Wichita Wingnuts Mid-Season Review: Wingnuts Wire
With an 8.5 game lead in the South Division of the American Association, the best pitching staff in the league, a solid group of hitters and eight players who were in the last week’s All-Star game, it is easy to see why the team is a little giddy about their position. The Wingnuts have the best overall record at 46-22, which has included a 12-game win streak at one point, and they look extremely tough to beat moving forward.
Wichita is third in the American Association in hitting with a .294 batting average, but they are first in runs scored with 391, and third in home runs with 58. They have an incredibly well-rounded attack, which is demonstrated by the fact that they also lead the league in stolen bases with 115, and are on pace to break the league record for most steals in a season by a team. The pitching staff is the best in the league with a 3.58 ERA and are tied for third in opponent batting average at .259. They do all the things that ensure that they do not hurt themselves, including being first in least amount of home runs allowed, and third in the least amount of walks issued.
Top Wingnuts Player: This is an extremely tough choice, considering that four players have made a case to be the top player for the Wingnuts at this point. IF Ryan Khoury is hitting .332, 12th in the league, and is second in the AA with 25 steals. He is also second in runs scored with 60. Carlo Testa is hitting .347, sixth in the AA, and has scored 54 runs, has 41 RBI and 18 steals. Jake Kahaulelio can also make a strong case, hitting .313 with 41 runs scored, 46 RBI and 13 steals. These are three outstanding players who deserve a great deal of accolades, but the Wingnuts Wire selects Brent Clevlen as the top player at the mid-season break.
Clevlen is hitting .338, eighth in the American Association, with 50 runs scored and 49 RBI. He also has nine home runs and 11 stolen bases, and has made no errors in center field. He is a great five-tool player who has helped the team to win in a variety of ways this season. He has been a star for the team, and is a big reason why they have been such a juggernaut so far this year.
Top Wingnuts Pitcher: This is another incredibly tough decision seeing that five pitchers have made a case to be considered the top pitcher on the team as well. Jason Van Skike has eight wins, and is second in the league with a 2.84 ERA. Jon Link has nine wins and a 3.17 ERA. Justin Klipp has won 6 games and is arguably the best No. 3/4 guy in the league. Alex Hinshaw has been lights out in the setup role, posting a 1.54 ERA in 26 appearances. These guys are all deserving of some consideration, but reliever Matt Nevarez has set himself apart from the rest.
In 29 appearances the 6-5, 250 pound right-hander is 4-0, with 18 saves. He has posted a microscopic 0.95 ERA in 28.1 innings, giving up just 20 hits and eight walks, while striking out 35. He has been just lights out for the team, and is making it impossible for teams to come back against Wichita.
Season Outlook: The Wichita Wingnuts are not a shoo-in to win the championship by any stretch of the imagination. They had a big losing streak following their 12-game winning streak and came into the break as a team under .500 in their previous 13 games. However, they are looking very solid, and have all the things a team needs to win. They have a rotation that is four deep, a great bullpen with a lights out closer, a spectacular lineup that can beat you with both power and speed, and a great manager. They are the team that should go all the way.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA