After two successive division-winning teams in 2011 and 2012, the 2013 edition of the Auburn Doubledays hit rock bottom in 2013 with a league-worst 26-49 mark. Of course, to expect that kind of success year in and year out is foolish. But it’s also difficult as a fan to not be disappointed with a last-place finish.
Almost implicit in reviewing a cellar dweller is the hope (mission) of finding something (anything) positive amid the negative (and there was a lot). The trick is do it without looking specious, which seems to be okay in public relations.
Thanks to a small but noticeable shift towards drafting collegiate juniors and junior college players, along with some sizable movement to/from the GCL with pitchers, this edition wasn’t oldest in the league as they were a year ago (or second oldest, as they were in 2011). We can only hope that this trend (the drafting part) continues because, well, I’ve been advocating it in the past two season reviews.
Continuing with the format, gird yourself for the look at how Auburn compared to the rest of the N.Y. Penn League…
* GPA = Gross Production Average
The 2013 Auburn pitchers were (slightly) better than their 2012 counterparts. But as you might have already guessed, they were the NYPL trailers in virtually every statistical category but two rather important ones: HRs allowed and strikeouts. They were also a study in extremes — one SP had an ERA near 1.00, another more than 9.00. As a staff, they were bad, but there were some really standout individual performances, which will be discussed below.
The 2013 Auburn batters weren’t the worst in the league, but finished above 10th in just two categories — striking out (4th fewest) and getting hit by pitches (4th most). Kind of brings new meaning to contact hitter, no? Unfortunately, once you factor out the 23-y.o. players, it gets very difficult to find very much positive about this group.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the Top 12 hitters in terms of usage. Full statistics for the team can be found here.
(# = 2012 Draft Pick or NDFA ** = DSL Graduate)
|Name||Age||PA||Position(s)||G @ Pos||Fld%||Err||GPA||ISO|
|Jean Carlos Valdez**||20||191||3B/1B||15/9||.978||3||.224||.123|
As aforementioned, just two of these 12 were above the league average for GPA — and both guys (Isaac Ballou, Bryan Lippincott) were 23, which is old for the NYPL no matter how you slice it, dice it, or spice it. It gets a little better when you’re looking for raw power: the Dominican duo of Wilmer Difo and Diomedes Eusebio both showed above-average isolated power, which is not really that big of a surprise as one or both have been “watchlisters” since the beginning.
Defensively, the team was league-average, but a lot of that was dragged down by the team’s left-side infielders, who committed 41 of the team’s 88 errors. First baseman James Yezzo posted a below-average range factor but made just four errors, which is good because as previously reported, he’s a 1B-only project. Missing the cut in terms of usage (89PA), Matt Reistetter gets a mention here as he put up strong numbers defensively (.988FA, 8-for-16, CS-SB) and respectable offensive numbers (.254/.337/.354) — not bad for a NDFA that didn’t start playing until July 24.
On to the pitchers, the Top 12 listed in terms of innings pitched…
|R.C. Orlan#||22||13/11||1-5, 0||3.65||56⅔||54||22||47||1.341||2||4||2|
|L.J. Hollins#||21||23/0||1-4, 6||2.84||44⅓||45||14||35||1.331||0||4||3|
|Jake Johansen||22||10/10||1-1, 0||1.06||42⅓||22||18||44||0.945||1||1||5|
|Casey Selsor#||23||14/7||0-6, 0||4.29||42||56||14||30||1.667||1||1||2|
|Joel Barrientos**||19||11/8||1-5, 0||7.08||40⅔||54||27||24||1.992||6||6||0|
|Ryan Ullmann||21||8/6||2-2, 0||5.30||37⅓||52||10||23||1.241||4||2||0|
|Silvio Medina**||23||19/0||1-3, 0||4.08||35⅓||33||25||48||1.642||2||5||8|
|Austin Voth||21||7/7||2-0, 0||1.47||30⅔||21||4||42||0.815||0||1||2|
|Jake Joyce||21||20/0||1-3, 2||5.04||30⅓||37||12||27||1.615||0||3||3|
|Mike Mudron#||23||19/0||1-3, 0||6.82||30⅓||43||15||32||1.912||0||2||9|
|Deion Williams||20||8/8||0-6, 0||9.42||28⅔||40||17||23||1.988||1||5||2||John Simms||21||11/2||0-3, 1||5.79||28||41||7||31||1.714||0||6||2|
It’s not difficult to see the aforementioned standouts (I think Stevie Wonder could) when you look over this dozen. Jake Johansen and Austin Voth had ERAs that began with “1” and WHIPs that began with 0.” As the “top pick in the 2013 Draft,” Johansen gets the press, but Voth had superior peripherals — 12.3 K/9 vs. 9.4, 1.2 BB/9 vs. 3.8, 0.95 FIP vs. 2.77. This, of course, it not to diminish the big Texan but to shine a light on the underrated U-Dub product.
A healthy R.C. Orlan led the staff in innings pitched, followed by L.J. Hollins. While both were 2012 picks, it was the first year in Auburn for them as Orlan missed all of last season with TJ surgery and Hollins was leapfrogged from the GCL to Hagerstown in July 2012 and dropped down after making a single appearance for the Suns in late May 2013. While not outstanding in the traditonal sense, both were better than league average and helped offset some of the woeful pitching that’s also pretty easy to spot.
Finally, two notables that missed the cut: the sole Auburn All-Star David Napoli, who posted a line of 1.14/2.48/1.099 in 23⅔ innings, and 20-y.o. Nick Pivetta, who went 3.38/3.90/1.406 in 21⅓ innings.
OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
It was tempting to cut down to a Top 4 or combine arms and bats into a single list (all things I’ve done before and will probably do again), but I’ll stick with the format and note that inclusion here may not necessarily mean 2014 Watchlist status, sample sizes are small, your mileage may vary, etc.
Top 5 Batters
1. Isaac Ballou
2. Bryan Lippincott
3. Jean Carlos Valdez
4. Wilmer Difo
5. Greg Zebrack
HM: Matt Reistetter
Top 5 Pitchers
1. Austin Voth
2. Jake Johansen
3. R.C. Orlan
4. L.J. Hollins
5. John Simms*
HM: Nick Pivetta
* I made a choice like this in 2011 with Christian Meza based on a similar disconnect between ERA (5.79) and FIP (2.38) as well as strong perhiperals (2.25 BB/9, 9.96 K/9) and an unusually high BABIP of .438. Robert Benincasa had a similar mark last year (.409) which normalized this year to roughly .313.