St. Paul Saints – 2019 American Association Mid-Season Report Card
In American Association Daily, Robert Pannier examines the first half of the 2019 American Association season for the St. Paul Saints. This includes a recap of what has gone right and wrong for the team, as well providing the top pitcher and player to this point. Plus, a prognosis of what to expect in the remaining two months is included.
St. Paul Saints – Mid-Season Report
(League ranking is included in parenthesis)
Record: 40-21 (1st in North, 1st in League)
Home Record: 22-9 (1)
Away Record: 18-12 (2)
Team Batting Average: .286 (4)
Team ERA: 3.95 (3)
Team Fielding Percentage: .983 (T-2)
Average: Dan Motl (.335)
Homeruns: Max Murphy (17)
RBI: Brady Shoemaker (48)
Runs: Dan Motl (47)
Stolen Bases: Dan Motl (14)
ERA: Mike Devine (1.71)
Wins: Eddie Medina (6)
Losses: Dustin Crenshaw (5)
Saves: Todd Van Steensel (15)
Innings Pitched: Dustin Crenshaw (81.2)
Appearances: Ken Frosch, Landon Beck (30)
The St. Paul Saints came out of May near the top of the North at 9-5, but they have taken charge of this division ever since. It was the surprising performance of the pitching staff that set the stage early, as the team posted a 2.52 ERA through the first two weeks of the season, led by Eddie Medina throwing a no-hitter against the Cleburne Railroaders.
The team was playing well, but the lineup was struggling, hitting just .257. That changed in June when the Saints started to score runs, hitting .291. That helped the team post an 18-9 record, second best in the league. In July, they are hitting .302 which has helped the Saints post a 13-7 record. The team has been in first or second since the first week of the season.
A sweep of the RedHawks leading into the break gave St. Paul a two game lead. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games.
What Went Wrong
Injuries have played a huge roll with this team. Ace Eddie Medina has battled a nagging elbow problem for weeks, and setup star Mike Devine has returned after being out for a month. Plus, the team lost shortstop Joey Wong and his backup Blake Schmit.
The starting staff has performed well, but they have their issues as well. Dustin Crenshaw was signed and is now headed to Mexico. The team lost Spencer Jones and Nick Belzer to affiliate teams and Manager George Tsamis has been scrounging to try to fill spots to keep his bullpen from being overused. Two of the top three appearance leaders are from St. Paul and that cannot persist if this team is going to stay atop the division.
What Went Right
It has seemed that every move that Manager George Tsamis has made has come up gold. The team has some serious question marks about their starting pitching staff, but Jake Matthys and Ryan Zimmerman have both been great on the backend of the rotation, combining to go 11-4. They lost Schmit and Wong and he came up with Chris Baker who has a .294 batting average with 13 RBI in nine games. It is amazing that this team lost the guy who was going to be the MVP in Max Murphy, yet still leads the North.
It says something about a team that can lose a guy like Murphy, yet still go 13-7 in July. Brady Shoemaker has stepped up, hitting .330 with 13 homers and 48 RBI. Dan Motl has been the surprise of the season, going from a role player to a guy competing for the batting crown. Catcher Jeremy Martinez was the last player signed by the team heading into Spring Training and he has put together an All-Star season, hitting .292. The Saints lead the American Association and run scored the season.
Mid-Season MVP: Brady Shoemaker
In the absence of Murphy, Shoemaker has made his presence known in a big way. Shoemaker is hitting .330 in 59 games with 42 runs scored, 17 doubles, 13 homers, and 48 RBI. He is fifth in the league in hitting, third in RBI, third in walks (42), and second in on-base percentage (.451). At a time when his team has needed him the most, he has raised his average 27 points since the beginning of July.
Mid-Season Top Pitcher: Eddie Medina
Medina has taken hold of the ace spot in this rotation and has proven that he deserves a shot at affiliate ball. Medina is 6-1 with a 2.9o ERA, ranked fourth in the league. The right-hander was spectacular early on. After giving up four runs in the first inning of the season opener, the right-hander went 31 innings without allowing a run.
In 68.1 innings this season, he has allowed just 50 hits, but 40 walks. He has struck out 64.
The Saints success is going to depend totally on the starting pitching. The bullpen has been spectacular and the team knows how to score runs, leading the league in runs scored. The starting pitching should be enough, although the loss of Crenshaw was a big one. The team will make the playoffs, but they will not win the division.
By Robert Pannier