The Bulls at 31 wins and 41 losses are in third place in a very weak South Division. The good news (?) is that a solid run towards a .500 season might get them to the playoffs. Of course, that's exactly what Gwinnett, Charlotte, and Norfolk must be thinking.
Runs differentials are a good metric to watch and here the Bulls are really in trouble. If you crunch this difference (currently -61) through Bill James' Pythagorean Expectation formula you come up with an "expectation" that things should be even worse — a won-loss record of 29-43.
How does the current run differential compare to previous years? It is approaching that of 2012, the worst year in the Triple-A Durham Bulls history.
Twenty-five ballplayers have stepped up on the mound for the Durham Bulls this year. Two of them (Mayo Acosta and Dayron Varona) were position players. The performance of all of them is charted below. The team ERA of 3.67 is tied for 8th place in the 14-team International League. They strike out a lot of people, 654, and lead the IL in that category.
Until recently, the starting crew was doing exceptionally well. However, during this last road trip the starters were getting steadily worse.
The big issue with this year's Durham Bulls is the weak hitting. The Bulls batting average, .256, is league-worst, as is the team OPS, .643. Furthermore, the current trend is drifting downward.
Twenty different players have come to bat for the Bulls so far this year. None of them has been particularly impressive. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the performance of the "invitation to spring training/minor league contract" guys. These are the players who usually make a difference. So far in 2016, not so much. We're talking about players like Kyle Roller, Jake Goebbert, Dayron Varona and J.P. Arencibia. My impression is that Dayron Varona is doing better than his numbers show. He does have 30 RBI. We like him. Richie Shaffer, expected to be the big gun this year, has been disappointing. He would surely agree. An oddity in his numbers is that he leads the team in strikeouts (74) and comes close to leading the team in walks (33). Note that the leaders on this board have very few plate appearances.
This table is sorted by wOBA. The wRAA stat (Weighted Runs Above Average) gives a sense of what the player is contributing to the team in terms of runs.
Here's a way to understand the table. Note that the Bulls have a lot of "awfuls" and only one even "above average."