Monday, June 26, 2023

The Bulls at Mid-Season

The Durham Bulls played their 75th game yesterday. That marks the end of the first half of the 2023 season for the 20-team International League. 

How Did the Bulls Do?

Just OK. They ended up in 6th place in the league, 8½ games behind the Norfolk Tides, who won the first half of the season. Standings. Most of the season we saw a cluster of 7 or 8 teams near the top of the standings (all well below Norfolk), led by Iowa and St. Paul, who finished #2 and #3. 

Now there will apparently be a Great Reset of the won-loss numbers. We will have a new race to see who will win the second half of the season. Playoffs.

The Bulls peaked in early June when they hit 10 games above .500, but went south after that. Against Memphis, Charlotte, and Syracuse the Bulls won 7 and lost 11. So the reset will be welcome.

Beyond simple won-lost, how do the Bulls look?

75 games

Rank (of 20)













Fld %



Stolen Bases



Caught Stealing









At bat, not so good. Most notably, the Bulls strike out a lot—781 times in their 2907 plate appearances. That means roughly a quarter of the time a Bull comes to the plate, he strikes out. Yesterday was a good example, even though they won. Over 9 innings Bulls batters struck out 14 times. Every Bull in the game struck out at least once. In the 7th and 8th innings every Bull who came to bat struck out. Box.

Plus they have trouble running bases. They've stolen only a few in comparison to the rest of the league and were caught a lot.

Lastly, on the position player side, the Bulls are not fielding the ball all that well. Their .976 fielding percentage is 17th in the league. They've allowed 49 unearned runs, 12% of the runs scored against the Bulls.

Pitching is so-so. On the positive side, WHIP does stand out. It reflects the Rays' obsession with not allowing walks.

Speaking of the Rays, how are they treating the Bulls? Not bad. It's been worse. Mostly pitchers to and fro from St Petersburg to Durham and from Durham to Montgomery. 

Needs for the second half

  • Better plate discipline (improve OBP and BA, fewer Ks)
  • Slightly better pitching.
  • Get better at stealing bases.

How about the Automatic Ball & Strike System? 

I think I like it, especially when the challenge system is used. I noticed that some umpires are better at signaling what's going on to the crowd. Even then I couldn't always tell what was up unless I was listening to the radio. What about in the Major Leagues? Maybe.

But I can't pass up the opportunity to plead, again, for a four-umpire crew. 

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