American Association 2021 Mid-Season Report: Kane County Cougars
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, Robert Pannier looks at the first half of the season for the Kane County Cougars, looking at top players, areas to improve, and where this team is likely to finish.
Kane County Cougars Reach Midway Point
Record: 25-26 (5, 8) (Place in Division in parenthesis, followed by record overall)
(Overall ranking in American Association listed in parenthesis)
Average: .259 (9) hello
Homeruns: 50 (T-8)
Runs: 244 (10)
Stolen Bases: 44 (9)
On-Base Percentage: .344 (T-10)
Slugging Percentage: .409 (9)
ERA: 4.26 (1)
Strikeouts: 360 (11)
Opponent Batting Average: .251 (T-4)
Saves: 11 (T-7)
Fielding Percentage: .978 (7)
Errors: 40 (7)
First Half Recap
Expectations changed for many once former St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis was named to take over the Cougars in their inaugural season in the American Association. Tsamis has established himself as one of the five best independent managers of all time, and he has lived up to expectations. While Kane County is just 25-26, their manager was trying to build the team with just a few months before the season got underway. In this particular season where the number of players available has seemed microscopic, that was a real challenge.
June was not a pleasant month for the Cougars, however. Through the first 19 games, the team was 5-14, but they have turned things around over the last four weeks, going 14-8. That has given some hope that this team can get back into the playoff chase.
If they do, it will be because of the performance of their outstanding pitching staff. Kane County is tops in the American Association in ERA, and it has been a couple of names that have really made their mark. Tyler Viza has become one of the top starters in the league, with only a 2-0 record but a spectacular 2.72 ERA in seven starts.
Mark Seyler was a castoff in Gary, but he has turned into a dependable closer for the Cougars. The righty began the season with an undefined role, but now has eight saves and a solid 2.45 ERA. He has made it so that Tsamis is able to define the roles of the rest of the staff more clearly.
Seyler has been unbelievable of late. He has not been scored on since June 6, a span of 16.1 innings, 13 appearances. That has seen him lower his ERA by 2.51 runs. Opponents are hitting just .210 against the closer and he has walked just three batters in his last 13 appearances.
Tom Curtin was a guy the team was depending upon, but he has struggled out of the bullpen. He did have a stretch of three straight one-inning outings where he did not give up a run, but has been scored upon in each of his last three outings and has a 7.22 ERA.
What They Need
The trouble spot for Kane County has been their offense. They can stick with the pitching staff they have and could battle for a playoff spot, but they must get a few bats to add to Josh Allen, Gavin LaValley, and Kacy Clemens.
What to Expect
In a year where pitching is the hottest commodity around, the Cougars are going to be the team that impacts the race the most. Either they find a bat or two and get into this race, maybe going all the way, something Tsamis did with St. Paul two years ago, or they become the team everyone turns to for pitching. I think this team will not have enough to contend to the end, finishing in fourth.
By Robert Pannier