September 2012

Just How They Drew It Up

The TinCaps finish the regular season today with an 11 AM (local time) doubleheader here in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Just the way they drew it up…ok, maybe not. After the trip the team will hop back on the bus and ride the six hours back to Parkview Field.

Although Tuesday is an “off” day, the team will still have a workout that day, so as to keep in good rhythm for the playoffs, which begin Wednesday. Based on how pitching rotations line up for Fort Wayne and Lansing, its first round opponent, here’s what we could see as the matchups:

Game 1–Wednesday, September 5th at Parkview Field: RHP James Needy vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard

Game 2 –Thursday, September 6th at Lansing: RHP Matt Wisler vs. LHP Justin Nicolino

Game 3 (if necessary): Friday, September 7th at Lansing: RHP Erik Cabrera vs. RHP Anthony DeSclafani OR RHP Aaron Sanchez

Jose Valentin said it last week, and reiterated it again to me this week, that he prefers the matchup with the Lugnuts. Although their starting pitching has been the best in the league this season, he feels that the TinCaps’ offense, defense and bullpen is better than what Lansing brings to the table right now in those areas of the game.

“We know that we’re going to face the best pitching staff in the league, but I’ll take my chances,” Valentin said. “If you want to win, you’ve got to beat the best. I think our team, offensively, is a better team than they are. Whoever pitches better and plays good defense I think will win.  Our philosophy will be to try and make their (starting pitchers’) pitch counts higher. After (the starters) are out, it’ll be a lot easier. “

To hear my full conversation with Jose about his first year as a manager and about the TinCaps playoff run, listen to today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:

MUSICAL GUEST

The Who…take it away!

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

Labor Day Doubleheader, Asencio’s Pursuit of the Crown

Here was the scene at Bowling Green Ballpark on Sunday afternoon:

See that tarp on the left side of the picture? Rain, rain and more rain was what halted any action on the penultimate day of the regular season. The TinCaps and Hot Rods are now scheduled to play two seven-inning games as part of a season-ending doubleheader tomorrow. The first game is scheduled to begin at 12:05 ET.

The big thing left for the TinCaps to keep their eyes on right now is Yeison Asencio’s pursuit of the Midwest League batting average title. He’ll enter Monday tied for the league batting title with Kevin Pillar, formerly of the Lansing Lugnuts.  There’s a little bit of math to be done here, but hang with me because it’s not all too difficult (especially for a guy like me who doesn’t like math).

Here are the numbers for both players:

Yeison Asencio: .322 average , 91 games, 348 at-bats, 376 plate appearances, 112 hits

Kevin Pillar: .322 average, 86 games, 335 at-bats, 375 plate appearances, 108 hits

The rules of the Midwest League state that you need at least 2.7 plate appearances per scheduled game to qualify for the batting title. There are 140 games, which multiplied by 2.7 gets you to the magic number of 378 plate  appearances. Pillar is three short of that number, and since he’s with Advanced-A Dunedin, he won’t reach it. With two plate appearances tomorrow, Asencio will reach that number. That doesn’t mean that Pillar is out of the running though. Meet Baseball Rule 10.22 (a):

Notwithstanding the foregoing requirement of minimum appearances at the plate, any player with fewer than the required number of plate appearances whose average would be the highest, if he were charged with the required number of plate appearances shall be awarded the batting, slugging or on-base percentage championship, as the case may be.

If, for example, Abel has the highest batting average among those with 502 plate appearance in a Major League with a .362 batting average (181 hits in 500 at-bats), and Baker has 490 plate appearances, 440 at-bats and 165 hits for a .375 batting average, Baker shall be the batting champion, because adding 12 more at-bats to Baker’s record would still give Baker a higher batting average than Abel: .365 (165 hits in 452 at-bats) to Abel’s .362.

Make sense? Basically, since Pillar is three plate appearances short of the required number, if we added three appearances (0-3) to his tally, he would then qualify, but it would also drop his average down to .319. That’s the number that Asencio is competing against tomorrow. Yeison needs two plate appearances to reach the threshold.

UPDATE: After a Twitter conversation with Padres Director of Player Development Randy Smith, here’s how it shakes out:

Fort Wayne, in the 19 seasons prior to this one, has never had a batting champion. In 1999, Sean Burroughs hit a remarkable .359 with the Wizards, but South Bend’s Carlos Urquiola hit .362 to take the crown.

And to think that Asencio didn’t even begin the season in spring training with the Padres.  Since he was formerly known as Yoan Alcantara, Asencio had to get a new visa, which took him until May 4th. (Here’s the full story from Baseball America.) He didn’t join the TinCaps for another two weeks, making his first appearance on May 19th. He is third on the team with 26 multi-hit games and has one of just three five-hit games this season for the TinCaps.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, I chat with Manager Jose Valentin about the regular season in review, Asencio’s chase for the crown and the team’s first-round matchup with the Lansing Lugnuts.

MUSICAL GUEST

Matchbox Twenty…take it away!

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

Headed to the Playoffs, Wrapping up the Regular Season in Kentucky

As I walked out of Parkview Field on Friday night, I couldn’t help but smile. It took 137 games, but the TinCaps knew after the final out of the game that they would be headed to the playoffs. TinCaps fans packed the park for the third consecutive night, creating an atmosphere that made for exciting baseball and high drama. The three-game series against West Michigan created a dizzying array of possibilities depending on which team ended up the winner, and fortunately the TinCaps cast aside any tiebreaking situations that would leave them on the outside looking in. Here’s how successful this franchise has been:

-This is the fourth consecutive season Fort Wayne has been in the playoffs

-Fort Wayne’s team has been in the postseason eight of the last 10 years (2007, 2008 no playoffs)

-The Wizards/TinCaps have made the playoffs in 12 0f the 20 years since professional baseball returned to Fort Wayne

Last night was fan appreciation night, and although I don’t get to experience the crowds down in the seats, it certainly has an effect on the broadcast each night. A huge, lively crowd helps to provide extra energy to me when I’m calling the game because I know that nearly 8,000 people are feeling excited about what’s happening, too.

The TinCaps Express departed Parkview Field this morning at 7:00 with an arrival of about 2:00 ET down in Bowling Green, Kentucky, for the final regular season series of the year. Although the TinCaps are in the playoffs, their first-round opponent is still to be determined. It will be either Bowling Green or Lansing, depending on what happens with Lake County over the final three games. Fort Wayne trails Lake County by one game in the race for the second half championship. Even if the Captains finish tied with the TinCaps, they hold the tiebreaker between the two teams, which would make Fort Wayne the wild card.

If the TinCaps are the second half champs, they’ll take on Bowling Green in the first round. If Fort Wayne is the wild card, they’ll play Lansing.

Here is some post-game reaction from the win last night:

James Jones:

Austin Hedges:

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, Tom Felice brings us an interesting story on batting practice. Every team goes through the ritual every day, and Tom takes us inside what goes on and what players take away from it:

MUSICAL GUEST

Citizen Cope…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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