In American Association Daily, this is the unofficial All-Star break in the American Association, so Robert Pannier takes a look at Sioux City Explorers and how they have performed to this point in the season and how they have performed to this point in the season and take a look at what to expect as the American Association heads to its stretch run..
A Look at the Sioux City Explorers: Summary
Record: 43-16, First (4.5 Lead in South Division)
Team Batting: Avg: .304 (1st), HR: 37 (10th), R: 377 (1st), SB: 72 (3rd)
Team Pitching: ERA: 3.67 (1st), Saves: 20 (3rd), WHIP: 1.35 (4th)
Batting: Jay Austin (.354)
Home Runs: José Sermo (10)
RBI: Jay Baum (51)
Runs Scored: Michael Lang (53)
Stolen Bases: Jay Austin (13)
Wins: Justin Vernia (8)
ERA: Pat Schuster (1.01)
Saves: Eric Karch (12)
IP: Luis Mateo (79.1)
The Sioux City Explorers Highlights
The real question is what hasn’t been a highlight for the Sioux City Explorers? The team is number one in pitching, number one in hitting, and number one in runs scored. They have four players who have more than 40 runs scored this season and four who have driven in 40 or more runs. The offense is just devastating, deep, with power, and speed. They can beat you in a number of ways and it is easy to see why this team is the best in the league.
While the starting rotation has been solid, it has been the performance in the back end of that rotation which has really been astounding. Justin Vernia is 8-1 and Luis Mateo 7-3. Matteo leads the team in innings pitched and has 73 strikeouts in 79.1 innings pitched.
While the starting staff has performed well, it has been this bullpen that is the headliner. Ryan Flores, Eric Karch, and Pat Schuster each have ERAs under three and have allowed a total of 19 earned runs in 89 innings pitched. It’s a remarkable group that has made it impossible for teams to rally late against the Explorers.
The Sioux City Explorers Low-Lights
There are really only two concerns for Sioux City this season. One is how they have played against two of the potential playoff teams they may face. Against Kansas City, the Explorers are 4-4, and they swept the Saints in St. Paul but lost two of three at home. Neither of these teams are going to be intimidated by the Explorers come playoff time, and intimidation has been one of the key elements of this Sioux City team.
The other problem has been the performance of the team at home. As dominant as the Explorers have been this season, they are just 16-11 at home. They are unreal on the road, but need to perform better in their own home stadium.
Top Player – Nate Samson
There are six players on this team who could stake their claim as the Explorers best player. All of them have great numbers, but it is Nate Samson who has done more for this team than just put up numbers. His .327 average is second on the team and he is second in runs scored and second in RBI, but it is his leadership on the field that has made him the top choice.
Top Pitcher – Ryan Flores
A few seasons back, Explorers Manager Steve Montgomery had Rob Wort, who was a guy he turned to out of the bullpen in any situation. Wort became the instant rally killer, and that is the role that Ryan Flores has filled this season. The reliever has a 2.35 ERA in 28 appearances, striking out 45 in 42 innings. Flores has a 6-2 record with 2 saves.
We thought this was the team that was going to win the championship when the season began and nothing has gone on to change our opinion of that. Look for the Explorers to continue to roll, thanks to the fact that both Wichita and Kansas City are playing extremely well. There will be no letting up, which willkeep this team battle tested when the playoffs come around.
By Robert Pannier