Jersey Village HS grad Nick Stavinoha breaks several records for Memphis
Jersey Village High School graduate Nick Stavinoha went 2-for-4 with two doubles, a run scored and three RBIS as the Memphis Redbirds defeated the Nashville Sounds, 5-2, Sunday.
Stavinoha set a franchise record with his 94th career double in what has been a record-setting season for the outfielder/first baseman
Stavinoha, 29, will be a free agent after the season. In all likelihood, the Redbirds season finale at 1:05 p.m. today will be his last as a member of the Cardinals organization.
The newspaper the Memphis Commercial Appeal did a special on Stavinoha in its Monday editions. Excerpts from the special on the Jersey Village HS grad are below:
A seventh-round draft pick in 2005 out of LSU, Stavinoha has set six all-time career records with the Redbirds--games played (477), at-bats (1,812), hits (529), home runs (74), RBIs (313) and doubles (94). This year he has also broken the club's single season record with 525 at-bats and he drove in three runs in Sunday night's 5-1 win over Nashville to set the club's single season record of 109 RBI.
"I'm very fortunate to have those (records)," Stavinoha said. "Some of the career goals were obviously not in my mind at the beginning of my career. I would like to have contributed to the big league ball club a bit more. But it is what it is. I'm very fortunate to have this year."
The 6-2, 240-pound slugger saved his best season for his last, putting up one of the best all-around seasons in Redbirds history. He enters tonight's game batting .272 with career highs in homers (28) and RBI (109). He is just the third Redbird to record 100 RBI in a season, joining Kevin Witt (107) and Ivan Cruz (100).
The number that stands out most is Stavinoha's homers. Prior to this season, the most he had in a season was 16 with the Redbirds in 2008.
"I went a little different route this year," he said. "Usually I try to hit for as high an average as I can and get as many hits as I can. This year I decided to focus on the power side and see where that takes me. I think more just proving to myself and everyone else that I can do either one."
Stavinoha also used the 2011 season to prove he can still be of value to a big league club, whether it be in St. Louis or elsewhere. Stavinoha spent most of last year with the Cardinals where he was primarily used as a pinch hitter, and on occasion a backup outfielder.
He hit .256 overall with two homers and nine RBI in 79 games. But in his 53 pinch hit appearances, Stavinoha was tied for fourth among major league players with 15 pinch hits, hitting .283 in that role. Both of his homers were pinch hits.
"That was my role to pinch hit and I created a routine for it," he said. "I took it seriously and I had some success in that role. I felt like I was ready to build on it and do more. I feel like I can go right back into it if there's an opportunity to do it next year."
Needless to say, he was excited about coming back to expand on his success this season. But during the winter, Stavinoha was surprisingly taken off the Cardinals' 40-man roster. After failing to make the club out of spring training, he was sent back to Memphis.
"Honestly, I was a little bit confused," he said. "I didn't really know what had happened there. I was in the big leagues most of the year and did what they asked me to do. I did it to the best of my ability. I didn't really see it coming. I thought I going to have another great opportunity to make the team."
Rather than report to Memphis a bitter player, Stavinoha brought the same workman-like attitude he has always had. That didn't go unnoticed in the clubhouse.
Even when he was passed up several times throughout the season when the Cardinals brought up other players, Stavinoha remained the same player.
"He's one of those guys that when he signs up to do something, he's going to do it," Redbirds manager Chris Maloney said. "He came in here and he's had an outstanding season for us. He didn't let anything bother him. He didn't let circumstances define him.
"That's really refreshing when you see a guy that comes down from the big leagues all last year, gets a bad break, and he's still the same guy he was before. That's a credit to the kind of guy he is. Every ballplayer can look at Nick Stavinoha, I don't care if it's the low levels of the minor leagues or anybody in the big leagues, they can look at the way he goes about his business. That's as good a blueprint as you can have."
In addition to the numbers he put up this season, Stavinoha spent time teaching the host of young Redbirds who were still learning to play at the Triple-A level.
"Stavy has been a big help to us," outfielder Adron Chambers said. "He's shown us not just on the field, but with his wisdom off the field. He's a great inspiration for us younger guys and how we should handle ourselves."
Stavinoha said he will look at all of his options during the off-season, even if there is one to return to the Cardinals. But chances are this afternoon will be the last time he plays in a Redbirds jersey.
Just the thought of it is what will make the season-ending goodbyes even more difficult.
"These guys have been my friends for a long time," Stavinoha said. "That includes the staff. It's going to be tough to leave them. I couldn't ask for a better opportunity as far as Triple-A baseball goes. I've really enjoyed this staff and this place. Memphis will have a special place in my heart for the rest of my life, and so will all of the people that I came across while I was here."
One thing is for certain, Stavinoha left his mark on the Redbirds in more ways than one.
"You're not supposed to have favorites when you're managing, but we do," Maloney said. "He's one of my all-time favorites."
On the season, Stavinoha, a right fielder, is batting .272 with 109 RBIs and 28 home runs.
Stavinoha is a 2000 graduate of Jersey Village High School. He made multiple stops in his college baseball career playing at the University of Houston, San Jacinto College and Louisiana State University. He spent two seasons (2004 and 2005) in Baton Rouge batting .348 with 26 home runs and 107 RBIs in 121 career games for the Bayou Bengals. In 2005 as a senior, Stavinoha was named MVP of the Baton Rouge regional of the NCAA tournament after a season in which he hit .370 with 18 home runs.
He was drafted in the seventh round (230th overall) of the 2005 MLB draft by St. Louis. Stavinoha advanced to triple-A Memphis of the Pacific Coast League in 2007, his second full pro season, and one year later he made his Major League debut for the Cardinals on June 22, 2008. He appeared in 29 games in 2008 for St. Louis batting .193 with four RBIs, and he spent 112 games with Memphis where he was a .337 hitter with 16 homers in 74 RBIs to earn PCL all-star honors. In 2009, Stavinoha hit .282 with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs in 72 games for Memphis while also appearing in 39 games for St. Louis, where he hit .230 and hit two homers. He spent the bulk of 2010 at St. Louis hitting .256 with two homers and nine RBIs in 79 games while also appearing in 23 contests for Memphis. Stavinoha was born May 3, 1982, in Houston.
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