Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The 2006 Muckdogs rode strong pitching to a respectable finish in the New York-Penn League, finishing 35-38 (.479), six and a half games out of first place. The Muckdogs had the best ERA in the New York-Penn (NYPL) League, along with the second-best WHIP and the third fewest walks allowed.
Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
WHIP – Walks plus hits by innings pitched: (BB + H) / IP = WHIP
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA
FIP – Fielding Independent Pitching: (13*HR+3*BB-2*K / IP) + League Factor Evaluates a pitching by how he would have done with an average defense behind him by keeping track of things that a pitcher can control (walks, strikeouts, home runs allowed) as opposed to things he cannot (hits allowed, runs allowed).
HR/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings: (HR * 9) / IP
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings: (K * 9) / IP
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings: (BB * 9) / IP
...and for the batters...
Gross Productive Average (GPA): (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA. Invented by The Hardball Times Aaron Gleeman, GPA measures a players production by weighing his ability to get on base and hit with power. This is my preferred all-around stat.
Isolated Power (ISO): .SLG - .BA = .ISO. Measures a player’s raw power by subtracting singles from their slugging percentage.
On-Base Percentage (OBP): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)
Slugging Percentage (SLG): Total Bases / At-Bats = Slugging Percentage. Power at the plate.
Being that the Muckdogs were a more advanced level of baseball, most of the Phillies 2006 draft picks that played college ball were sent to Batavia while the high schoolers like first rounders Adrian Cardenas and Kyle Drabek were sent to the Gulf Coast League (GCL). E.g., third-round pick Jason Donald, fifth-round pick Quintin Berry, sixth-round pick Daniel Brauer, seventh-round pick Charlie Yarbrough, ninth-round pick Andrew Cruse, tenth-round pick Samuel Walls, etc. You get the idea. All of those guys played college ball and got to bypass the GCL.
The only exception was Andrew Carpenter, the Phillies third overall pick in the draft, who hurled for the Muckdogs and was partly responsible for the excellent showing they had. According to J.P. Schwartz and Top Prospect Alert, Carpenter will be the Phillies eighth-best prospect in 2007. Carpenter threw just three innings in the CGL before being elevated and hurling another eleven and two-thirds for the Muckdogs. Taken as a whole, Carpenter got off to a good start in ’06, allowing just one earned run and getting sixteen strikeouts to five walks. . I expect Carpenter to be in either Williamsport or Lakewood in 2007, gaining more experience.
After Carpenter was Edgar Garcia, a free agent the Phillies signed in November of 2004, and currently ranks as Baseball America's fourth-best Phillies prospect. Garcia was just 3-5 in 2006, but his 2.98 ERA (3.52 FIP) was very good and he displayed a lot of impressive skills, including a reluctance to surrender walks (1.36 BB/9), and an ability to get strikeouts (6.24 K/9). Garcia is a good bet to advance to Lakewood and play with the Blue Claws in 2007.
The Phillies strongest pitchers, after Carpenter and Garcia, were Brauer and Cruse, 2006 draft picks. They helped lead the Muckdogs to a league-best 2.86 ERA:
1. Batavia: 2.86
2. Brooklyn: 2.96
3. Tri-City: 3.03
4. Aberdeen: 3.08
5. Auburn: 3.12
When I tabulated the numbers and figured out what each team’s FIP was, the numbers changed a little:
1. Hudson Valley: 3.01
2. Oneonta: 3.11
3. Batavia: 3.17
4. Brooklyn: 3.20
5. Staten Island: 3.27
To give you an idea about what a big jump Hudson Valley made (and how bad their defense must have been in 2006), Hudson Valley ranked tenth of fourteen teams in ERA and first in FIP. Hudson Valley also tied Batavia for the best WHIP in the NYPL. Oneonta went from sixth to second.
The Muckdogs strength was that they were the third-most stingy team to get a walk from, while being fairly average everywhere else. Here is how the Muckdogs did vs. the league averages:
NYPL / Muckdogs
ERA: 2.86 / 3.34
HR/9: 0.39 / 0.37
BB/9: 2.71 / 3.01
K/9: 7.96 / 7.53
K/BB: 2.93 / 2.50
A little worse on the home runs, a little better on the strikeouts and substantially better on the walks.
Here is how the Muckdogs rotation looked:
Brauer, a sixth-round pick from Northwestern, did particularly well with the Muckdogs:
I don’t really think that Brauer was particularly heralded as being an exceptional talent, but the stats seem to suggest that he’s got a bright, bright future ahead of him. Right behind him was Andrew Cruse, a University of South Carolina (fake U.S.C.) graduate:
The team’s workhorse, Alexander Concepcion, an amateur free agent signed back in ’03, hurled 83 & 2/3 innings, splitting twelve decisions:
Certainly I think Concepcion’s strikeout/walk ratio is beyond impressive. It’s out of sight. This is a player with real control to his pitches and seems to have a promising future. If he could lower his home runs allowed, he’d be a lock to make the Phillies in 2009 or 2010. The Muckdogs rotation seemed to play well in 2006, so I’d expect to hear from at least a few of these players in the future.
Offensively, the less said about the Muckdogs, the better. The Muckdogs finished tenth in the NYPL in runs scored, a product of being eleventh in the league in On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage. You won’t win many games that way. In a troubling development, as I noted yesterday in my post on the GCL Phillies, the Muckdogs were second in the NYPL in stolen bases, perhaps portending a trend towards small ball in the Phillies organization. Minor leaguers aren’t typically big power sluggers down in Single-A, but the Muckdogs 19 home runs in 73 games is a surprise. They ranked – you guessed it – eleventh in ISO as well at .083, just a few ticks better than Vermont’s .078, worst in the league.
The Muckdogs best offensive player was, without question, Jason Donald, a shortstop from the University of Arizona and the Phillies third-round selection (97th overall), got to skip rookie league GCL and join the Muckdogs. Donald impressed, with a .347 OBP and twelve steals in thirteen attempts. He was the Phillies fourth overall selection.
There was quite a lot of speed on the Muckdogs roster. In addition to Donald, the Muckdogs also saw Zachary Penpraise, a thirteenth-round pick and fellow shortstop, swipe 19 of 25 attempts, and Quintin Berry, an outfielder from San Diego State University, swipe 19 of 23. As a team, the Muckdogs ran 113 times in 73 game and were successful 75% of the time. I guess we shall see if this portends a trend towards small ball.
Tomorrow we shall discuss the Lakewood Blue Claws, the Phillies most successful minor league team.