Recap: The Threshers went 6-6 over the past two weeks, including losing the first two versus the division-leading Daytona Cubs this weekend. Clearwater is now 38-25 and sits six games behind Daytona in the FSL North as the first half winds down. The magic number for Daytona to eliminate Clearwater from the first half title chase is now two.
Slightly different format this week: as the daily box scores are posted and Gregg compiles his ‘Hot or Not’ lists that summarize weekly stats, I’m moving towards just throwing the stats up, then trying my hand at some commentary on topics that don’t bubble to the surface via these other posts. I’m starting this week with some declining walk rates among Clearwater hitters and a tip of the cap to the Threshers bullpen. Feel free to leave any yays or nays to this format in the comments. On to the numbers:
- Cesar Hernandez: 12-42 (.286), 2 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 9 K / 1 BB, 1 SB / 1 CS, 2 E
- Jiwan James: 12-43 (.279), 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 13 K / 2 BB, 3 SB / 0 CS, E
- Joe Savery: 5-32 (.156), 2B, 5 RBI, 2 K / 2 BB
- Jonathan Singleton: 10-40 (.250), 2 2B, 3 RBI, 9 K / 13 BB, 0 SB / 2 CS, E
- Leandro Castro: 11-45 (.244), 2 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 4 K / 0 BB, 3 SB / 0 CS, E
- Sebastian Valle: 15-29 (.517), 2 2B, 3B, 5 RBI, 5 K / 0 BB, E, 1 return to DL
- Jeremy Barnes: 13-47 (.277), 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 12 K / 3 BB, 0 SB / 1 CS
- Tyson Gillies: 2-13 (.154), 2 2B, 1 K / 0 BB
Commentary: The Threshers are mimicking the big league club in some ways, as they currently rank 3rd from the bottom in runs scored in the FSL, but are second in the league in wins, thanks in large part to a pitching staff that’s living up to the lofty expectations set before the season. So I wanted to try to figure out why Clearwater is struggling to score. My initial assumption was that this is a case of a bunch of young players moving into a tough pitchers league and the struggles were to be expected. Looking through FSL team statistics, you’ll find Clearwater in the middle of the pack in extra base hits, home runs, total bases, and slugging, and they’re near the top in batting average and fewest times striking out.
But the team is second from the bottom in OBP, which, when combined with their relatively high batting average, leads us to walks as the culprit. Clearwater is last in the FSL in walks, drawing under 2 ½ per game. After the 2010 Lakewood team walked at an 8.0% rate, the 2011 Threshers are walking at a 6.4% rate. Granted, the rosters are not a one-for-one match, but the bulk of the plate appearances are coming from the same guys. Looking at the top ten players on the roster (in terms of plate appearances), you’ll see that walk rates have generally regressed.
As you can see, walk rates have declined across the board, save for Savery (whose pre-2011 consists of very limited PAs), Ruf, and Singleton. While Cesar Hernandez’ drop can be expected given the double-jump, Valle’s is perplexing. He’s walked just twice in 160 PAs. It really defies all logic that he would be having a breakout season (at least in terms of batting average) while drawing so few walks.
I included K rates here as well (since I was already compiling the stats) and a few things are apparent here. Again, Hernandez’ rate is somewhat excusable given the jump. James’ walk rate has dropped 14% this year while his K rate has increased 20%–both big numbers in the opposite (and wrong) directions. Singleton’s striking out 68% more frequently, but he has also managed to nudge his walk rate higher. Perhaps most noteworthy is that Leandro Castro, with his reputation as a free swinger, is the only guy among the true prospects who has managed to lower his K rate in Clearwater. Granted, his walk rate has plummeted as well, but for a guy who does a lot of things well (albeit without one standout tool), a sub-15% K rate could be the difference between the majors and a million-plus points in the Allentown Quality Inn Choice Privileges Program.
- Brody Colvin: 12 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 0 HR, 11 K / 4 BB
- Ebelin Lugo: 4.2 IP, 12 H, 7 ER, HR, 3 K / 0 BB
- Jarred Cosart: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, HR, 4 K / 4 BB, 1 missed start (blister)
- Jonathan Pettibone: 15 IP, 24 H, 9 ER, HR, 11 K / 6 BB
- Julio Rodriguez: 12 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, HR, 10 K / 6 BB
- Trevor May: 18 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 20 K / 7 BB
- Eric Pettis: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 HR, 7 K / 0 BB
Commentary: Clearwater’s team ERA leads the FSL and is a half-run better than the second best team. Obviously, a lot of this is being fueled by the heralded rotation which, save for Brody Colvin’s injury, is meeting or exceeding pre-season expectations. The starters (including Tyler Cloyd) have gone 27-16, with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. On the rate states, those six starters have combined to allow 7.2 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 3.2 BB/9, and have struck out 8.3 K/9.
But the unheralded bullpen also deserves a tip of the cap. Heading into Sunday, the bullpen has actually compiled a better ERA than the star-studded rotation (2.59). The pen has also allowed fewer than 8 hits per 9 IP, has a nearly identical WHIP (1.16), and is striking out 7.9 hitters per 9 IP versus 2.7 walks, resulting in a K/BB ratio which is better than that of the starters (3.0 vs. 2.6). So in an effort to give kudos to some guys whose names don’t get mentioned here too often, some highlights from the Threshers standout bullpen:
- Ebelin Lugo: 7.3 K/B. Been victimized a bit by the longball this year.
- Derrick Loop: 0.92 ERA, 5.8 H/9, 6 holds
- Justin Friend: 0.98 ERA, 5.2 H/9, 4.5 K/BB, 19 saves, FSL All-Star
- Eric Pettis: 0.92 ERA, 5.9 H/9, 9.0 K/BB, 0.76 WHIP
- Joe Esposito: 2.37 ERA, 7.1 H/9, 3 holds