Sioux Falls Canaries Mid-Season Report
Record: 23-45, Fourth Place in North Division, 12th Place Overall
The year got off to a great start for the Sioux Falls Canaries. The team started out 5-0, sweeping the Sioux City Explorers for their first four wins before downing the St. Paul Saints. Manager Chris Paterson had the team rolling, but it has been a struggle since. An eight-game losing streak near the beginning of June was just the start of the woes for the team, and a nine-game losing streak in mid-July has really helped to put this team in a tough spot, eventually leading to the replacement of Paterson with Shelby Ford. Since Ford took over the team is 6-7, and is showing signs of coming out of their doldrums.
Mid-Season MVP: Blake Schmit
Infielder Blake Schmit has been incredible this season and represented his team in the American Association All-Star game in St. Paul, MN, just a few short miles from where Blake grew up. He entered the All-Star break with a .319 average in 64-games, with 42-runs scored, 20-RBI and 13-stolen bases. His average is ranked 11th in the league, and he leads the team in batting average, runs scored, stolen bases and hits.
Schmit seems like he would be a no-brainer of a choice, but David Bergin has been outstanding for the team as well. He has 51-RBI, ranked eighth in the league, and has added 16-doubles, 12-homeruns, and a .286 average.
Mid-Season Top Pitcher: Joe Bircher
Joe Bircher is having the hard luck season of the year. His 2.87 ERA is fifth best in the American Association, yet he is only 1-6. The team has not scored for him and the record has been the result. It is not like he has given up a whole bunch of unearned runs, allowing just eight in his 13-starts. He simply is not getting run support right now. Bircher is first in the league in innings pitched (81.2) and his 71-strikeouts lead the league as well. It is hard to imagine a guy being named the league’s overall best pitcher when his team is in last place and he is five-games under .500, but the Sioux Falls Canaries starter is making a strong case to be the exception.
Sadly, this is a situation of wait until next year. The team is 23.5 games out of first in the North Division and 15.5 games behind the Wild Card leader. They have played well under Manager Shelby Ford, but with three games against Winnipeg, four against St. Paul, seven against Gary Southshore, and three left against Lincoln it is going to be hard for them to make a huge run. They do have 14-games against Kansas City, Texas, and Sioux City, but they would have to win all of those games and then win at least 70 percent of the games against the others to get back in it. Not likely, but this team has a real shot at being the spoiler this season. They may affect the league by who they are willing to deal in the next few weeks.
By Robert Pannier