Week 20: the End of the Season
Week 20: Normally, this is the time to look back at the whole year now that the season is finished. That will come soon. But for now, this is just a look back at the final week of the season: week#20. For those of you still looking for week#19, you can stop looking. It didn’t happen. Those who like to catch up on transactions, you will find those from week 19 & 20 covered here. Now, on to week 20.
Week 20: What happened?
First of all, week 19 happened. Or rather didn’t happen. So what happened? In the week prior, week#18, someone from the Tri City organization was near someone who had Covid-19. Once this person infected with the virus was identified, contact tracing kicked into gear and it was discovered that someone from the Tri City club was near enough to be potentially infected.
I have no word on whether this infection was passed on to this person or not but because it was possible, isolation kicks into gear. Branching out like a tree, the contact tracing drew in enough possible infections to make baseball inoperable until the team or staff had been cleared. This means testing to see if the virus was passed on and isolation to make sure it didn’t spread.
This process usually involves a certain amount of time spent in isolation and the test. In order to “pass the test”, or in other words have the results be negative during the period of isolation, you must take the test more than once. On average, one positive test result means you are potentially infected. Another test is conducted soon after to remove the possibility of a false positive. However, in order to be declared not infected, you must have two consecutive negative results in a row over a period of days.
Obviously all of this takes time. The last two games of week#18 were canceled. All of week 19 was canceled. And then, the first game of week 20 was canceled. With the Dust Devils’ opponent, the Eugene Emeralds in a tight playoff race, that one game could make a difference.
However, according to the official league website, The top two teams will be “decided for each league … based on the best regular season winning percentage.” This means that the teams may not necessarily play an equal amount of games, among other things.
For Now, Let’s Look at the Games Played in Week 20:
note: click on “Game#” for box score, “Hops Win (or lose)” for my game recap.
Week 20: Game#1 Hops Win 7-4
Collin Sullivan didn’t allow a run or hit until the fifth inning. By then, Sullivan was covered by four Hops runs against the two Vancouver runs allowed. After that, it was a tennis match between the Hops leading by two or leading by four. Ronny Simon hit the game’s only home run to start the scoring for both teams. The Hops lead the series 1-0.
Week 20: Game#2 Hops Win 3-2
Cam Coursey returned and immediately hit the Hops’ first hit, scored the Hops’ first run and gathered two walks for an on base percentage of .750. Not bad for your first day back from a vacation on the 7-day injured list. Justin Vernia is now 2-0 against the Vancouver Canadians in his last two games pitched against them. The Canadians put runners on second and third in the ninth with two outs with one run already in. Even better than a cup of coffee to make sure you are awake. Hops lead the series 2-0.
Week 20: Game#3 Hops win 7-3
The deciding factor here was the four-run eighth inning. Before that, the Hops would score a run or two and the Canadians matched the next inning. Like a little brother, the Hops couldn’t ditch them. Until the Hops ditched them with a four run inning. Elian Miranda was a big factor going 3 for 3 and adding three RBIs. Kyler Stout struck out the side in the eighth and Yaramil Hiraldo struck out two of his three batters in the ninth. Hops lead series 3-0.
Week 20: Game#4 Hops win 4-2
The Hops made a sandwich out of this game. With two pieces of bread (Vancouver single runs in first and seventh) covering two slices of meat (Hops two runs each in the fourth and sixth). The Hops’ pitching staff even included some mustard (twelve strikeouts). Tristin English went 1 for 3 including an RBI double and scoring twice. Nick Dalesandro followed Tristin with an RBI double of his own. Axel Andueza put the winning cherry on top with a two run single in the sixth. Gerald Ogando struck out the side in the sixth and Liu Fuenmayor closed with three strikeouts to put the icing on the cake. Hops lead the series 4-0.
Week 20: Game#5 postponed due to inclement weather.
This game will not be made up since Sunday is the last game of the season and the missing game will have no effect on who makes the playoffs. The silver lining in all of this is the Hops hold onto fourth place by one and a half games over Vancouver with only one game left to play. In other words, the Hops now own fourth place. It belongs to them. The only question remaining besides who will take first is will the Hops be allowed to play their final game of the season or will the rain end it prematurely? Hops lead the series 4-0.
Week 20: Game#6 Hops lose 2-8
A five-run fifth was more than the Hops could handle. That and Eric Rivera who seemingly scored every time he came to the plate. Take those two elements out of the game and the Hops would have won 2-1. But, what ifs don’t have their own stat column and therefore do not exist. The Canadians won this one fair and square. Shumpei Yoshikawa struck out nine.
Hops for Week 20:
Looking at this week’s performances at the plate, the first thing you notice is the sharp drop off from the previous week. After maintaining higher averages, the Hops returned to the mean. No that doesn’t mean angry, it means returning closer to normal.
Some of the drop off is to be expected due to missing Saturday’s game because of inclement weather. However, that doesn’t explain the percentages. Let’s look at them one by one.
At the Plate
Plate appearances dropped by 29. The average for a team is in the 30’s so if they had that extra game, they would have seen an increase. That is a sign of more base runners. Runs dropped from 27 last week to 23 this week. That is pretty close to what it should be. The previous week, the team averaged 4.5 runs per game. This week, they averaged 4.6 runs.
Hits went from 51 down to 33 this week. That’s going from an average of 8.5 to 6.6 hits per game. Losing two hits each game is a larger difference than just two. Unless, it is made up in other areas. RBIs had a huge drop from 27 to 17. By percentage, it should have only dropped to around 23 RBIs for the week. Curiously, the number of runs for this week was 23. That is a sign of poor fielding by the other team allowing the Hops to maintain their scoring with less hits.
In the power department, doubles (7) and home runs (2) stayed the same from week to week. With one less game, that is pretty good. Triples even increased by one to three for the week. However, total bases remains the best stat to look at the whole picture. This week, the Hops dropped from 66 to 54. Again, the percentage drop should be around 55. One less in the power department is close enough. The difference is the result of singles dropping from 41 in six games down to 21 in five games. Percentage-wise, that translates to 6.83 down to 4.2 singles per game.
The most common line up this week would have featured the following: Axel Andueza-C, Tristin English-1B, Ronny Simon-2B, AJ Vukovich-3B, Blaze Alexander-SS, Leodany Perez-LF, Jorge Barrosa-CF, Nick Dalesandro-RF and Elian Miranda-DH. This is based on plate appearances and not what position they most played. Filling out the roster is Cam Coursey returning from the 7-day injured list and newcomers Elijah Greene, Jose Curpa and Luvin Valbuena.
Scoring is pretty well spread around. Two batters, Vukovich and Andueza, led the way with four runs each. Three more, Alexander, English and Dalesandro were right behind them scoring three times each. With those five, you are looking at the heart of the order: 3-7. That is mostly where the RBIs center but this time, they led in touching the plate as well.
In the hit and batting average department, Axel Andueza was the hottest Hop of the week. Doubling the second best on the team, Andueza knocked eight hits out and led the team with a .400 batting average. Elian Miranda (.300) was the only other Hops to hit at least .300 this week. Three other Hops tied for second with four hits each: Barrosa, Vukovich and Dalesandro.
Axel Andueza was Busy During the Week
In the department of RBIs, Axel Andueza was not only the hottest Hops but also the busiest. Along with being tied for the most runs scored (4), he also knocked four of them in himself to lead the team. Simon and Miranda followed closely with three RBIs each.
Six Hops hit doubles this week. Five of them had one while Dalesandro hit two. Three Hops had one triple: Vukovich, Alexander and Miranda. Only two Hops belted a home run: Simon and Vukovich. Totals bases was led by Vukovich and Andueza. AJ powered by his homer and triple. Andueza powered by his eight hits, one of them being a double.
Week 20: On the Mound
Pitching, on the other hand, increased from the six-game previous week to the current five-game week. And not just with percentage but totals as well. The Hops bettered themselves by winning four out of the five games while the week before, they only won three of the six. The four game winners this week are: Collin Sullivan, Justin Vernia, Jose Santamaria and Kai-Wei Lin. That is an even split between two starters and two relievers.
ERA improved by quite a bit, from 3.98 to 3.47. Partially because of six relievers who did not allow a run this week: Liu Fuenmayor, Nick Snyder, Kyler Stout, Yaramil Hiraldo, Kai-Wei Lin and Bobby Ay. Justin Vernia, recently promoted to the Sod Poodles – see below, pitched a 1.50 ERA to lead the starters. Three other starters delivered a respectable ERA in the 3’s: Jake Rice (3.00), Collin Sullivan (3.60) and Kyle Backhus (3.60).
Strikeouts increased with one less game from 49 Ks in 52 IP to 56 in 44 IP. The increase was led by starter Shumpei Yoshikawa who struck out nine batters in 4.1 innings. Kyler Stout struck out the side in the eighth inning of game#3 as did Gerald Ogando in the sixth inning of game#4. Liu Fuenmayor and Mailon Arroyo proved to be a near unstoppable combo averaging over two strikes per inning.
Yoshikawa performed the rare feat of striking out four batters in one inning. His second K of the first inning allowed the batter to reach base on a wild pitch. No worries though. Shumpei easily struck out the next batter to end the inning. In fact, Shumpei struck out five consecutive batters from the end of the first and into the start of the second.
The Week 20 Season:
I will be giving a larger in depth look at the 2021 season next Tuesday. But, for now., just a brief look at the jockeying of statistical leaders.
With eight hits this week, Axel Andueza (77) jumped over Tristin English (73) in the hits department. In the last month of the season, Andueza has gone 27 for 70 and a .385 batting average. He jumped his average from .236 to .273 in that time.
AJ Vukovich is No Longer “the New Guy”
AJ Vukovich maintained his lead in average for active players by upping it to .298 this week. Even though AJ has only been here for a month and a half, playing regularly in the lineup over that time and achieving 121 plate appearances in 30 games, I figured he can toss the “new guy” label away.
At the same time, AJ has upped his OPS to .752 which jumped him over Jorge Barrosa (.737) for the lead. Everything else stayed pretty much the same. Including Blaze Alexander and his five categories: games (92), plate appearances (339), runs (60), walks (44) and total bases (123). However, he did lose a sixth category (hits) to Jorge Barrosa.
Tristin English kept the lead in RBI (48). Barrosa is still on top in doubles (18). Cam Coursey in triples (5). And English and Alexander in (active) home runs (10).
Week 20 Transactions:
9/7 RHP Marcos Tineo placed on the 7-day injured list.
The earliest he could come back was the 14th, or the first game against Vancouver in week 20.
9/8 RHP Wesley Rodriguez promoted to the Amarillo Sod Poodles.
Wesley mainly appeared as a reliever and some-time closer. Along with Kyle Stout and Nick Snyder, Wesley was considered among the top middle relievers. He amassed five holds, 42 strike outs and maintained a 3.45 ERA.
9/8 LHP Jake Rice promoted from the Visalia Rawhide.
Joining the Diamondbacks in late July, the Diamondbacks drafted Jake in the ninth round of this year’s draft out of Kennesaw State. In mid August, he moved up to the Rawhide mainly as a setup man or closer. He appeared in four games achieving results in all of them: two wins, one loss and one save. In 14 innings, he struck out 19 batters and maintained a 3.14 ERA. A month later, he arrived in Hillsboro with eleven days left in the season.
9/8 RHP Jose Santamaria promoted from the Visalia Rawhide
Out of the Dominican Republic, the Diamondbacks signed Jose as a free agent and he spent 2018 and 2019 in the DSL Rookie leagues, starting at the age of 19. After the pandemic, Jose started 2021 with Visalia. While there, he appeared in 20 games with a 2-4 record, 26 strikeouts (30 IP) and a 5.10 ERA.
9/8 LHP Denson Hull promoted to the Amarillo Sod Poodles
Denson drafted in 2019 by the Diamondbacks in round 28 out of Creighton. He spent all of 2019 with the former Missoula Osprey (now Paddleheads). After the pandemic, he started the season with the Hops and spent nine days before transferring down to the Low A Rawhide. A month and ten days later, he worked his way back up to the Hops.
While a Hop, Denson appeared in 19 games mostly as a mid-reliever or setup man. He managed to strike out 21 batters in 21 innings pitched with a 6.00 ERA. His record was 0-3. Recently, Denson struck out all three Eugene batters he faced on August 13th.
9/14 2B Cam Coursey activated from the 7-day disabled list
Cam placed on the 7-day injured list on 9/4. The Hops’ 2021 season leader in triple with five (5), Cam is one triple away from tying Yan Sanchez (2017) for a share of the team lead in triples in one season. Since Cam hit three triples in three consecutive game days this year, it is more than possible.
In Cam’s absence, Ronny Simon has been playing second base.
9/20 RHP Justin Vernia promoted to the Amarillo Sod Poodles
Vernia started with the Hops at the beginning of the season. He spent most of the month of May with the Sod Poodles and now returns there. While here, Justin was among the team leaders with 56 strikeouts.
Look Forward: Empty Nest Syndrome
After the season, it is time for players to go home to their friends and families or get ready for the fall and winter leagues. That means players, coaches and some staff will leave and new players, coaches and some staff will replace most of them. Some of the old veterans from 2021 will return in 2022.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll be going through the schedule for the 2022 season. It is already out as we speak. But, we don’t need a schedule to tell us all of what we can look forward to.
For the offseason, we get 200 days of waiting for the next season. In the meantime, I will still be writing. Next week, I want to talk about the season as a whole instead of just the last week. After that, I will look at the 2022 schedule the following Tuesday. After that I plan on keeping a monthly schedule on the first Tuesday of each month. In the monthlies, I will keep us up to date on any news of the Hops along with former Hops. There are usually transactions in December but they can happen at any time. February can be another active month.
Where Are They Now?
I will also do a look at Where Are They Now? Each year will be gone over to see who is still playing and where along with how they have done.
The next season will start a month earlier in April and still end in September. This year, only 120 games scheduled. Next year, the Hops will start the full schedule of 132. Why only 120 this year? Because MLB delayed spring training for the minor leaguers so they wouldn’t be crowded with the major league players. All due to Covid-19 precautions.
I have a feeling the off-season will go by fast as it always does. Before we know, it will be time to meet the coaches, then the players. Pretty soon, the games will start and we will start this all over again. With as many changes as the world has gone through in recent years, it is good to have something to look forward to and count on. Even if we have to wait. And after waiting a year to see the 2021 season, 200 days until 2022 won’t seem that long.