At just 23-years old outfielder Aaron Whitefield has won his second Helms Award, recognising his as the 2020 Australian Baseball League MVP. Whitefield previously received the Helms Award in 2017 at the Brisbane Bandits, before he moved to Adelaide ahead of the 2018/19 season.
This past season the Team Australia starter strung together a career-best campaign; a .376 batting average, 47 hits, 24 RBI, 23 stolen bases and a .983 OPS (on-base + slugging percentage).
Coming off a quieter first year in Adelaide, Whitefield said he wanted to show he could evolve as a player.
“I felt I had a point to prove,” Whitefield said to baseball.com.au.
“A lot of people doubted me after I won the first on (Helms) that it was a bit of luck.
“It was a bit of a chip on the shoulder.
“But i feel like I’m a player that can do a lot of different things.
“It might not be hitting 20 home runs but I can do damage other ways, like get on base and steal every time and score from second on a ball in the infield.
“I do my damage in other ways and had to learn what kind of player I was to become better.”
From the opening round against Brisbane all signs pointed to a brilliant season for the Minnesota Twins prospect.
Whitefield scored the winning run from second base in a walk-off, before an eighth inning grand slam in the Sunday finale secured a stunning series sweep against his former team, and the three-time defending champions.
His speed was captivating, showcased by 23 stolen bases and two triples.
Twice he pounced on fielding errors to round all four bases, against Sydney and Geelong-Korea.
Defense matched offense as Whitefield patrolled centrefield and used every ounce of athleticism to make difficult grabs look easy.
On a personal level the success was a result of staying true to himself.
“I got away from being me,” Whitefield said.
“I’m a bigger guy and people see that I should have crazy power but also forget I’m the fastest one out there.
“I don’t have to try and hit the ball over the fence, because that’s what I was trying to do the year before and I just wasn’t getting on base.
“If I hit a home run, I hit a home run, but really just trying to get on base to do my damage like that was the aim.
“Then the team does the rest.”
Whitefield, who recently signed a two-year contract extension, is the fifth Adelaide player to be named ABL MVP after Markus Solbach (2018/19), Aaron Miller (2014/15), James McOwen (2010/11) and Andrew Scott (1996/97).
The move to Adelaide was a challenge but with at least a decade of baseball still ahead there is the potential for Whitefield to truly achieve something special domestically.
We're catching up with newly announced defensive player of the year Aaron Whitefield! Come join us!
Posted by Adelaide Giants on Thursday, 16 April 2020
“In Brisbane I was the youngest, I was the young buck who could just run wild,” he said.
“The role was almost reversed [in Adelaide], and I tried to talk too much.
“This year I said hey I’m going to play, be me and let my actions be my words.
“The young guys really focused on that.
“You can’t have missing pieces, you’ve all got to be there for the one goal and have each other’s backs.”