Thursday night at their home park, Veterans Field, the Chatham Anglers broke a three game losing streak by beating the Falmouth Commodores 5-0. The game, number 23 on the season, marked the start of the Cape Cod Baseball League second half. The win also moves the team into a tie for third place in the Eastern Division with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. The win was capped off with a two-run homer by catcher Andrew Knapp in the fifth inning, the latest in what is proving to be an impressive season.
Knapp, a switch-hitting sophomore out of the University of California, Berkeley, has proven surprising in many ways. Catchers don’t normally have his durability-he’s played in 22 of the Anglers’ 23 games so far, more than anyone else on the roster. And for good reason; he’s the best hitter on the team. After Thursday night’s game in Falmouth, which saw him go 2-3 with the aforementioned home run, a single, and a walk, Knapp moved into the team lead in batting average by improving to .300. He also increased his team lead in home runs (last night marked his fourth of the season; only two of his teammates have more than one), and took over the lead in on-base percentage (.418) and slugging percentage (.500).
Last night’s 2 for 3 performance continues a recent hot streak for Knapp; four of his last six games have been multi-hit efforts. In that time, he’s hit .455/.556/.727 with 2 homers and 5 RBI. To give just another sense of just how impressive his season has been, number 38 has a 147 OPS+; in addition to playing the hardest position on the diamond and switch-hitting, Knapp is also hitting at about 50% better than the rest of the league, not even accounting for the fact that he plays a majority of his games in a pitchers park.
Andrew hails from Sacramento, California, and, as mentioned, studies and plays at UC Berkley. He chose it not only for it’s great educational and baseball programs, but also because of family; specifically, his dad and grandfather also attended. As a function of the school’s great baseball program, he has come up against several of his teammates here in the Cape Cod League, experiences which he says have been fun (although he admits that the smack talk associated with said meetings is “not his style”).
As a native of Northern California, Knapp is a Giants fan, and looks up their current catcher (and former Cape League standout) Buster Posey. However, he says Josh Hamilton is his favorite player in the game today. His Giants fandom is made even more interesting by his draft history-Andrew was taken by the Oakland Athletics in the 41st round two years ago. Although they were technically a rival team, he still found the experience exciting.
Following his freshman year, Andrew played in the Northwoods League, but admits he found the league a bit of a grind. This summer in the Cape has proven a stark contrast-he’s enjoyed the total experience so far. In his spare time, he enjoys visiting Lighthouse Beach in Chatham near his hosts’ house. He especially seems to have taken warmly to the league’s use of wooden bats, although he claims to have “grown up” using wood, so there was less of a transition. If nothing else, his preference for the more traditional bats seems to be showing through so far in his numbers; it’s difficult to find Knapp’s combination of great bat at an up-the-middle position like catcher. Chatham is all the better for it, though, as they try and move up in the standings here at the start of the second half.