In the upper minors, there is no half system, which makes the 2010 Harrisburg Senators playoff run even more impressive. At the halfway mark, their record stood at 34-37, more than a dozen games back and in fourth place. Down the stretch, they would go 43-28 and shave that lead to five games to earn the Eastern League’s Western Division wild card, beating out Bowie and Akron by a game and two games respectively.
The Senators would lose to the eventual Eastern League champions, the Altoona Curve — a team that featured several players with playoff experience in winning the 2009 Carolina League championship with the Lynchburg Hillcats. Like Potomac, this team gelled at just the right time, and got some significant help with the addition of two starters — Ryan Tatusko and Tanner — that would become known as “The Guz Two” because they were acquired from Texas in the Christian Guzman trade.
You know the drill: Let’s look at how the Senators compared to the Eastern League…
Italics = League Trailer
Bold = League Leader
As we just saw from our most recent World Champions, great pitching can carry mediocre-to-poor hitting and the Senators were no different. Offensively, the Sens were in the bottom third of the league for runs scored, hits, doubles, RBI, SBs, walks, OBP, and SLG percentage. They were middle of the pack for HRs and triples, and surprisingly for a team that was dead-last in BBs, they stuck out the third-fewest.
What this team could do well, however, was pitch. They managed to lead the league in ERA despite their #2 pitcher (in terms of IP, of course) sporting a 5.80 ERA. Seven of the Top 16 pitchers had ERAs below 3.00. As you can see from the bolded categories, they led the league in some of the most important ones: runs allowed, earned runs allowed, and ratio, and were second in baserunners allowed (WHIP) and walks, and third in strikeouts. In fact, we almost had a microcosm of Harrisburg vs. the Eastern League on the same staff, with Jeff Mandel as the former and Jason Jones as the latter.
In terms of batters, the stalwarts of the 2009 Potomac Nationals — Chris Marrero, Danny Espinosa and Jesus Valdez — were the top three batters in terms of plate appearances, runs, and RBIs. But beyond that it was the usual mix of formers, might-haves, were-it-nots (whatever euphemism you’d prefer for the “other guys” on the team) that were complementary parts, of which the best can be said is that they played league-average defense, with the exception of the catchers, who led the league in baserunners caught and worked with the pitchers to tie for the fewest stolen bases allowed.
As in previous season reviews, let’s look at the Top 16 (in terms of Plate Appearances or Innings Pitched) which puts the cutoff at 100PA and 32⅓ IP. The full team statistics can be found here.
|Name||Age||Position(s)||G @ Pos||Fld%||Err||PA||GPA|
Believe it or not, the average age of the batters (24.7) wasn’t that far off from the league average (24.3) nor were they the oldest in the league. With three 22-year-olds (Norris, Lombardozzi, and Burgess) expected to begin the season in 2011, that number may trend downward unless more than one of them gets the bump to Syracuse. Just six of these sixteen were above the league-average for GPA, as you’d expect for team as a whole being in the bottom third of the league. But the good news was the pitching…
|Aaron Thompson||23||26/26||4-13, 0||5.80||136⅔||164||53||95||1.588||5||5|
|Andrew Kown||27||15/15||6-4, 0||3.83||84⅔||83||19||47||1.205||3||1|
|Hassan Pena||25||48/0||2-2, 1||4.29||71⅓||73||30||64||1.444||6||8|
|Rafael Martin||26||21/14||5-4, 0||3.61||67⅓||55||26||58||1.203||1||6|
|Cole Kimball||24||38/10||5-1, 12||2.33||54||33||31||75||1.185||5||13|
|Jack Spradlin||25||39/1||1-1, 1||4.09||50⅔||51||18||49||1.362||4||2|
|Adam Carr||26||36/0||6-1, 5||3.04||50⅓||43||14||48||1.132||1||3|
|Chuck James||28||21/2||8-0, 2||1.59||45⅓||28||7||50||0.772||6||3|
|Erik Arnesen||26||13/5||2-2, 2||2.81||41⅔||36||7||35||1.032||1||1|
|John Lannan||25||7/7||1-4, 0||4.20||40⅔||49||10||28||1.451||4||0|
|Jeff Mandel||25||7/7||1-4, 0||3.82||40||37||13||27||1.250||2||1|
|Brad Peacock||22||7/7||2-2, 0||4.66||38⅔||33||22||30||1.422||0||0|
|Ryan Tatusko||25||6/6||3-1, 0||1.72||36⅔||30||13||36||1.173||1||1|
|Tanner Roark||23||6/6||1-1, 0||2.50||36||35||9||33||1.222||0||0|
|Ross Detwiler||24||7/7||2-2, 0||2.48||32⅔||38||7||31||1.378||2||1|
There’s not much that I haven’t said already about the top dog on the pitching staff, Tom Milone. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how Sickels, BA, and the scouts at MLBA rate him this time around, now that he’s put up the numbers at the level that commands attention outside the prospect universe. Aaron Thompson was his counterweight in terms of affecting the team’s numbers as a group, and is likely to repeat this level in ’11, along with Brad Peacock and Tanner Roark.
Ryan Tatusko is the best candidate to join Milone at Syracuse next season, but beyond that is guessing game. Given the modern usage of AAA as a taxi squad, much will depend on the FAs that get signed between now and this spring. As mentioned in the comments, we’re still not at the point where the AA team has more prospects than organizational guys. While that will improve next year with the influx from Potomac, I expect to look over the ’11 Opening Day Roster and see a fair number of ’84s and ’85s in the DOB column.
Obviously, there’s some overlap with Potomac and some AFL bias in these lists. And like last week, naming a fifth bat is perfunctory. Johnson gets the nod because he’s versatile and handles the bat well. It’s no secret that next week will be even more of a, um, crapshoot when it comes to this part of the review.
OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
1. Danny Espinosa
2. Chris Marrero
3. Steve Lombardozzi
4. Michael Burgess
5. Josh Johnson
1. Tom Milone
2. Cole Kimball
3. Brad Peacock
4. Adam Carr
5. Tanner Roark