Lincoln Saltdogs – 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 Lincoln Saltdogs. 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.
Lincoln Saltdogs – Mid-Season Report
(League ranking is included in parenthesis)
Record: 25-35 (5th in South, 10th in American Association)
Home Record: 16-10 (3)
Away Record: 9-25 (11)
Team Batting Average: .246 (10)
Team ERA: 4.64 (8)
Team Fielding Percentage: .980 (T-4)
Average: Curt Smith (.329)
Homeruns: Cody Regis (12)
RBI: Cody Regis (40)
Runs: Curt Smith (39)
Stolen Bases: John Sansone (4)
ERA: Austin Boyle (1.72)
Wins: Nick Tepesh (6)
Losses: Ricky Knapp (6)
Saves: Jost Ortega (3)
Innings Pitched: John Brownell (71.1)
Appearances: Austin Boyle (27)
The 2019 season is shaping up very much like that of the previous year. Lincoln was in the chase up until about early July of last year before the pack began to separate. That appears to be the case this year as well.
The Saltdogs began the year going 7-7 in May and, as the rest of the division was struggling early on, they were battling for first place. The team stayed competitive through June, going 13-15, but things have fallen off dramatically in July. After a 5-4 start, the team has lost nine straight games, including being swept by Texas heading into the All-Star break.
What Went Wrong
Manager Bobby Brown has been making a lot of moves looking for the perfect formula, but it just hasn’t happened yet. The pitching staff has been mediocre, especially in the starting rotation. The loss of Tepesch was huge, as he was arguably one of the top two or three pitchers in the league. Brownell has pitched well, but the rest of this starting rotation has been a disappointment.
The same can be said of the lineup. Apart from Smith, Regis, and Randolph Oduber, the everyday lineup has not performed well. They are 10th the league in hitting and are 11th in runs scored.
What Went Right
Curt Smith is truly an ageless wonder. Smith leads the team in hitting and continues to be one of the most influential players in the league. He is a great clubhouse guy, and is someone that every player in the American Association would love to have on their team.
Brownell has been another ageless wonder, having an outstanding season at 36 years old. Brownell has proven to be the only dependable starter for Bobby Brown now that Tepesch is out. Austin Boyle has been outstanding in the bullpen.
Mid-Season MVP: Curt Smith
Honestly, is there really anyone else to consider? Smith leads the team in batting at .329, is first in runs scored (39), second in RBI (33), second in home runs (10), and first in doubles (15). His .382 on-base percentage is second on the team, and he has played in 58 of the teams 60 games this season.
Smith entered the All-Star break in a bit of a slump, going just 4 for his last 23, dropping his average from .343. However, he has hits in 45 of the 58 games he is appeared in and recorded an 11 game hitting streak from June 30-July 13 that saw him rattle off six multi-hit games.
Mid-Season Top Pitcher: Austin Boyle
In a season that is turning out to be a disappointment for Lincoln, Boyle has been a real find for manager Bobby Brown. The right-hander entered the break 2-1 with a 1.72 ERA. In 31.1 innings, the right-hander has allowed just 18 hits while striking out 42.
In his 27 appearances this season, Boyle has allowed runs in only six of those appearances, and has not allowed more than one run in any ballgame this year. He has been the ultimate model of consistency, and it will be interesting to see if the Saltdogs are willing to deal him as the trade deadline approaches.
While much of the division will have the advantage of playing head-to-head, giving those teams an opportunity to try to stake a claim to the division title, Lincoln will play a lot of their remaining games against the North. Not a very pleasant thought considering the fact that the three best teams in the league are in the upper division. We predicted Lincoln to finish fifth when the season began, and that is likely where the Saltdogs will finish.
By Robert Pannier