Eastern League In A Box

Inspired by the “in-a-box” feature presented by Bill James in “The New Historical Baseball Abstract,” here is a review of some of the standout batting, pitching and fielding performances from the Double-A Eastern League in 2015.

See also: our Best Tools coverage for the EL, which attempts to be more prognostic in nature.

League Champion
Bowie (Orioles) defeated Reading (Phillies) three games to two in the finals.

Best Record
Reading (Phillies) went 80-61 (.567) and advanced to the EL finals, where they lost to Bowie in an elimination game.

Highest Average Attendance
Richmond (Giants) averaged 6,055 fans per game.


BATTING STANDOUTS

Aaron Atherr
Aaron Altherr (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

 

Best Offense
Reading ranks No. 1 in the EL with a park-adjusted OPS+ of 111. Team leaders: C Andrew Knapp (194 OPS+), 1B Brock Stassi (145) and RF Aaron Altherr (140).

Home-Field Advantage
Bowie featured the highest park factor in the EL at 125.

League MVP
Reading 1B Brock Stassi hit .300/.394/.470 (145 OPS+) with 15 homers and 90 RBIs in 133 games. He led the EL in doubles (32) and RBIs, while ranking second in on-base percentage and extra-base hits (48) and third in slugging.

Percentage Of .300 Hitters (Among Those Who Batted 300 Times)
11 percent (nine out of 82)

Batting Champion
Bowie 1B Trey Mancini hit .359 and is recognized as the EL batting titlist after the application of Rule 9.22(a). Even after penalizing Mancini with 29 hitless at-bats he would need to qualify, his adjusted average of .330 still bests that of Altoona SS/CF Adam Frazier, who hit .324. The same principle also awarded the EL slugging title to Mancini instead of Quincy Latimore.

Most Home Runs
Bowie RF Quincy Latimore and New Hampshire 3B/RF Ryan Schimpf, a pair of minor league veterans, paced the EL with 20 home runs. Latimore is 26 and Schimpf is 27.

Most Aggressive Baserunner
Reading CF Roman Quinn exercised his double-plus speed by attempting 29 steals in 39 tries, legging out six triples and scoring 44 runs in 58 games.

Most Power
Trenton RF Aaron Judge crushed 31 extra-base hits, including 12 home runs, in 63 games before a promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His home park in Trenton played as the third-worst for home-run production in the EL this season.

Best Switch-Hitter
The league’s top switch-hitter is also its No. 1 rate performer. Reading C Andrew Knapp hit .360/.419/.631 (194 OPS+) with 11 homers and 23 doubles-plus-triples in 55 games. His OPS exceeded 1.000 from both sides of the plate.

Top Power-Speed Player
New Britain SS Trevor Story hit 10 homers and stole 15 bases in a half-season in the EL. He finished the year with 20 homer and 22 steals.

Most Well-Rounded Player
Richmond 2B/SS Kelby Tomlinson made a successful big league debut this season, but before he reached San Francisco, he ranked above the league average (among those who qualified for our Top 20 Prospects) for power (70th percentile), walk rate (60th), strikeout rate (70th), average on balls in play (90th) and speed (80th).

Best Prospect Who Did Not Qualify For League Top 20
Reading CF Nick Williams hit .320 (31-for-97) with 11 extra-base hits in 22 games in the EL following his acquisition by the Phillies in the Cole Hamels deal with the Rangers.


PITCHING STANDOUTS

Terry Doyle (Photo by Cliff Welch)
Terry Doyle (Photo by Cliff Welch)

 

Best Pitching Staff
Bowie and its veteran pitching staff ranks first in park-adjusted ERA+ at 118. Team leaders: RHP Terry Doyle (210 ERA+), RHP Joe Gunkel (148) and Elih Villanueva (141).

Home-Field Advantage
Richmond played as the top pitcher’s park with a park factor of 80.

League Pitcher Of The Year
RHP Michael Fulmer spent four months with Binghamton and one with Erie, following his trade from the Mets to the Tigers for Yoenis Cespedes. He went 10-3, 2.14 in 21 starts with 116 strikeouts in 118 innings and a 1.10 WHIP. Fulmer led the EL in ERA and strikeout rate (8.9 per nine innings) while placing fourth in WHIP and opponent average (.228).

ERA Champion
EL pitcher of the year RHP Michael Fulmer recorded a 2.14 ERA.

Most Strikeouts
Harrisburg RHP Austin Voth struck out 148 batters.

Strikeout Artist
Altoona RHP Tyler Glasnow fanned 82 of the 248 batters he faced (33 percent). No other EL pitcher topped 26 percent, which was where Harrisburg RHP Joe Ross settled.

Control Artist
Harrisburg LHP Richard Bleier walked nine of the 404 batters he faced (2 percent).

Best Command
Harrisburg RHP Austin Voth recorded a +108 differential between strikeouts (148) and walks (40), indicating that batters struggled to handle his pitches even when located in the strike zone.

Tough To Square Up
Altoona LHP Steven Brault allowed only one home run in 90 innings.

Most Well-Rounded Pitcher
Altoona LHP Steven Brault, whom the Pirates acquired from the Orioles in February in the Travis Snider deal, ranked above the league average (among those who qualified for the Top 20 Prospects) for home run rate (90th percentile), strikeout rate (80th), walk rate (70th), opponent average (90th) and ground/fly ratio (60th).

Best Prospect Who Did Not Qualify For League Top 20
Reading RHP Jake Thompson appeared reinvigorated by his trade to the Phillies organization in July. He went 5-1, 1.80 with a 34-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in seven starts, though he fell a few inning short of qualifying for the EL list.


FIELDING STANDOUTS

Jorge Flores (Photo by Rodger Wood)
Jorge Flores (Photo by Rodger Wood)

 

Best Double-Play Combo
New Hampshire middle infielders led the EL in rate of double plays per game (.663) and still rate No. 1 even after adjusting for opportunity. The primary middle infielders for the Fisher Cats were SS Jorge Flores (55 doubles plays) and 2B Shane Opitz (29), though SS Kevin Nolan (32) and 2Bs Christian Lopes (21) and Jon Berti (19) also contributed.

• Bowie middle infielders recorded the best fielding average (.975).

Playmakers
Leaders at their position in total chances—or “touches"—per game. Minimum 70 games at position required (45 games for catchers). This is essentially range factor—to those familiar with that metric—plus errors.

Pos Player Team Org TC/G
C Rossmel Perez Bowie Orioles 8.79
1B Josh Bell Altoona Pirates 10.32
2B Max Moroff Altoona Pirates 5.11
3B Mitch Delfino Richmond Giants 3.18
SS J.P. Crawford Reading Phillies 5.33
LF Cam Perkins Reading Phillies 2.10
CF Jake Cave Trenton Yankees 2.60
RF Matt Newman New Hampshire Blue Jays 2.22

 

Armed And Dangerous
Potomac C Pedro Severino led the EL by throwing out 38 percent (36-for-95) of basestealers. The Nationals signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2010.

• Altoona RF Stetson Allie, a converted pitcher, led the EL with 16 outfield assists.

Freeze!
The pitchers who most tended to discourage baserunners from stealing bases, as measured by percentage of SB attempts per baserunner. Here we consider only starting pitchers who qualified for our Top 20 Prospects ranking (min. 50 baserunners, not counting home runs). An asterisk (*) indicates lefthanded pitcher.

Pitcher Team CS% ATT BR PCT
Joel Pineiro New Hampshire 50% 2 73 2.7
Josh Turley* Erie 20% 5 175 2.9
Terry Doyle Bowie 50% 4 105 3.8
Joe Gunkel Bowie 60% 5 131 3.8
Steven Brault* Altoona 25% 4 93 4.3

 

License To Steal
Conversely, here are the pitchers who tended to encourage stolen-base attempts, as identified by the methodology above. An asterisk (*) indicates lefthanded pitcher.

Pitcher Team CS% ATT BR PCT
Mike Clevinger Akron 25% 32 168 19.0
Tyler Glasnow Altoona 0% 11 58 19.0
Luis Diaz Portland 18% 39 216 18.1
Simon Mercedes Portland 24% 21 118 17.8
Gene Escat Bowie 32% 19 107 17.8

 

No EL pitcher saw more stolen-base attempts than Portland RHP Luis Diaz (39).

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