’s Play of the Year. Veteran Michael Wells’s tiebreaking solo home run late in game two of the 2013 ABL Championship Series tipped the scales of the title set and led Canberra to victory.
Anderson and Dening were the league’s other Helms Award finalists. Veteran pitcher Anderson led the ABL in ERA and set a new league record with eight victories while Dening finished second to Buschini in the batting race, hitting .347 as Sydney made their third consecutive ABL Postseason.
Anderson did not go away empty-handed from the BADAs. The left-hander claimed ABL Pitcher of the Year while his staff’s closer, Matt Williams, took home Reliever of the Year accolades. Perth catcher and first baseman Allan de San Miguel and Adelaide third baseman Stefan Welch shared Golden Glove honours after fantastic defensive campaigns. Welch’s Adelaide teammate Ben Lodge was named ABL Rookie of the Year.
Perth claimed the award for Team Administration of the Year as the Heat participated in their third straight ABLCS while leading the way in attendance, sponsorship, and memberships. The league also honoured the Victorian state government with this year’s Chairman’s Award for their commitment to the future of the Melbourne Aces with substantial support for the renovation of Melbourne Ballpark which hosted the 2012 ABL All-Star Game and has established itself as one of the league’s top venues.
Opening Day for the 2013/14 Australian Baseball League season is just six months away, and memberships are on sale now for all six ABL teams.