Week 11: History in the Making
Week 11 showed a lot of “first for the season” moments to get the Hops going in the right direction. This week saw the first six-game series won by the Hops this season. And, they did it with their first four-game winning streak of the season. Axel Andueza and Jorge Barrosa both hit their first home runs of the season. For Andueza, it was the second of his career. To celebrate, he hit his second of the season (third of his career) the following night. Most of all, Brandon Pfaadt pitched his teams’ first complete shutout game of the season. In fact, it was the first since 2015, six years ago. This week may signal the week the season turned around for the better. Let’s see what happened since Week 10.
Week 11 Offense
For the most part, the team has shown gains which translated to their first six-game winning streak. Most impressively in team batting average. A jump from .212 the week before to .244 this week is no mean feat. A jump like that doesn’t happen without key individuals taking a step themselves. Cam Coursey stood at the top batting .400 jumping his own average from .217 to .237, a whopping 20 points. Add to that a three-way tie for most hits for the week at six, I would put Cam at a positive 1.3 stars which I will explain before I am through here.
In addition to Coursey, three others raised their average by a noticeable amount. Batting .333, Dom Canzone raised his from .246 to .257 and now leads the Hops in personal batting average. Andy Yerzy also batted .333, raising his average from .207 to .220 and Eduardo Diaz batted .317 going from .152 to .176. Trends like these are usually not one week only stands. They are usually continuing a found confidence at the plate or the realization of the same.
Over on the run table, Diaz and Axel Andueza led the team with five runs scored each for the week. Canzone and Andueza both led the team with four RBIs. Canzone led the team in doubles (3) and triples (1). The closest anyone came to Dom? Four other players had one double for the week. And, Dom was the only triple for anyone. Spencer Brickhouse continues his power surge with the only Hops to have two home runs this week.
Finally, total bases were led by a familiar name again: Dom Canzone with eleven. Those consisted of two singles, three doubles and one triple. Spencer Brickhouse was very close behind with nine with a single and two home runs.
Now, for the stars I mentioned earlier. It is just a simple ranking I came up with to help organize progress. A star means a player led the team in one category. If two players co-led the team, then each one gets .5 stars. A three-way tie is .3 stars, etc.
Therefore, the star this week went to Dom Canzone with 3.8 stars. The list for the week is as follows:
Week 11 All Star Votes
3.8 stars Dom Canzone hits (T-3), RBI (T-2), doubles, triples and total bases
1.3 stars Cam Coursey avg., hits (T-3)
1.0 stars Spencer Brickhouse home runs
1.0 stars Axel Andueza runs (T-2), RBI (T-2)
0.8 stars Eduardo Diaz runs (T-2), hits (T-3)
For the record, all batters contributed in a positive way to the success of this week or any week. Including those who did not lead in any one category. Success by individuals on a team should always be shared equally. This is just another way of seeing who might be considered Player of the Week.
Now for the Pitchers
Looking at pitchers is a little different. Batters will play four or five games a week, creating an overall body of work to look at. So, with a batter, we look at cumulative totals in comparison. Pitchers, however for the most part, only get one chance to show what they can do per week. If the pitcher is lucky, the rotation will allow him a chance to open and close the series for two chances but it is not the same.
Still, there are some numbers to crunch that can be done on a simpler level. With six games, you can have up to six different pitchers to compare on singular levels. Those levels are the normal standards for pitchers: wins, ERA and strikeouts. With those numbers, you have the chance for a clear cut pitcher of the week.
With four wins during the week, the Hops had four different winning pitchers: Ty Jones, Brandon Pfaadt, Slade Cecconi and Justin Lewis. Only one pitcher was credited with a save: Nick Snyder adding to his team leading total of five saves. Note: only active or current players are considered team leader for this article. Joe Jones also had five saves for the Hops when wearing a Hops uniform but he was promoted to the Amarillo Sod Poodles.
Both Yaramil Hiraldo and Mailon Arroyo earned another save for their record books. Seven different pitchers pitched nothing but shutout innings for the week: Brandon Pfaadt (9.0), Justin Lewis (3.0), Ty Jones (2.2), Nick Snyder (2.0), Yaramil Hiraldo (2.0), Kyler Stout (1.0) and Mailon Arroyo (1.0).
But, shutout out innings are a part of the ERA which is one of the three important stats for the pitcher. With the exception of Pfaadt, all shutout out innings totaled three or less innings. That left out (except Pfaadt and Josh McMinn) starting pitchers if they have a quality start. Therefore, the best ERAs for starting pitchers this week would be:
0.00 Brandon Pfaadt (9 innings – win)
0.00 Josh McMinn (3 innings – no decision)
1.80 Drew Jameson (5 innings – no decision)
4.19 Blake Walston (4.1 innings – no decision)
5.14 Slade Cecconi (7 innings – win)
12.56 Justin Vernia (4.1 innings – no decision)
Final category is strikeouts. Again, a split is best when looking at the differences in a starting pitcher, receiver or closer. A starting pitcher has a better chance to amass total strikeouts where a closer has a better chance at strikes per innings.
Therefore, let’s look at total strikes first. This week, Blake Walston took the top of the list with eight strikeouts for the week. The next closest were Drew Jameson (7), Slade Cecconi (6), Ty Jones (5), Brandon Pfaadt (5) and Josh McMinn (5)
For strikeouts per inning, we see a slightly different list: Kyler Stout (3.00), Ty Jones (1.92), Blake Walston (1.86), Josh McMinn (1.67) and Kai-Wei Lin (1.50). Three of the names are starters from the previous list. Two new names are relievers. Kyler Stout recorded three Ks facing three batters in his one inning. In other words, a perfect inning or what is known as an “immaculate inning”.
From these stats, it makes it a little bit easier to rank performances over a week or longer. The only difference here is instead of a split lead leading to a portion of a star, I am awarding a full star for each co-leader. In the case of ERA I am adding one full star for each shutout. For strikeouts, I am adding graduating stars, i.e., one for the top, .8 for the second, etc for the first five positions. For starting pitcher ERA, I am adding graduating stars as long as their ERA is under the team’s average for that week. This week, the team average is 3.44 ERA. This week, we have the following:
All-Star Votes: Pitchers
(Again, there is no bottom of this list. All pitchers made a positive contribution to the Hops’ week. Consider these number of votes for All-Star)
- 4.0 Brandon Pfaadt
2. 2.8 Ty Jones
3. 2.0 Nick Snyder
Tie 2.0 Yaramil Hiraldo
” 2.0 Kyler Stout
Tie 2.0 Justin Lewis
” 2.0 Mailon Arroyo
8. 1.6 Blake Walston
9. 1.0 Slade Cecconi
10. 0.6 Drew Jameson
11. 0.4 Josh McMinn
12. 0.2 Kai-Wei Lin
One caveat for all of this. The stats I used are great when the picture can be muddy or at least a little foggy. But, I reserve the right to ignore these on a weekly basis if I feel that a pitcher (or batter) has had an historic week and their feat(s) overrides any stats for the week. This week, that has happened. However, the pitcher who had the historic week also led the week with his stats.
Brandon Pfaat did what no other Hops pitcher has done in years. He threw a complete shutout. Nine innings of not letting the opposing team score a run. And, he did it with only 91 pitches, an average of ten pitches per inning.
Brandon Pfaadt’s complete game shutout is that historic feat. Even though that feat led to him being at the top of many stats lists this week, I am not naming Brandon the top pitcher by stats. I am putting him there for his historic accomplishment. This may sound redundant but there may come a week where an historic accomplishment may not secure a pitcher this title by his stats. Therefore, I am reserving the right to ignore my “stats” self so I can listen to my “historic” self.
Now, let’s look at each game for the week.
Week 11: Game#1 Hops lose 2-3
This was one of those games that was too close to call. The Hops took a one run lead in the third inning. Two innings later, the Canadians took a one run lead. The Hops tied it in the next inning. Vancouver took another one run lead in the eighth. If it had gone another two innings or more, the Hops would have been back in the lead… until the Canadians would take back the lead. Vancouver leads the series 1-0.
Week 11: Game#2 Hops win 2-0
This game could easily be the highlight of the week if not the month or year. Not since 2015 had a Hops pitcher pitched a complete game. And Brandon Pfaadt made it look easier than it should be. Brandon stayed consistent throughout, averaging ten pitches per inning. During that time, he only struck out five but he kept control by controlling the pitch making it much too hard for the batter to place. Spin rate popped the ball up for easy catches. Dancing moves around the plate sent grounders to well-placed infielders. By throwing 66% strikes, the batter had to be on their toes for a more than likely toss over the plate. But, 33% balls was just enough doubt to make the batter chase down and out pitches that were out of reach. Hops tie the series 1-1.
Week 11: Game#3 Hops win 7-4
The highlight was Axel Andueza smacking his first home run of the season and the second of his career. His first was way back in 2017. It gave the Hops a comfortable lead at 4-0 but it wouldn’t be enough. Luckily, the Hops had an answer for every Canadians run scored to stay in control. Hops lead series 2-1.
Week 11: Game#4 Hops win 12-6
So many highlights. Axel Andueza hit his third homer of his career the night after he hit his second. Both were two-run homers. Dom Canzone went 2 for 4 upping his team leading average from .250 to .257. Cam Coursey spent a perfect night going 4 for 4. As a team, the Hops exploded the scoring with a six-run second inning to take a 6-0 lead. And every time the Canadians scored, the Hops weren’t far behind with a matching score. At least until Justin Lewis took the mound for the Hops and shut Vancouver down. All this and fireworks after the game in honor of Salute to Service night. Hops lead series 3-1.
Week 11: Game#5 Hops win 4-3
Spencer Brickhouse flipped the Hops over the Canadians when his eighth inning home run with Jorge Barrosa on base went out of the park. The score went from being down 3-2 to being up 4-3. It wasn’t quite a walk off but the eighth inning is as close as you can get. It gave the Hops their fourth win in a row and secured their first six-game series win of the season. The Hops take a 4-1 series lead and clinch the series win.
Week 11: Game#6 Hops lose 4-6
The Hops took the first lead but never led again, spending the rest of the game trying to catch up. Spencer Brickhouse hit his second home run in two nights showing his bat is waking up. But, the offensive star of the night turned out to be Vancouver’s Eric Rivera. He went to the plate four times and reached base every time, having his hand in most of the scoring. Hops win the series 4-2 but lose the last game 4-6. Good news on the last night is this is the first six-game series the Hops won this year and there is plenty of hope that this won’t be the last.
The Season So Far
Are the Hops turning it around? No one can deny there has been a struggle in the first half of the season but signs are pointing to a re-birth. Power is up. Batting is up. New pitchers are adding to the veteran pitchers. Hopefully, the Hops can point back to week 10 as the start of winning.
Week 11 Team Leaders
This week added a few but important changes to team leaders. Blaze Alexander continues to lead the most categories: games (44), at bats (169), runs (26), hits (37), walks (24) and doubles (10). Blaze lost the lead in total bases to Spencer Brickhouse (64).
Dom Canzone continues to co-lead in triples (3) with Reece Hampton. He also took over the lead in two different categories: average (.257) and OPS (.790).
Brickhouse maintained his tie with Alexander in games (44) and added total bases (64) as his bat continues to wake up with adding two more home runs this week.
Andy Yerzy continues to lead in RBI (21) and home runs (7).
Tristin English joined the leaders club by tying with Andy Yerzy in RBI (21).
Reece Hampton continues to share the lead in triples (3) with Canzone.
Week 11 Potential Season MVPs
In the spirit of the all-star votes in the weekly totals above, I planned to do something similar with the season-to-date totals only this time around to refer to them as MVP votes. I also planned to do the same with the pitchers but ran out of time in getting the numbers crunched. I hope to add those next week, only without the lengthy explanations and just putting in a link back to this column if someone wants to know the details. Also, this only includes current members of the roster at this point.
Here is this week’s list on the season so far.
MVP votes (as of 7/19/2021)
5.5 Blaze Alexander
2.5 Dom Canzone
1.5 Spencer Brickhouse
1.5 Andy Yerzy
0.5 Tristin English
0.5 Reece Hampton
Week 11 Top Three:
In interest of overview here are the top three in each category:
Games: Spencer Brickhouse (44), Blaze Alexander (44) and Tristin English (43)
At bats: Blaze Alexander (169), Tristin English (150) and Spencer Brickhouse (149)
Runs: Blaze Alexander (26), Reece Hampton (21) and Eduardo Diaz (20)
Hits: Blaze Alexander (37), Spencer Brickhouse (36) and Axel Andueza (36)
RBI: Andy Yerzy (21), Tristin English (21) and Dom Canzone (18)
Walks: Blaze Alexander (24), Nick Dalesandro (21) and Spencer Brickhouse (20)
Average: Dom Canzone (.257), Nick Dalesandro (.243) and Axel Andueza (.242)
OPS: Dom Canzone (.790), Andy Yerzy (.776) and Spencer Brickhouse (.764)
Doubles: Blaze Alexander (10), Spencer Brickhouse (8) and Dom Canzone (8)
Triples: Dom Canzone (3), Reece Hampton (3), Jorge Barrosa (2) and Blaze Alexander (2)
Home Runs: Andy Yerzy (7), Eduardo Diaz (6) and Spencer Brickhouse (5)
Total bases: Spencer Brickhouse (64), Blaze Alexander (59) and Dom Canzone (57)
Week 11: Transactions 7/13-7/18
7/13 – Julio Frias placed on 7-day injured list
Joining the Hops shortly after the 2021 season started, Julio appeared in eleven games, all in relief. He joined the Diamondbacks organization in a September 19th, 2020 trade with the Miami Marlins. With the Hops, Julio allowed ten runs in 15.2 innings and amassed 17 strikeouts.
7/14 – Kenny Hernandez promoted to the Amarillo Sod Poodles
Kenny is a seasoned veteran having first appeared in a Hops uniform back in 2018, his third pro season. He opened 2021 back with the Hops. While here, Kenny appeared in ten games, starting six and amassing a 3-3 record. He struck out 49 in 41 innings. He earned his promotion by being one of the more dependable starting pitchers this year.
7/14 – Josh McMinn
Josh traveled the Covid-19 Highway to finally get to the Hops. Drafted in 2019 (round 27, 812 overall) out of Oral Roberts, he was assigned to the Missoula Osprey where he spent the entire 2019 season. More than likely, he would have been promoted to the Hillsboro Hops the following year.
But, we all know what happened in 2020. Covid-19 arrived and the 2020 season was canceled for the entire minor leagues. 2021 arrives and the next step for him now is the Visalia Rawhide who are Low-A and the first rung on the ladder of the minor leagues. While there, Josh appeared in 3 games in relief. He pitched six scoreless innings allowing three walks and striking out five. Now, Josh finally gets the chance to wear a Hops uniform.
7/15 – RHP Shumpei Yoshikawa promoted to Amarillo Sod Poodles
Yoshikawa never got a chance to play in a Hops uniform. He was assigned to the team back in February but placed on the 7-day injured list at the beginning of the season. 22 days later, he was transferred to the 60-day list. On July 9th, the Hops sent him down to the ACL D-backs for a rehab assignment. There, he pitched one inning in relief and gave up two runs. Consequently, he was assigned to the Sod Poodles on 7/15.
Week 12: Looking Forward
Furthermore, the Hops hit the road for Eugene next week for their next six-game series. Moreover, the first game will feature Blake Walston (0-1, 5.73 ERA) and Connor Nurse (1-5, 6.14 ERA) as the starting pitchers. The two teams’ first meeting, week 2 @Eugene, the teams split the six games but that week also featured the first two games at Ron Tonkin Stadium due to scheduling concerns. Consequently, the second meeting, week 7 @Eugene, featured the sweep of the Hops by the Emeralds. The third meeting, week 9 @Hillsboro, featured another 3-3 split between the two teams. Likewise, this coming week will be their fourth meeting of the season and will be at Eugene again. So far, the record is 12-6, Eugene. However, there are two more weekly series scheduled for this season, both scheduled at the Tonk.
Until then, I’ll see you back in a week with a look back at week 12. In the meantime, catch my daily game recaps during the week the day after the game.