2022 American Association First Half Recap: Sioux Falls Canaries
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 Falls Canaries including who is their MVP and top pitcher, and discusses the prognosis heading forward.
A Look at the First Half for the Sioux Falls Canaries
(Ranking in American Association listed in parenthesis)
Overall Record: 21-31 (6th in West, 9th Overall)
Home Record: 14-11 (6th)
Away Record: 7-20 (12th)
Last 10: 7-3
Average: .271 (6)
Homeruns: 60 (5)
Runs Scored: 273 (9)
Slugging %: .432 (7)
On-Base %: .355 (6)
Stolen Bases: 18 (12)
ERA: 6.19 (11)
Saves: 11 (T-5)
Walks: 209 (8)
Strikeouts: 384 (11)
Opponent Average: .286 (T-11)
Fielding %: .977 (T-6)
Errors: 41 (T-7)
First Half Recap
There were high expectations for the pitching staff entering the 2022 season, as the Sioux Falls Canaries looked like they finally had the arms to be able to compete in a very tough West Division. However, that did not materialize. Angel Ventura struggled and was traded. Tyler Garkow spent a couple of weeks on the disabled list. It took two months for Cesilio Pimentel to work out his visa issues before he arrived. Only Ty Culbreth was able to reach expectations.
That got Sioux Falls off to a tough start, going 5-12 in May and 10-16 in June. The club had an abysmal 8.32 ERA through the first month, but was able to cut that by more than three runs in the second. Now, they currently find themselves playing very good baseball, going 6-3 in July as they have homered 13 times in the first nine games of the month.
In previous seasons, the offense was often able to make up for the shortcomings of the pitching staff, but this has not been a big offensive year in Sioux Falls. The team is only fifth in homeruns and ninth in runs scored, very un-Canaries like. However, Aaron Takacs has become a catalyst for this club since he was acquired. The club has scored 60 runs in his nine games while the pitching staff has improved as well, allowing 51 runs. While 5.5 games behind Lincoln for the final playoff spot, there is plenty of time left for this team to make a run.
What Went Right?
There is a core group in this lineup that have been absolutely spectacular. Wyatt Ulrich continues to impress, posting a .352 batting average with 45 runs scored and 23 RBI in 51 games. Gavin LaValley has not put up the homerun numbers the team expected, but is still hitting .323 in 47 games and Ozzie Martinez has been a great acquisition, hitting .297 in earning an All-Star bid. Jabari Henry has even kept Father Time in check, blasting 19 homers and hitting .272.
Culbreth has been pitching outstanding for this team. The left-hander is 5-3 with a 4.45 ERA in 10 starts, walking just 12 batters in 62.2 innings. He has been a great role model for these young pitchers on how a pitcher can win in Sioux Falls.
What Went Wrong?
The starting staff has not lived up to expectations. Things are turning up with the way that Culbreth is pitching and the fact that Pimentel is finally in Sioux Falls, but they need some help from Garkow, Joey Pulido, and Cristian Johnson. The acquisition of John Nester should help this pitching staff, but he enters the second half on the disabled list.
Top Pitcher: Ty Culbreth, LHP
The numbers may not look spectacular, but Culbreth has become one of the top starters in the American Association. With a 5-3 record and a 4.45 ERA, he is keeping Sioux Falls in games each and every night. The lefty has not hurt himself by giving away runs, allowing just 12 walks. He is on pace for a 10 win season, and will be the reason that this team makes the playoffs if they do.
Top Hitter: Wyatt Ulrich, OF
It is hard to ignore the season that Henry is having, but Ulrich has delivered the entire year. He is one of the most consistent performers in the league, and someone that manager Mike Meyer can count on to get on base one or two times in nine out of every 10 games. With a .352 batting average, 45 runs, 20 extra-base hits, and a .411 on-base percentage, the outfielder earned a well-deserved All-Star game appearance.
Where Will Sioux Falls Canaries Be on September 5?
This is likely to be a .500 club in the second half, but that will not be enough to catch one of the four teams to make the playoffs in this ultracompetitive West Division. The hole was dug to deep early on, and so it will be a disappointing season for the Canaries.
By Robert Pannier