2022 American Association First Half Recap: Lincoln Saltdogs
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 Lincoln Saltdogs including who is their MVP and top pitcher, and discusses the prognosis heading forward.
A Look at the First Half for the Lincoln Saltdogs
(Ranking in American Association listed in parenthesis)
Overall Record: 26-25 (4th in The West, 6th Overall)
Home Record: 15-12 (7th)
Away Record: 11-13 (8th)
Last 10: 5-5
Average: .260 (10)
Homeruns: 42 (11)
Runs Scored: 240 (10)
Slugging %: .390 (T-10)
On-Base %: .342 (T-10)
Stolen Bases: 50 (9)
ERA: 4.74 (7)
Saves: 15 (4)
Walks: 222 (9)
Strikeouts: 430 (7)
Opponent Average: .264 (8)
Fielding %: .974 (9)
Errors: 46 (9)
First Half Recap
The Lincoln Saltdogs served notice that they were going to be serious contenders in the West Division, coming out of May with an 11-5 record. The club hit 17 homers and had a .262 batting average. However, the pitching staff has some glaring weaknesses, posting a 5.16 ERA, and that began to carry into June, as Lincoln went 11-15.
The big deal was the offense in the first month, but Justin Byrd headed for Mexico, and others began to see their numbers dwindle. That has carried over into July as they are 4-5 to the first nine games, hitting just two homeruns while posting a .268 batting average. In a division with arguably the two best offenses in the American Association, that is simply not enough run production, and 42 homeruns in 51 games is not going to do the job in this division.
What Went Right?
The bullpen has been spectacular for Lincoln. Brandon Cunniff began the season as the closer, but Steffon Moore took over the job after the release of Cunniff and he has been spectacular, posting a 0.36 ERA in 20 appearances while saving seven games. Moore has walked 15 batters in 25.1 innings pitched, but he has struck out 33 and has a 95+ mile an hour fastball.
The signing of Patrick Caulfield to go along with Welington Dotel, Ryan Long, Garett Delano, and Josh Altmann has made this a solid lineup. Hunter Clanin has tailed off recently after flirting with a .300 batting average through much of the first six weeks, but he is rounding into one of the best all-around players in the league.
What Went Wrong?
While it is a solid lineup, it is not a great one. This West Division is stacked with quality lineups, and a club simply cannot compete if they cannot going hit 125 homeruns. Lincoln is 11th with 42 entering the break, likely meaning they finish somewhere around 80. That is simply not enough and is holding this team back from being one of the top three in the division.
Top Pitcher: Greg Minier, LHP
Greg Minier could easily stake claim to the top pitcher in the American Association this season. The lefty is 4-4 with a 2.41 ERA in 10 starts. Minier has allowed 47 hits and 20 walks while striking out 54 in 56.0 innings. The club does not ask him to give much more than six innings each time out, but he has not only proven to be dependable, but downright spectacular.
Top Hitter: Josh Altmann, IF
Altmann had a breakout season last year, finishing third in the MVP voting. A lot was expected of him this season, and his numbers have not been as impressive to start the year, hitting .269 with eight homers and 34 RBI in 49 games. However, he leads the Saltdogs in most offensive categories, and is the biggest bat in this lineup by far.
Where Will Lincoln Saltdogs Be on September 5?
Because of the pitching staff, this team is going to compete. Minier is spectacular, and they have a good group of arms in the bullpen that will keep this team in games. The question is going to be how much offense they can produce. It will probably just enough to earn them that final spot in the West Division playoffs.
By Robert Pannier