Wisler by the Numbers, Top Spot, A Lesson from Joey Votto

To interpret James Needy’s nine-inning performance at Parkview Field on Wednesday night solely through a baseball lens of the term “complete game” would not do it justice. He became the first TinCaps pitcher to ever throw all nine innings in a game. The last time it happened, neither the TinCaps nor Parkview Field existed. Stephen Faris of the Fort Wayne Wizards twirled a one-hit, nine-inning shutout against the Clinton LumberKings on July 17, 2007 at Memorial Stadium. So, yes, he completed all nine innings.

But he also gave the team the complete performance that it needed. He gave up just four hits. He allowed the bullpen a day of rest. He impressed not just his manager and his pitching coach, but everyone in attendance last night. It was undoubtedly the best start of the year by a TinCaps pitcher. And with all that–the TinCaps lost, 1-0. I think TinCaps President Mike Nutter said it best last night:

It really did feel like a big league playoff atmosphere. Great crowd, playoff implications, fantastic pitching. It was all there. West Michigan got the game’s only run because of an error committed by TinCaps shortstop Jace Peterson in the second inning. He overthrew Travis Whitmore on a routine ground ball, and the Whitecaps’ Lance Durham came home to score from second base. Needy gave the TinCaps what they needed, but they couldn’t return the favor, picking up just three hits.

Five games remain in the regular season. Fort Wayne leads West Michigan by one game for the wild card spot here in the second half. A loss today brings the TinCaps into a tie with the Whitecaps. A win, and they stave off West Michigan for another day.

Matt Wisler is scheduled to start for the TinCaps tonight. He’s put together one heck of a season. For comparison, here’s what his numbers look like compared to the last two Midwest League Post-Season All-Stars at his position, Kane County’s Greg Billo (2011) and Fort Wayne’s Adys Portillo (2012):

Wisler (19 years old): 5-4 in 23G/22GS, 2.45 ERA, 28BB, 108K, 1.02 WHIP, .212 BAA

Billo (21 years old last year in MWL): 9-5 in 27G/18GS, 135.0IP,  1.93 ERA, 25BB, 119K, 1.02 WHIP, .228 BAA

Portillo (20 years old): 6-6 in 18G/18GS, 91 2/3 IP, 1.87 ERA, 45BB, 81K, 1.08 WHIP, .169 BAA

As the youngest of the three, he compares very favorably. The question tonight for the TinCaps remains: Can they provide Wisler with the run support to pick up a win? The team has averaged four runs per game during his starts this season and he’s given up an average of 1.7. I don’t know much math, but I like those numbers.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear thoughts from TinCaps Manager Jose Valentin from last night’s game:

TOP SPOT

Stadium Journey, the website that reviews sporting venues in nearly every league known to man, has ranked Parkview Field as the #1 park in all of Minor League Baseball.

The review, found here, lists many of the great things about coming to see a game: a great family environment, affordable prices, and abundant food options, among other things. But here’s perhaps the best part:

Finally, there’s that intangible that the best parks have. You don’t know what it is that makes you so happy to be at this ballpark. Yes, it is all of the things mentioned above, but there’s something more. You’re a happier and better person somehow after going to a TinCaps game at Parkview Field. That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s not. You will leave wanting to come back again, and really that’s the test of any great sports venue.

Couldn’t agree more.

TAKE A LISTEN

2010 National League MVP Joey Votto recently played with the Dayton Dragons as part of a rehab assignment as he tries to heal an injured knee. He did an interview with the voice of the Dragons, Tom Nichols, and I think there was an interesting point that Votto, who is one of the top players in the game, made that can apply to the players in the Midwest League. He said that he tries to never stop learning.

“I’ve always had the goal of being one of the best, if not the best, player in baseball. You can’t get to that point without making some sacrifices and trying to test your limits. I’ve been lucky I’ve competed against some of the best players I’ve ever seen in my life. Probably the best example is Albert Pujols. I’d be a real fool if I didn’t try and pick his brain. I have in the past and if he’ll let me I will again in the future. I hope that a lot of the other guys that I view as potentially being some of the best players take those steps, too, because I know it helped me quite a bit.”

Here’s Joey Votto, who is if not the best, one of the best first baseman in the league, and he’s speaking in awe of Albert Pujols. It’d be very easy to get to Votto’s level and be perfectly content with where you are. The way he talks about his approach to the game, it’s as if he is constantly trying to gain new information and a new perspective, which is certainly respectable.

It’s a great point for current Midwest League players because they’re still several years from the major leagues. Votto is already established at that level, and this is how he works at his craft. Jose Valentin has preached to his players time and time again this year to constantly be watching how other players go about their business. Hitting coach Jacque Jones has asked players on this team to watch hitters similar to themselves to see how they can get better. It’s a great point by Votto.

Here is the full interview with Votto:

EMPOWERED OR OVERLOADED?

Now that we can get just about any piece of information any time we want (when was the last time something came up in conversation that someone didn’t know the answer to and it wasn’t immediately Googled?), it’s easy to feel like there’s just too much going on around you. Some might say it’s too much, others too little, and some might say it’s just right. Ah, right, the Three Bears….anyway, there was a study done by a professor at Northwestern University (Go Syracuse!) to determine whether people felt overwhelmed with the amount of information available:

Most of the participants said television was their most used form of media, followed closely by websites. When asked how they felt about the amount of information available to them, few mentioned feeling overwhelmed or that they suffered from “information overload.” Here are highlights of the responses: 

  • Participants had near-unanimous enthusiasm about the new media environment
  • Online news was regarded more positively than TV news
  • Cable news was often criticized for its sensationalism and stream of repetitive stories
  • Trivial social media posts and opinionated political pundits are top sources of frustration when seeking information 

The few participants who did feel overwhelmed were often those with low Internet skills, who haven’t yet mastered social media filters and navigating search engine results.

The thing that I couldn’t find, and would be interested to know, is what the age range of this survey was. It certainly sounds like it skewed younger. Either way it’s an interesting result.

MUSICAL GUEST

Styx…take it away!

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

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