Kobe Kato (Arizona) swings in his first at-bat for the Big Train, unaware of what the season had in store for him.
Murmurs early on in the season were that this could be one of the greatest Bethesda Big Train teams of all-time. The buzz lingered in the air all year, palpable throughout Shirley Povich Field. As the season progressed and the team strung together win upon win, the discussion only intensified.
While it would be much too difficult to truly examine the ins-and-outs of determining whether or not this is the greatest Big Train team given the transient nature of summer league teams, one thing is for sure: these ten records the team and its players set will make you look twice. The 2019 Bethesda Big Train season promised big things, and at the conclusion of the season, with another championship in the books, it became clear they had lived up to the hype. While numbers cannot truly demonstrate that to those of you unable to witness it in the flesh, they serve as the best approximation available to us.
Let's get to it:
1. Individual Stolen Bases in a Season; Gio Diaz (Big Train '19) - 39; Old record: Andrew Greene (T-Bolts '05) - 31
Gio Diaz (St. Mary's CA) was a base-stealing extraordinaire. With a high on-base percentage and quality top-end speed, Diaz terrorized opposing catchers nightly as he dashed his way into the record books. It's worth noting that Diaz also broke the Big Train single-season stolen base record (26; Stephen Alemais 2014) and the Big Train career stolen base record (38; Jonnie Knoble 2004-05), despite only playing one season in Bethesda.
2. Individual Batting Average in a Season; Kobe Kato (Big Train '19) - .441; Old record: Bret Williams (River Dogs '12) - .433
Kobe Kato (Arizona) earned a moniker in the press box at Shirley Povich Field--"the man with a one thousand batting average." That name owes itself to the fact that, as the season progressed, one thing always seemed certain: when Kato came to the plate, a hit could nearly be expected. He led the league with 49 hits, and collected multiple hits in 18 of the 37 games he played in.
3. Individual On-Base Percentage; Kobe Kato (Big Train '19) - .612; Old record: James Vasquez (Braves - '12) - .552
You'll notice a common trend here: Kato etched his name all over the record books. There's not a lot more to say other than that he was an offensive sensation. He compiled 49 hits, 48 walks and seven hit by pitches to reach base a total of 104 times in 37 games.
4. Individual Walks Drawn in a Season; Kobe Kato (Big Train '19) - 48; Old record: Gerald Hall (Orioles - '08) - 36.
Kato enters yet another record into the books. His plate discipline simply seemed unmatched, as if he performed the umpire's job for him at times. It is worth note, additionally, that Gio Diaz also broke the previous record with his 40 walks drawn this season.
5. Stolen Base Percentage Record (min. 15 attempts); Drew Hamrock (Big Train '19) (16 for 16)
While Drew Hamrock (Virginia) is not alone in holding this record--he's tied with several others--the impressive element is how few games (16) he needed to grab those 16 bags. Having stolen seven bases in the first two games of the season, Hamrock went down for a month with a broken nose. If he had not been injured, he could have given Diaz a run for his money--pun intended.
6. Team Stolen Bases in a Season; 2019 Big Train - 152; Old record: 2016 Redbirds - 117
As a team, the Bethesda Big Train seemed like they had the green light every pitch. By the end of the year, the team's propensity to execute double steals, to steal third routinely, for second base to be a given after a walk--it all seemed too normalized. In addition to Diaz's individual record-breaking season, Kato, Darius Foster (San Francisco), Keith Torres (Sacramento State) and Hamrock all tallied at least 15 steals.
7. Team Walks Drawn by Batters in a Season; 2019 Big Train - 286; Old record: 2018 Big Train - 238
With Kato and Diaz combining for 88 walks, it should be no surprise that the team also set the record. If we had a stat for it, the team likely set the "runs walked home" record, as the team stayed patient even in big spots. But we don't. Still, the batters' eyes put on display this season saw batters taking free bases all too often.
8. Team On-Base Percentage; 2019 Big Train - .437; Old record: 2018 Big Train - .413
Owed largely to the walks the team drew, it always seemed like the Big Train had runners on base. Especially in the middle of the order, Big Train batters enjoyed hitting with runners in scoring position seemingly every other at-bat.
9. Team Runs Scored Per Game; 2019 Big Train - 8.24; Old record: 2018 Big Train - 8.15
With so many runners constantly filling the bases, the Big Train lit up the scoreboard all season. No lead ever seemed safe for opposing teams--all year. Big Train tallied double-digit runs in 13 out of 37 games this season.
10. Consecutive Win Streak; 2019 Big Train - 13
Ironically snapped in the final game of the regular season, the 2019 Big Train brought home yet another record: consecutive wins. For a period of 13 games stretching much of July, the team blasted through their opponents routinely.
Other Feats and Accolades
2 Combined No-hitters
Any time a team can throw a no-hitter, that's a significant accomplishment. But two no-hitters? Well, that's doubly impressive. Both no-hit games involved numerous pitchers, which goes to show the depth of the Bethesda pitching staff. Dalton Ponce (St. Mary's CA) and Jack Weeks (Georgetown) threw the first one, June 6 against Alexandria, and six pitchers, including Weeks, combined to no-hit Gaithersburg on June 15.
Gio Diaz's 26-game on-base streak
Diaz reached base in 26 consecutive games, an impressive feat given that the season only had 37 games. Diaz's streak lasted significantly longer than half of the season--or in other words, he was pretty much a lock to get on base each game. Kobe Kato carried a 20-game on-base streak into the playoffs and reached base in all five postseason games. This gave Big Train two different players with 25-game or better on-base streaks this summer.