TinCaps manager Jose Valentin doesn’t have to name a most valuable player for the first half.
But he isn’t shy about who it has been. Infielder Maxx Tissenbaum got the nod, without a moment’s hesitation from his manager.
“The best player I’ve had for the first half has gotta be him,” Valentin said after a 4-for-5 day from Tissenbaum on Tuesday. “If somebody had to name the MVP of the first half, it’s gotta be Tissenbaum.”
Tissenbaum has played in all but five of Fort Wayne’s games and started at shortstop against Lake County on Wednesday at Parkview Field.
With regular shortstop Stephen Carmon on the disabled list with what could be a serious injury, Tissenbaum switched over from second base. He has remained consistent in the field and at the plate.
And during a stretch in which Fort Wayne (40-23) won 15 of 16 games and clinched a playoff spot, the utility infielder from Canada has been one of the team’s best players.
Tissenbaum, in a way, orchestrated the streak. His two-run home run May 26 gave Fort Wayne its first win in an six-game winning streak.
Tissenbaum didn’t credit himself for the turnaround, but he did admit that late-game home run breathed some life into the TinCaps.
“All of a sudden, everybody goes, ‘OK. The sun can shine again,’.” Tissenbaum said. “It just kind of builds on itself. There’s a lot of key hits. You can’t put it on one game.”
Ten games later, the TinCaps were 17 games above .500 and the hottest team in the Midwest League.
And Valentin said his go-to player, who has more appearances than anyone else on the Fort Wayne roster, deserves some recognition for that streak.
“That means a lot,” Tissenbaum said after hearing what Valentin said. “I definitely didn’t expect that. That’s pretty cool. It’s always nice to get a personal accolade like that, but the No. 1 thing we’re all trying to do is just win.
“When you win, everybody’s gonna get noticed. Everybody’s gonna get paid. That’s the way that it works.”
Tissenbaum leads the team in hits (62), doubles (18) and is in the top-3 in on-base percentage (.393), batting average (.287), runs (35) and total bases (86).
After a sloppy May, which featured a .236 batting average, Tissenbaum has a .364 average in June. His .325 in April was also one of the team-leading averages.
And with another half of baseball ahead, as well as a few more games left in this half, Tissenbaum wants more of the same.
“What we’re doing right now is working,” he said. “We’re beating some good teams. We’re playing really well. Don’t change anything.”