2022 American Association First Half Recap: Sioux City Explorers
American Association Daily provides insights, features, and recaps of the action from around the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions. In today’s edition, Rob Pannier takes a look back at the first half of the 2022 American Association season for the Sioux City Explorers including who is their MVP and top pitcher, and discusses the prognosis heading forward.
A Look at the First Half for the Sioux City Explorers
(Ranking in American Association listed in parenthesis)
Overall Record: 21-30 (5th in West, 8th Overall)
Home Record: 12-15 (9th)
Away Record: 9-15 (11th)
Last 10: 4-6
Average: .263 (T-7)
Homeruns: 44 (10)
Runs Scored: 234 (11)
Slugging %: .390 (10)
On-Base %: .343 (T-8)
Stolen Bases: 53 (T-7)
ERA: 5.30 (8)
Saves: 11 (T-5)
Walks: 203 (8)
Strikeouts: 425 (8)
Opponent Average: .259 (T-5)
Fielding %: .975 (8)
Errors: 45 (5)
First Half Recap
The Sioux City Explorers may be the toughest team in the American Association to figure out. The offensive numbers are not impressive, and no one is surprised by that. It was not expected that they were going to produce large numbers of homeruns and score seven or eight runs per game consistently. However, it was expected that this pitching staff would carry this club, but that has not been the case.
The Explorers put themselves behind the eight ball right off, going 3-12 through the month of May, but began to turn things around in June, going 14-12. That included a sweep of the Kansas City Monarchs, which had many thinking that things had been righted. However, that was followed by a six-game losing streak, and the club has simply not played well since.
What Went Right?
The acquisitions made by manager Steve Montgomery have been good ones. Tyler Rando, Danny Amaral, Danry Vasquez, and Ademar Rifaela have all been added since the season got underway, and each has been a welcome addition to the offense, with all four hitting above .300.
Thomas McIlraith has settled into the closers role and has been spectacular. The right-hander has a 2.92 ERA, saving 10 ballgames while going 3-2. Starters Tom Windle, Patrick Ledet, and Kevin McCanna have all performed well.
What Went Wrong?
There have been some solid performances by the pitching staff, but the vast majority of this group has not performed up to expectations. Pitching is the hallmark of a Steve Montgomery team, but that has not been the case this season. This club was depending upon this bullpen to be one of the best in the league, but Brandon Brosher, Blaine Hardy, and Max Kuhns have not delivered.
In addition, two other staples of Montgomery teams, speed and defense have been shaky at best. The club is seventh in stolen bases and eighth in fielding percentage. They are going to have to steal games from teams to win, and so they need to improve in these two areas.
Top Pitcher: Patrick Ledet, LHP
This could go to McIlraith as well, but Ledet has stepped into the role as ace of the staff. The left-hander is 2-2 with a 3.67 ERA in 10 starts. In 61.1 innings, Ledet has allowed just 45 hits while striking out 54.
Top Hitter: Danny Amaral, OF
It is hard to imagine where this team would be had Montgomery not signed Amaral. The outfielder is hitting .331 with 26 runs scored and 16 RBI in 38 games. Plus, he has stolen 22 bases. The power numbers and on-base percentage are not great, but he has been a catalyst for this club wherever he has been asked to hit in the lineup.
Where Will Sioux City Explorers Be on September 5?
There is one thing for sure. This team is not going to score lots of runs. The additions that the Sioux City Manager has made have helped boost the production of the offense, but they are still not going to hit homeruns. Therefore, they need this pitching staff to deliver. The question is, can they do that? The answer is, it is unlikely. This team unfortunately misses the postseason this year.
By Robert Pannier