BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City Beach Bums did everything but win the Frontier League title in 2012.
The Beach Bums posted the third-best regular season record in league history, had the league MVP in third baseman Jose Vargas and Manager of the Year in Gregg Langbehn.
Traverse City also captured Organization of the Year.
What the Beach Bums did not capture was the post-season title. That honor went to the Southern Illinois Miners.
"It was an awesome team to be a part of," closer Matt Miller said. "The only downside was that everybody expected to win the whole thing and we came up short."
The Beach Bums finished 64-32 in winning the East Division by seven games over Florence. Southern Illinois was third, eight games back.
"We won two out of every three games we played, which is hard to do," All Star first baseman Chase Burch said.
The Beach Bums big season is our No. 3 story of 2012.
"It was an incredible season," Langbehn said right after it concluded in September. "They (players) were disappointed (about the finish). But they understand that's the way it goes sometimes. They had one of the best seasons in history of the Frontier League."
The Beach Bums led the league in runs, walks, home runs and total bases. They were second in hits and third in batting average.
The pitching staff posted the league's best earned run average and the bullpen topped the charts in saves.
Nobody was better than Vargas. He set team records with 29 home runs and 100 RBIs. The 100 RBIs tied a league record. A slick fielder, Vargas also hit .290.
He was one of four everyday starters to earn post-season All-Star honors. Burch, second baseman Ryan Still and outfielder Jeff Flagg were the others.
Burch finished 10th in league in hitting at .304. He smacked 17 home runs and was fifth in the league with 76 RBIs. Still hit .301 and set a league mark with 110 walks. He became just the third player in league history with a .500 or better on-base percentage, finishing at .510. Flagg drilled 20 home runs and drove in 83 runs.
On the mound, Reid Kelly and Brooks Belter won 10 games apiece.
Langbehn went with a set lineup most of the season. The Beach Bums made few transactions.
"I'm convinced that played a major part in our success," he said. "There was production, there was consistency, there was a camaraderie that I've never been part of before. It was that good. There was never a need to make a trade."
"There wasn't a weak part on that team," he said. "We didn't have any reason to make changes. Everything was going so well."
Now the key will be to try and keep the nucleus together for another run at the title.
Miller and Still are already locked up for 2013.
"That group of guys we had was unbelievable," Miller said. "I'm hoping they can bring back most of the guys because we would like to finish it out strong and win the whole thing this time."