Playoff Hero Michael Lang Returns to Saints
Call it the Noah Perio Jr. Theory: a player is traded from one team to another and said player comes back to do damage in the Championship Series against his former team en route to a title. That’s what happened to the St. Paul Saints in 2018 when they traded Perio Jr. to the Kansas City T-Bones and he ended up winning American Association Finals MVP against the Saints. In 2019, it was the Saints who were on the receiving end of this theory. Outfielder Michael Lang was traded from the Sioux City Explorers to the Saints and his game winning RBI double in the ninth inning of Game 2 against his former team helped set up a Saints eventual Finals sweep. That capped off an incredible six weeks for Lang with the Saints and he’ll have a chance to continue that as he was re-signed for the 2020 season.
The 30-year old Lang was traded to the Saints on July 28 for a player to be named later. Lang then went on to put up solid numbers hitting .272 with six home runs and 18 RBI in 35 games. In 147 at bats he scored 26 runs, smashed seven doubles, four triples, stole eight bases in 10 attempts, had a .333 on base percentage, a .497 slugging percentage, for an .830 OPS. Overall, he hit .277 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI in 100 games. In his first game with the Saints Lang tied a career high by swiping three bases on July 29 vs. Kansas City. He finished tied for first in the league in games played, playing in all 100 games, tied for fourth in stolen bases (21), and fifth in runs scored (73). He was even better in the playoffs hitting .323 with three RBI in eight games. Four of his 10 hits went for extra bases including that all-important RBI double in the top of the ninth inning in Game 2 of the American Association Finals that gave the Saints a 3-2 victory and a 2-0 series lead.
Lang signed his first professional contract in 2012 with the Explorers out of Rutgers University. During his rookie campaign he hit .405 with four home runs and 25 RBI in 34 games. In 121 at bats he scored 28 runs, had seven doubles, three triples, swiped six bases, had a .452 on base percentage, and a .612 slugging percentage for a 1.063 OPS. Those numbers were so impressive that he had his contract purchased by the Arizona Diamondbacks organization on June 24 and was assigned to Low-A Yakima. While there, he hit .258 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 55 games. In 194 at bats he scored 35 runs, cracked 10 doubles, three triples, stole six bases, had a .318 on base percentage, and a .433 slugging percentage. He led the Northwest League in total chances (138) and putouts (128) among outfielders. His team made the playoffs, but lost two-games-to-one in the semifinals to Boise.
In 2013 Lang spent the entire season with the South Bend Silver Hawks in the Single-A Midwest League. He hit .263 with five home runs and 22 RBI in 87 games. In 293 at bats he scored 36 runs, smacked 13 doubles, seven triples, stole seven bases, had a .326 on base percentage and a .406 slugging percentage. His team made the playoffs and reached the Midwest League Championship Series, getting swept by the Quad Cities River Bandits.
Lang returned to the Explorers in 2014 and hit .295 with 18 RBI in 79 games. In 295 at bats he roped 15 doubles, two triples, stole 15 bases, had a .377 on base percentage, and a .359 slugging percentage. He closed the season on a tear, a sign of things to come, as he hit safely in his final 13-games including nine multi-hit games during the streak.
The breakout season came in 2015 for Lang as he was named to the Post-Season All-Star team in the outfield and helped guide the Explorers to the most wins in American Association history, with 75. He hit a robust .343 with six home runs and 59 RBI in 81 games. In 335 at bats he scored 75 runs, clubbed 17 doubles, an astounding 10 triples, with a career high 45 stolen bases, had a .394 on base percentage, a .507 slugging percentage for a .902 OPS. Lang finished first in the league in triples, second in stolen bases, tied for third in runs, and fourth in average and stolen base percentage (.918). Lang had a 13-game hitting streak from June 5-18 and then topped that with a 14-game streak from July 21-August 25 (he was on the DL from July 31-August 20). He had 10 games of three hits or more. His speed was on display all season, stealing a base in back-to-back games six times, three in a row three times and four in a row once. He also stole two bases in a game 10 times and three times once. His team reached the playoffs and knocked out the Saints in the semi-finals, three-games-to-one. It was Lang’s seventh inning assist from right field, cutting down Nate Hanson at the plate, that helped preserve a 2-1 Game 4 victory for the Explorers. The Explorers, however would lose three-games-to-one to the Laredo Lemurs in the American Association Championship Series.
Lang put up solid numbers in 2016 as he hit .284 with five home runs and 41 RBI in 89 games. In 363 at bats he scored 83 runs, crushed a career high 22 doubles, five triples, walked a career high 45 times, stole 30 bases, had a .376 on base percentage and a .413 slugging percentage. He finished first in the league in runs scored and fifth in stolen bases. Lang had an 11-game hitting streak from June 8-20 and had 11 games in which he collected three or more hits. He also had an impressive run scoring streak, crossing home plate in an incredible 13-straight games from July 30-August 13. He set a career high on May 31 at Fargo with five RBI. The Explorers once again made the playoffs, but lost three-games-to-one to the Wichita Wingnuts in the semi-finals.
In 2017 Lang hit .258 with five home runs and 42 RBI in 90 games. In 349 at bats he scored 64 runs, smacked 15 doubles, five triples, stole 18 bases, had a .322 on base percentage, and a .372 slugging percentage. He finished third in the league in stolen base percentage (.947). He tied a career high with five RBI and hit a grand slam on June 11 at Gary SouthShore.
In 2018 Lang returned to his Post-Season All-Star form, getting selected for the second time in the outfield. He hit .304 with nine home runs and 45 RBI while playing all 100 games. In 414 at bats he scored 82 runs, roped 13 doubles, seven triples, stole 16 bases, had a .369 on base percentage, and a .435 slugging percentage. Lang finished first in the league in runs, tied for second in triples, third in stolen base percentage (.889), and fifth in hits (126). He came out of the gate scoring a run in the first 13 games and had three lengthy hitting streaks. He hit safely in 15-straight from June 2-17, then after not getting a hit in the next game, hit safely in the next 20 from June 21-July 11. He collected one hit over the next three games and then went on another tear hitting safely in another 20-straight from July 18-August 6. Overall, he collected a hit in an incredible 85 of 100 games he played and never went more than two straight games without a hit, which only happened twice.
During his career, Lang has been successful on 85.9% of his stole base attempts (164-191).
This is the fifth off-season signing for the Saints.
RHP Tanner Kiest
RHP Matt Quintana
INF Josh Allen
INF Telvin Nash
OF Michael Lang
The reigning American Association Champion Saints begin the 2020 season with the banner raising ceremony on Tuesday, May 19 at CHS Field against the Lincoln Saltdogs at 7:05 p.m.
By Sean Aronson, St. Paul Saints