Time to finally getting around to wrapping up the season.
Let's start with the position players, listed in order of number of games played. This is going to take a number of postings to get through, but the look back is fun.
Justin Ruggiano (28). With Bulls since 2007 (4 seasons). Numbers up from 2009. Strikeouts down. On Rays 40-man roster.
- Tied for most games (117), led in plate appearances (507). 15 HR, 70 RBI. 24 SB, BA/OBP/SLG: .287/.357/.453. wOBA .344. bRAA 3.4. Brief visit with Rays. Don’t think he had an AB while there. Post-season: 9 games, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB. Positions played, regular season: RF-63, CF-29, LF-26, DH-3, 3B-1 (2 errors on year).
- Justin has been on the Rays’ 40-man for a couple of years and has yet to be given an honest shot at playing for the Rays. At a guess, assuming the Rays let him go, he will be looking for employment elsewhere. Defensively, he is among the best we saw this year on any team and he is very fast on the bases. 70 RBI are nothing to sneeze at. He’s got the tools to be attractive somewhere else. But maybe he likes the Rays system.
Chris Richard (36), also with the Bulls since 2007. Numbers in every category up from 2009.
- Played 117 games in the regular season and accumulated some striking numbers. 20 HR, 79 RBI, 39 2B, .300/.390/.535, wOBA .395, bRAA 24.6 (!). Positions played: 1B-82, DH-25, LF-10, RF-1.
- Chris is under-rated as a first baseman. He only had 4 errors on the year (down from 7 in 2009) with a fielding percentage of .995. I don’t know how to chase it down, but I suspect he has to be among the best, if not the best, first baseman in the International League. His only competition might be 20 year old Freddie Freeman with the Gwinnett Braves who had a fielding percentage of .994 in 111 games at first, but he’s 16 years younger than Chris!
- What is Chris going to do? He seems to like it here in the Triangle. He sure is physically fit enough to play baseball with the youngsters. On the other hand, you’d think the local universities would be anxious to have him on their staff, or maybe a place somewhere in the Rays coaching system. Guess in this era you don’t have player/coaches. My hope is that he and the Rays can come to an agreement for another year.
Fernando Perez (27), with the Bulls almost all of 2008 (129 games), did not play most of 2009, numbers down in every category from 2008. On the Rays 40-man roster.
- Played 116 games with 426 plate appearances. 4 HR, 32 RBI, 24 SB, .223/.280/.299, wOBA .269, bRAA -24.2. Positions played: RF-43, CF-33, LF-42.
- By any measure, Fernando had an awful year. You have to think that he and the Rays will be coming to a new understanding over the winter. For those of us who enjoyed, actually thrilled, at watching him play in 2008 he is not the same player. A lot has changed, of course. He was working on his switch-hitting in 2008, but that has gone by the board. We can’t tell from the stands if his injuries of 2009 are still bothering him. What we can see is that his swing has been off all year and the sheer exuberance he seemed to show is not obvious to us in the stands. I’d guess that there’s a less than 50-50 chance that he’ll be back next year. But I sure would like to see the Fernando Perez of 2008 in a Bulls uniform again.
Angel Chavez (28), 2010 his first year with the Bulls. Numbers up in most categories.
- Played in 113 games. 9 HR, 55 RBI (6th best on the team), .275/.329/.387, wOBA .317, bRAA -7.4. Positions played: 3B-73, SS-39, 2B-4, 1B-1, DH-1, P-1 (ERA-0.00!)
- To oversimplify a bit, Angel started the year at shortstop and moved to third base after Hank Blalock moved on. He shared time at both positions with Elliot Johnson (SS), Dan Johnson (3B), and J.J. Furmaniak (SS). Chavez is a very good baseball player and he made major contributions to the team. About the only blemish on his record this year was his unfortunate tendency to hit into double plays. But that has to be something of a statistical anomaly or possibly a function of his place in the batting order. He doesn't seem to have great range and yet if the ball is near him he makes the play. An oddity was that he often didn’t seem to be playing all that hard and yet somehow the ball always got to the first baseman ahead of the runner. He doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s prospect list, which means that, if the Rays don’t have some hot shot infielder coming through the system, he might be back next year. If only for his fielding skills, we hope the Rays take a close look at Angel.
Elliot Johnson (26), with the Bulls since 2007 and on the Rays 40-man roster much of that time. Passed through waivers and signed minor league contract this year. By any measure, 2010 was his best season as a professional baseball player.
- Played in 109 games with 481 plate appearances. 11 HR, 56 RBI (5th best), 30 SB (2nd best), .319/.375/.475, wOBA .373, bRAA 14.8. Positions played: SS-64, 2B-16, LF-21, RFK-14.
- Back in 2008 we were unimpressed with Elliot’s play. In 2009 it seemed as if he spent a lot of time injured. But he sure blossomed this year. He won all sorts of awards, and deserved them. As a shortstop he seems to depend on his glove and his arm, and they serve him well. What was important to the Bulls this year was to have such a solid, dependable, and well above average player available to play so many positions. He hit with some power, got on base, and moved around the bases. His 72 runs scored was 3rd best on the team. My guess is that this was his last year as a Bull, and I regret that. Elliot’s off to play winter ball in Mexico and, I’d bet, to eventually sign a contract with an invitation to spring training with a very solid shot of playing in the majors next year. The oddity is that he’s a better ballplayer that some currently with the Rays (Jason Bartlett and Willy Aybar come to mind), but he’s not going to get a chance to prove it. We’ll try to keep an eye on him this winter.