Going Back-to-Back: Will Kevin Cron Be The Generals’ Second Straight Southern League MVP?

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Can you name the last time a Southern League franchise had their players win Most Valuable Player awards in consecutive seasons?

We’d forgive Kevin Cron (or any Southern League player, for that matter) if they didn’t know. It hasn’t happened in this millennium, and you can barely say that it’s happened in Cron’s lifetime. Cron was a year and a few months old when Pittsburgh prospect Mark Johnson won it with the Carolina Mudcats in 1994; Cron had turned two by the time future Pirates catcher Jason Kendall won it for the Mudcats in 1995. Back-to-back MVPs from the same franchise happened twice in the 1980s and twice in the 1990s, actually, but it hasn’t happened since. That’s a credit to the rising quality of development among the many farm systems that feed Major League Baseball.

Cron, the 24-year-old first baseman for the Jackson Generals, has a strong chance to bring home the award in 2017. But sportsfolk, as history has proven, can define the word “valuable” in a number of different ways, and that may rob Cron of the league’s highest individual recognition. “MegaCron”–as a Generals fan on social media has appreciatively characterized him–has been essential to Jackson’s successes this year, and we’ll give him some printed-word respect on this page, regardless of how the league ends up voting.

First, though, a look at his competition for MVP:

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By the Numbers

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The First Half of the season is over, and what a 70 games it was for the Jackson Generals. The team clinched a playoff berth with eight games left to play, and then proceeded to make a little bit of history. Lets run down what this team was able to accomplish by the numbers.

46: The number of wins the Generals finished with in the First Half, a franchise record. The West Tenn Diamond Jaxx won 45 games in the Second Half of the 1999 and 2000 seasons. It is not technically the best half in franchise history as 46-24 amounts to a .657 win percentage while the 2000 squad went 45-33 in 68 games (.662). The all-time record for wins in a season is 84, also held by that 2000 squad which has the only Southern League Championship in franchise history.

A couple other notes: The Generals were the first team to win 46 games in a half since Huntsville in 2014. The last time a team won more than 46 in a half in the league was 2009. Birmingham won 48 in the First Half and Jacksonville won 47 in the Second Half.

25: The number of home wins for the Generals in the First Half alone. The team is a league-best 25-8 at their home yard in Jackson. This is all the more remarkable considering the fact that the team won just 23 games at home all season long in 2015. They did this despite losing a pair of home games. Hopefully, the team will get 35 in West Tennessee after the break.

30: The number of quality starts thrown by the pitching staff in 70 games. That’s crazy. The team got at least six innings and three earned runs or fewer in almost half of hte games they played in.

The numbers comparing this year’s team to last are staggering. The Generals finished the First Half only seven wins shy of the 2015 total. Last year, the team had 29 total quality starts. In 138 games. This year’s team surpassed that in 70 contests.

9: The number of games the Generals won in a row from May 26 to June 3 and the number of shutout wins the team has. We’ll start with the winning streak because that was pivotal. All nine games were on the road and it took the Generals from 2.5 games up in the division to a nine-game advantage. They wound up winning the North by 10 games. It was the longest winning streak for the team since becoming the Generals in 2011. In 2010, the Diamond Jaxx won 10 in a row.

The Generals lead the league with nine shutout victories and they’ve only been shut out once, which is the fewest among teams in the league. That one loss was in a seven-inning game to boot. This is after a year in which the team was 10-21 in shutouts.

176: The number of walks allowed by Generals’ pitchers this year, by far the fewest in the Southern League. Chattanooga, which ranks second, has issued 200 free passes. Control the Zone has been the mantra throughout the Mariners organization this season, and Jackson has certainly taken to it. The team ranks among the top three in walks and strikeouts for both hitters and pitchers.


After Tuesday night’s All-Star game, the Generals are back at it for the Second Half. Things get started Thursday in Chattanooga before the team returns home the following week for a series against Dansby Swanson and the Mississippi Braves.

Here’s to a Second Half that matches, or at least comes close to matching, a historic First Half of 2016 for the Generals.