BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY —
Traverse City third baseman Jose Vargas won the Morgan Burkhart Award on Thursday as the Frontier League's MVP.
Vargas entered Thursday's night game leading the league with 29 home runs and 98 RBIs.
"I don't want to take all the credit for this," Vargas said. "I won the award, but I couldn't have done it without my teammates. We just have a great bunch of guys. Everybody gets on base, everybody does their part.
"(Ryan) Still, he set the record for walks. He's always on base. (Brian) Heere, too. Then, having (Chase) Burch, (Jeff) Flagg and (Kyle) Colligan hitting behind me, they (opposing pitchers) can't pitch around anyone on our team. We're all good hitters."
The Beach Bums, sporting the league's best record at 62-30, dominated the post-season awards. Gregg Langbehn received the Roger Hanners Award as Manager of the Year.
All-Star honors went to Burch at first base, Still at second, Vargas at third and Flagg in the outfield.
Traverse City, which leads the league in attendance, also claimed Organization of the Year honors.
"All the players chosen deserved it, earned it," Langbehn said. "There are some guys who could have been selected, but there's only so many votes, so many spots available.
Nonetheless, they've all contributed significantly to the success of the Beach Bums."
Vargas in particular. He needs one more home run, and two RBIs, to become the first player in the 20-year history of the league to hit 30 round-trippers and drive in 100 runs.
"He's had quite a summer," Langbehn said. "He's in a position to break a record, and quite a significant record at that. He's had guys on base in front of him, but you still need to capitalize, and Jose has done that."
The regular season ends Sunday and the Beach Bums have already set a team record for wins. Traverse City wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the playoffs earlier this week, which made Langbehn the odds-on favorite to win managerial honors.
"You need to be around not only the right people, but good people, good players," he said. "It takes a complete team effort to be recognized for that. I'm proud of it (award), but without the people around me here at the ballpark and my family back home, it doesn't happen."
Burch, meanwhile, is hitting .310 with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs. Still is hitting at .311 with a league-record 104 walks and an on-base percentage of.516. He is on target to become just the third player in league history with an on-base percentage over .500. Flagg's smacked 19 home runs and driven in 75 runs.
"It's been an incredible season for these guys," Langbehn said. "But I think they would all tell you there's a bigger prize hopefully awaiting us (league title). That's been the goal since day one."
Traverse City opens the playoffs next week.