Chicago Dogs – 2019 American Association Mid-Season Report Card
In American Association Daily, Robert Pannier examines the first half of the 2019 American Association season for the Chicago Dogs. This includes a recap of what has gone right and wrong for the team, as well providing the top pitcher and player to this point. Plus, a prognosis of what to expect in the remaining two months is included.
Chicago Dogs – Mid-Season Report
(League ranking is included in parenthesis)
Record: 37-23 (3rd in North, 3rd in American Association)
Home Record: 15-10 (5)
Away Record: 22-13 (1)
Team Batting Average: .290 (3)
Team ERA: 4.37 (5)
Team Fielding Percentage: .972 (10)
Average: Keon Barnum (.324)
Homeruns: Keon Barnum (18)
RBI: Keon Barnum (57)
Runs: Trey Vavra (43)
Stolen Bases: David Olmedo-Barrera (6)
ERA: Kyle Halbohn (1.37)
Wins: Luke Westphal (8)
Losses: Austin Wright (5)
Saves: Kyle Halbohn (9)
Innings Pitched: Luke Westphal (65.1)
Appearances: Rich Mascheri (24)
The Chicago Dogs got off to a tough start in 2018, beginning their first season in the American Association at 1-15. A struggling offense ruined the performance of one of the best pitching staffs in the league. However, that has not been an issue this season. The Dogs have one of the best offenses in the league and have an MVP candidate in Keon Barnum.
Chicago got off to a fast start this season, leaving May at 9-4. They slumped a bit in June, going 12-15, but they have been nearly unbeatable in July. The Dogs are 16-4 heading into the All-Star break, winning 14 of their last 15 games. That includes two sweeps of the Gary Southshore RailCats and a sweep of the Sioux Falls Canaries.
What Went Wrong
June started off well at 6-3, but two losses to the Texas AirHogs sent the team spiraling for a spell. They were swept by Fargo-Moorhead, and lost series to Kansas City, Winnipeg, and Texas. The pitching struggled in June, posting a 4.79 ERA, while the hitting looking mediocre. The team hit .248 for the month.
Beyond Westphal and Austin Wright, the starting pitching staff has been mediocre at best. Only one other starter has an ERA under five. Josh Goossen-Brown has struggled mightily this season and they will need him to turn things around if they are going to stay competitive.
What Went Right
Lots of things have gone right for this team. The performance that ace Luke Westphal has provided has been almost supernatural and the bullpen has been huge. It is really telling when a former Cy Young candidate is being outperformed by three other members of the bullpen.
While the pitching staff has delivered some outstanding performances, it has been the lineup that has been the real story. Barnum is a top five candidate for MVP and four players in the everyday lineup are hitting .300 or above.
While the average has been nice, the power has added a lot of bite for these Dogs. Barnum leads the league in homers, but the entire team has put up big numbers. Chicago is second in homers with 69 and they are third in runs scored at 351.
Mid-Season MVP: Keon Barnum
We may be calling Barnum the American Association MVP before it is all said and done. He leads the league in homers, and is tied for ninth in batting average at .324. Barnum is second in RBI (57) as well. Those are the kinds of numbers that are going to garner a lot of attention come MVP voting time, especially if the Dogs are in the race until the end.
Barnum entered the All-Star break with 12 hits in his last 22 at-bats and has been a catalyst in the team’s rise to near the top in the North. Barnum is the most recent Player of the Week in the American Association.
Mid-Season Top Pitcher: Luke Westphal
Come post-season award time, the Chicago Dogs may sweep the major awards as Luke Westphal is having one of the best seasons in league history. The left-hander began the season by not allowing a hit in any of his first two starts, and left May with a 0.00 ERA and three hits allowed in 17.2 innings pitched.
Westphal is 8-1 this season, tied for league lead in wins, and is second in ERA at 2.62. He is first in strikeouts (90). Westphal is the kind of ace that can win six more games down the stretch, and with this bullpen he does not have to go more than six innings, keeping his fresh.
The Chicago Dogs are for real. We believed they would finish third in this division, battling St. Paul until the end, and there is no reason to think that they are not a top tier team now. The Dogs have an experienced manager in Butch Hobson who has built a championship caliber club. It is all going to depend upon the bottom portion of their rotation, and that is their Achilles heel at this point. Chicago finishes in third.
By Robert Pannier