Only 19 different ballplayers came to bat in a Durham Bulls uniform this year. Some quite a few times (Vince Belnome and Cole Figueroa at 533 plate appearances each), one (Luke Scott at 14) very few times. This year’s very low number of hitters hints at a real strength of the team — stability. Compare this year’s 19 to last year’s 32. In 2011 there were 25 different batters, 28 in 2010, 27 in 2009. This year was well below normal and, given their talent, that was a good thing.
Players are listed in the table are sorted by the number of games played. The less familiar stats such as weighted on-base average (wOBA) and weighted runs above average (wRAA) are explained at the links. Players with an asterisk are left-handed batters. Data sources are Baseball Reference.com and Fangraphs. See Part 2 for a version of this table sorted by wOBA.
2013 Durham Bulls Hitters
sorted by number of games played
sorted by number of games played
Cole Figueroa had his first full season with the Bulls (he played in 88 games in 2012) and had a very good year, mostly at third base. He undoubtedly was a key part of this year’s team. He showed excellent plate discipline. His walk to strikeout ratio was 1.8, one of the best on the team. In a perfect world it would be nice if he were just a step quicker. On the other hand, his 62 RBI, the third best on the team, were crucial to the Bulls. Is he just a young Mike Fontenot? Maybe. But we aren’t going to know until he gets some major league time. As Bulls fans we’d be happy to see him back on the team next year. Stats.
Vince Belnome was the all-around star of the 2013 Bulls. If his performance fell off a bit in the last few weeks of the season, he still had a career year and deserved the accolades he accumulated (All-Star, MVP). He led the team regulars in virtually every category and his importance shows through in his superb wOBA and wRAA stats. At the beginning of the year he played some 3B and even some 2B, but by the end he was essentially the Bulls regular first baseman, although he shared some time with Shelley Duncan. Belnome is only 25 years old, so going forward will certainly depend on his fit with the Rays, not the Bulls. He made a difference to the Bulls. Sure wouldn’t hurt to have him back. Stats.
Tim Beckham started the year at second base, clearly making way for the upcoming star, Hak-Ju Lee, at the shortstop position. It didn’t work out that way. Lee’s early and season-ending injury put Beckham in the shortstop position for the rest of the year where he was OK, but not spectacular. But that could be said for most of the Bulls this year. Beckham’s numbers are fine. His 51 RBI and 17 stolen bases were part of a winning package. He was one of the few Bulls position players on the Rays 40-man and he got his September call-up. At this writing he has appeared in 4 games, pinch-running, second base and shortstop. He’s 2 for 6. At a guess he will be back next year playing second base. In a perfect world, I’d guess the Rays want him to be showing a bit more plate discipline (BB/K of 0.41 isn’t very good if you’re not booming home runs). Stats.
Mike Fontenot was one of those guys who, from this fan’s perspective, came to work and did his job for the Bulls. From the stands there was always a hint that he was an infielder-in-waiting if someone got hurt down in St. Petersburg. At 33, he and Shelley Duncan were the senior members of the crew. 2013 was the first full year since 2007 that he has not had at least some time in the major leagues (He’s appeared in 583 major league games). His substantial amount of playing time is another reminder of how the injury to Lee changed the Bulls’ approach this year. Returning next year? At a guess, no. Stats.
Leslie Anderson has been a favorite of WDBB for the last couple of years and his performance has meant a lot to the team. This year he led the team in RBI. But this was also the year where a fundamental weakness against left-handed pitching came into view. At 31 and at the end of his original contract with the Rays, things are not looking good for his return. An interesting profile of his career as a Durham Bull is part of the Bull City Summer here. Unless something comes up, expect the Bulls to be looking elsewhere for power at the plate next year. Stats.
Brandon Guyer seems to have a cloud hovering over him. He’s sort of the Joe Btfsplk of the Rays system (although to be completely accurate, Joe Btfsplk actually brought bad luck to other people, not himself). Seems like we’ve been watching him a long time, ever since he came over from the Cubs system in 2011. And every time he’s about to break through something bad happens. This year he started slow and just when things seemed to be coming into focus his finger was broken. This year Guyer showed off his speed. And it was impressive. He had 22 stolen bases in his 98 games. Hard to say what he would have had if he’d had 10 or 20 more games. He was also a rare Bulls position player on the 40-man this year and he was subject to some bizarre end-of-season roster manipulations by the Rays that left a bad taste in our mouth. But if Guyer was able to spin it into a paycheck, then OK. It didn’t hurt the Bulls. I like him a lot. I really like having a right-handed bat that was a threat and a right-fielder who could play the position well. The 15.9 wRAA tells us he was a real asset to the team. He has also been profiled by Bull City Summer here. Stats.
Chris Gimenez has to be disappointed with his work at the plate this year and yet from the stands he sure looked to be a threat every time he came to bat. For a month and more the Bulls were starved for outfielders and Leslie Anderson and Gimenez spent a lot of time out on the grass. A catcher by trade, he only had 56 of his games in that position. He got a September callup and has been in 4 games so far at 1B, 3B, and catcher. He participated in an interesting discussion on pitching, also from Bull City Summer, here and here. Stats.