Season Review: 2012 Auburn Doubledays

For the second straight season, the Auburn Doubledays won the Pinckney Division and racked up a .600+ winning percentage. Alas, for the second straight season they fell short of the league championship, losing in the Divisional round this year instead of the Finals last year, two games to one.

As the year prior, the lion’s share of the Doubledays roster was 2012 draftees — seven of the top 12 batters in terms of PAs, five of the top 12 pitchers in terms of IPs. This, of course, is a product of the Washington focus on drafting collegiate players (26 of 40) in general and seniors in particular (16 of 24 signees). Not to, um, beat a dead horse, but my stance from last year that the Nats should consider drafting more HS players in light of the large number of 22-24-y.o.’s in the system remains the same.

That the parent club is now in a window of opportunity that has come sooner than most reasonable people would have expected (most of the “Natmosphere” pegged them winning about 85-87 games) solidifies that opinion. In other words, the organizatiom can afford to spend more time developing a hidden gem rather than playing it safe and hoping that a collegiate player can be pushed from a serviceable backup to an everyday player.

Continuing with our format, let’s examine how Auburn compared to the rest of the N.Y. Penn League…


Like last season, the 2012 Auburn Doubledays could hit, leading the league in runs scored, hits, and batting average and were second in on-base percentage and slugging. They weren’t quite as proficient in stealing bases in terms of quantity, but were successful nearly 79% of the time, a slight dip from last year’s insane rate of 85.5 percent.

On the flip side, however, the pitching needed all that offense because it wasn’t up to snuff: 10th in runs allowed and hit batsman, 13th in ERA and home runs allowed, 14th in hits allowed. There are a couple of caveats worth noting. Just two starting pitchers were below league-average in terms of ERA, though it should be noted that a couple pitchers had huge ERA-FIP differentials, which is not uncommon in short-season ball, and roughly a half-dozen pitchers had better than a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

I’m listing the Top 13* hitters and pitchers in terms of plate appearances and innings pitched and using defensive games played for the listing of position. The full statistics for the team can be found here.
(# = 2011 Draft Pick   ** = DSL Graduate)   *One extra because the #13 guy on both lists is worth noting

There is really little to complain about when it came to the offense — 10 of these 13 were above league average in GPA (link for those unfamiliar) and seven had isolated power rates (likewise) above the norm. Yes, you can write off some of this in the aggregate to age, but this was true last year and that carried over to Hagerstown this year (as predicted).

Defensively, the team was middle-of-the pack with one rather notable exception: catchers. Kieboom and Manuel (along with third-stringer Andruth Ramirez) combined to throw out 45% of the runners that attempted to steal against them and allowed a league-low 38 in 76 games, which is phenomenal when you consider how many opportunities teams had to run against them. Plus, the trio committed just six errors (four by Ramirez) for an aggregate fielding percentage of .991.

It’s not all sunny though, as we move along to the pitchers…

To be sure, there are some bright spots to be found here. Robert Benincasa’s outstanding walk and strikeout rates (1.2 BB/9and 12.3 K/9 for a ratio of 10.67 to 1) Derek Self’s 2.50 FIP, Nick Lee and Blake Monar’s HR rates (0.29 and 0.16 respectively). But you can also see a some high walk totals and as aforementioned, the team gave up the second-most HRs in the league. There are also quite a few innings there thrown by middle-relief/swingmen that had ERAs close to 5.00 (121⅓ between Medina, Waterman and Fischer, which sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?).
For the third straight year, I was able to make it to an Auburn contest, albeit a single game in Aberdeen. Still, this mostly sight-unseen, like the GCL and DSL and prone to the same problems that lead to the same misjudgments in rankings. For example, I put Bryce Ortega ahead of Matt Skole last year and didn’t rank Nathan Karns as a Top 5 for Auburn (though in my defense, Karns had a WHIP of 1.473 over eight starts after blowing through the GCL). So I expect to be wrong on a couple of these, too (hence the honorable mentions, natch).

Top 5 Batters
1. Estarlin Martinez
2. Wander Ramos
3. Brandon Miller
4. Shawn Pleffner
5. Mike McQuillan
HMs: Spencer Kieboom, Narciso Mesa

Top 5 Pitchers
1. Nick Lee
2. Robert Benincasa
3. Derek Self
4. Brett Mooneyham
5. Pedro Encarnacion
HMs: Ivan Pineyro, Cody Davis

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

10 thoughts on “Season Review: 2012 Auburn Doubledays”

  1. In 2012 the new CMA limited the total bonus amount that the Nats could spend on draftees. Given their intention to concentrate the available cash to signing Giolitto, they wouldn’t want to draft a player who had the option of entering or re-entering college. Your point on drafting “diamonds in the rough” is well taken, but I suspect that a Mike Trout would have too much leverage to accept the bonus that was available to the Nats. I know that the Nats have their own rating system that they rigorously employ to take the best player available. Could it be that, in each of their selections, the best player available, taking signability under the CMA into account, was a college senior rather than a high school kid? Your thoughts?

    1. A Mike Trout is anything but a diamond in the rough — I’m referring to taking some chances on HSers and JuCo’s in the middle rounds (e.g. 11-20) where you might get an Ian Desmond.

      There’s been a lot talk about how the 2011 CBA would drive more HSers to college, but I’ve yet to see anything more than anecdotal analyzing the actual effects the new CBA has had. For example, nobody predicted that teams would use rounds 4-10 this year to scoop up “signable” college seniors and then take chances with the savings starting in the 11th round (link will explain the loophole that teams found).

      The draft is way out of my wheelhouse, but common sense dictates that a 22-year-old is going to have to shock a lot of people to crack the DC lineup in the 2014-2017 timeframe, especially when the team is picking in the low-to-mid-20s of each round. You don’t, of course, stop drafting and developing talent — guys get hurt, they unexpectedly decline, you may need prospects for a trade (*ahem*) — but I believe the organization can now more easily afford to wait five years for a draftee to develop.

      Again, I know that’s a hell of a lot easier said than done and I’ll repeat: The draft is not my forté (probably around a two-té).

  2. Batters:
    -Pleffner should be higher (.329 avg, 394 OB% – more than 1-3 in those categories)
    -Renda over McQuillan for the 5 spot

    -Cody Davis and Travis Henke over Derek Self and Robert Benincasa
    -Monar over Encarnacion

      1. It is difficult to rank any if you have only seen the batters hit a handful of times and have never seen the majority of the pitchers. As someone who watched more Auburn games than you did, I just think your assessment is off. I think if you watched more games, you would agree with me.

        1. Agreed. Note the “Obligatory” — I’m not keen on doing Top XX lists because I hate the bickering over why Prospect A is listed higher than Prospect B, but I also realize that I can’t ignore what the people want entirely.

  3. For starting pitchers I’d put both Monar and Mooneyham over Lee. Monar had too many walks but I read that many came bc he was pitching with a cut/blister for many games before eventually going on the DL at the end of the season. Plus, if you include Lee’s HBP, he gave up too many free passes as well. I give Mooneyham the nod bc of stature. 6’5″ over 5’11”. His K/9 was disappointing to me, but he got people out quckly and finished with a very good ERA. Don’t get me wrong though, I liked watching Lee as well. He has a great strikeout pitch but for LH starters I’d pitch Lee in game 3.

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