St. Paul Saints Mid-Season Report
Record: 48-22, First in North Division, Best Record in the American Association
It is hard to imagine a team following a record-breaking season where they won 74-games with nearly as much success, but Manager George Tsamis has the 2016 edition of the St. Paul Saints playing nearly as well. The team has led the North Division for every day this season but one. They won their first four series of the season, and have simply continued to roll.
This team has not had the impressive pitching staff that last year’s team had, but the Saints are still No. 1 in offense and they have scraped and clawed for every win that they have. There have not been a lot of easy wins this season, and that should bode well when the playoffs come around.
Mid-Season MVP: Alonzo Harris
For about the first month of the season it seemed that everyone in this lineup was hitting well. That is all but Harris. He struggled out of the gate, as his swing was just not coming to him. A little over a week into the season the Saints center fielder was hitting just .177 and he simply wasn’t the guy that led off for the team last season. To the rest of the American Association all that can be said now is “He’s Baaack!”
Harris has been the reason that this team has been as good as it has. The St. Paul center fielder has raised his average to .312 and has scored 50-runs and driven in 49-RBI…and he is the leadoff hitter. What has been most impressive has been his 12-homeruns which led to his selection in the homerun derby at the All-Star game. Harris has been so good that he has even batted cleanup for a stretch of games this season. While the power numbers have been impressive, don’t forget he leads the American Association in stolen bases as well. He may not just be the Saints MVP; he may win the league’s award.
Mid-Season Top Pitcher: Mark Hamburger
When Mark Hamburger was signed he was expected to anchor this rotation. The right-hander has not only anchored the staff but the whole organization is chained to him. Hamburger leads the American Association in wins (11), and his team has won 13 of his 14-starts. The righty has a 2.49 ERA, third best in the league and was the All-Star game starting pitcher. While his numbers have been impressive, it has been the way that he has pitched that has really been the difference. Hamburger works quickly and makes teams try to get hits against him. He has walked just 12 in 112-innings pitched and is the league’s top pitcher at this point.
At eight-games ahead of the Winnipeg Goldeyes coming out of the All-Star break, it is going to take a major collapse for this team not to win the North. For much of the season it seemed like Mark Hamburger and four other guys, but John Straka has looked good of late, and Dan Johnson had seven shutout innings against Lincoln before the break. If Robert Coe can avoid the walks, this team has a real shot at the title this season.
By Robert Pannier