Team Israel sprinted out of Pool A with a perfect record on the strength of an offense that scored 21 runs on 36 hits in three games, so it makes sense the Most Valuable Player of that pool would be an Israeli slugger.
The distinction went to catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who was voted Pool A MVP by members of the media on Thursday. Lavarnway batted .556 (5-for-9) with four walks while catching all three victories. He homered, drove in three runs and finished pool play with a .692 on base percentage and .889 slugging percentage.
Lavarnway had a big hit in Israel’s eighth-inning rally against Korea in the opener, and he also erased a crucial baserunner with a caught stealing later in the game. Israel shocked many when it defeated Korea, 2-1, in extra innings to begin an undefeated run that also included wins over the Netherlands and Chinese Taipei.
Currently signed to a Minor League deal with the Athletics, Lavarnway has played in parts of five seasons in the Majors, most recently in 2015 with the Braves. He’s hit .198 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs in 134 career big league games with the Red Sox, Orioles and Braves. Lavarnway grew up in California and starred for Yale University. His mother is Jewish, which made him eligible to participate for Team Israel.
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