Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Durham Bulls in 2013 — Hitters — Part 2

Players in this version of the 2013 hitters’ table are sorted by wOBA. See previous post for the table sorted by 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 and Fangraphs. Players discussed in order of games played.

Hak-Ju Lee*
Wil Myers
Vince Belnome*
Leslie Anderson*
Brandon Guyer
Luke Scott
Kevin Kiermaier*
Tim Beckham
Cole Figueroa*
Mike Fontenot*
Jason Bourgeois
Juan Apodaca
Shelley Duncan
Chris Gimenez
Rich Thompson*
Ryan Roberts
Evan Frey*
Craig Albernaz
Jesus Flores
2013 Durham Bulls Hitters
Sorted by wOBA

Jason Bourgeois, besides having the most difficult name to spell correctly, added quite a bit to the team this year and not all of it shows in the stats. First of all, at the beginning of the year he was a speedy outfielder who, along with Rich Thompson, could cover left and center and steal bases (22 on the year). This base running speed made up for Durham’s lack of power throughout the year. He and Thompson helped limit the damage from Wil Myers’ surprising lack of skill in right field in the early part of the season. He got to play in 9 games with the Rays late in the season, but there was no public bid for his services as he passed through waivers on his way back. At 31, he needed perhaps a bit more to earn a call back for 2014. We’ll have to wait and see. Stats.

Shelley Duncan may have had his last hurrah as a baseball player with the Bulls this year. To be honest, we like just about everything about what we have seen from him over the years. But he seems to have lost a step and certainly was not the power hitter this year that he has been in the past. With over 300 major league games under his belt, he surely brought a depth of experience to the clubhouse and his enthusiasm with each win was visible. To get some insights into his approach to the game, take a look at two very fine articles (here and here) from this year’s Bull City Summer. 54 RBI is nothing to sneeze at. The Bulls needed every one they could get this year. At 33 is there a chance that he could be back? Maybe. Stats.

Wil Myers spent the early part of the season with the Bulls, playing in 64 games before moving on. (Note: that was more than Longoria's 38 games in late 2007/early 2008.) We won’t see him in the DBAP in a Bulls uniform again (unless it’s for a rehab assignment and we’d rather not see that happen). We admit that his first month or so was unimpressive when compared to the hype, but then we noticed his RBI numbers, which were substantial even early in the season, much less what he accumulated over his 64 games (57). Early awkwardness in right field smoothed out a bit, but needed work. At the plate he eventually showed all that was promised, hitting one of the longest home runs we’ve ever witnessed and 13 more to go with it. Note that even though he left the team in June, at the end of the season his 14 homers were tied for the team lead (with Anderson). We wish him well. We’ll be able to say we saw him way back when someday. Stats.

Jesus Flores ended up being the Bulls go-to catcher for much of the season. I think it’s fair to say that he would not have gotten quite as much playing time if the Bulls had not needed Gimenez in the outfield. Not much of a bat, but clearly an above average defensive catcher. And that’s what the Bulls needed after Myers departed and Thompson got hurt. Flores has 311 major league games, more than Duncan. So he was yet another veteran in the clubhouse, in his case working with several young pitchers. Honestly, I never paid much attention to him over the year. Maybe I should have. He might be at the bottom of the power heap, but he might be back even with that awful wRAA. Stats.

Rich Thompson had some seriously bad luck this year. First of all he started the season in a slump and then, just as he was coming out of it, he broke his foot and was out for the rest of the year. He was noticed in the stands of the Triple-A championship game and it sure sounded like he is on the verge of retiring. Too bad. One of the keys to the 2013 Bulls was speed. The Bulls stole 137 bases this year, up from just 74 in 2012. Of those 74 in 2012, Rich Thompson accounted for 29 of them. By the time of his injury on June 6, Thompson had picked up 22, and that with a not-very-good OBP of just .325 (not very good for Thompson, that is). At 34, we’ve got to guess that he won’t be back. Too bad. Stats.

Evan Frey was part of the scramble to find an outfielder in June and July. To that end he was helpful. At the plate, not so much. But he did his job. He also spent some time in Montgomery and came back to lend a hand at the end of the season. He’ll need to offer more promise at the plate if he’s to return. Stats.

Kevin Kiermaier was a welcome addition to the Bulls' roster near the end of the season. Needing a center fielder ever since Rich Thompson’s injury, 23 year-old Kiermaier joined the Bulls in late July and clearly had a good time. He’s a fun-to-watch fielder and quick on the base paths (7 stolen bases, 6 triples). He had a terrific combined season at AA and AAA. The best part for Bulls fans is that he is a solid candidate for a full year with the Bulls in 2014. That should be fun. Stats.

Ryan Roberts simply wasn’t much help to the Bulls even though he got a good bit of playing time in his many stays with the team. It’s fair to say, I think, that he came into 2013 assuming he had a shot at being a Rays’ regular, and he did play in 60 games with the Rays this year. But when the Rays needed to move Wil Myers up, it was Roberts who got optioned down. He bounced back up a few days later, hit two home runs, and was optioned back (all this in late June, early July). He then went back up to the Rays for late July/early August, but came back, this time in DFA circumstances, meaning he was off the Rays’ 40-man roster. Roberts had the most major league playing time of any Bull, 510 games over 8 years, but he simply didn’t add much to the team that we could see. Quite likely the highest paid Durham Bull this year ($2.95 million). Did not play, as far as I could tell, in the Bulls’ post-season. Stats.

Craig Albernaz remains one of our favorite ballplayers and he was responsible for our biggest single thrill of the season, his grand slam into the bull back on August 6 against the Rochester Red Wings. Hard to imagine, but catcher Albernaz has spent parts of 5 seasons with the Bulls, although this year was the only time he’s spent all of the season in a Bulls uniform. He is obviously a huge asset to the Rays system. Will he be back? Hard to say. My guess is that they will place him in the location in their system that they are most interested in developing pitchers. Note that he holds an ERA of 0.00 in his 3 games, 3 innings pitched in 2013, a significant improvement over his 2012 pitching performance. He’s reported to have been working on a cutter. Stats.

Juan Apodaca did a decent enough job for the Bulls this year, so we were a bit surprised that he was released in mid-July. At a guess, he was a casualty of the Rays’ apparent confusion over just what to do at the catching position throughout their system. We have to note that not one of the four catchers with the Bulls this year made it into the black on the wRAA stat this year. The one with the highest rating was Apodaca and he got released. Certainly there are a lot of ways of looking at catchers that we fans aren’t going to be able to evaluate. Apodaca came to the Bulls out of independent ball, but we have not been able to find out if he caught on anywhere for the rest of 2013. Stats.

Hak-Ju Lee was injured on April 20 ending what was a spectacular start to the season. The young Mr. Lee was simply doing it all: hitting, stealing bases, and playing a superb short stop. His advanced metrics were pretty (BB/K of 1.22). It would surely have been fun to watch him develop over the year. Because the Rays are being their usual selves and not informing anyone about his status, we can only guess that his surgery went well and that he is rehabbing right now. We can hope so, and we can hope that his recovery is successful enough for him to be with the Bulls next year. Stats.

Luke Scott visited the Bulls on a rehab assignment at the end of the year. Stats.

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