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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

CCBL Update: The Harwich Mariners' Murderers' Row (UPDATED)

The reigning champion Harwich Mariners stand 1 game out of second after Wednesday night’s 4-3 win over the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. Overall, it gives them a 9-2 record. There’s no question that their pitching staff has been great; entering Wednesday, the staff has a combined 3.11 ERA, which ties them for third in the league behind the Orleans Firebirds (2.31) and the Red Sox (3.01). On top of that, they’re second in the league in home runs allowed (4 through ten games), second in strike outs (106, two behind Y-D), and first in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP; 2.59). For as good as their pitching has been, their hitting has been even better.

Just to start with, through their first ten games, the Mariners had 18 home runs. That’s twice as many as the next closest team (a tie between Yarmouth-Dennis and the Falmouth Commodores). They have ten different players with a home run (through ten games-C.K. Irby joined that list Wednesday, in Game #11); the next closest is Falmouth with seven. That represents over 23% of the entire league’s home runs. Making this all the more impressive is that their home park, if anything, decreases offense, particularly home runs.

Leading the way is outfielder Phil Ervin (Samford 2014), who hit his sixth home run of 2012 Wednesday off of Ben Lively. That puts him on pace for 24 home runs this year. Obviously, he won’t keep up at that high rate-his 7.17 at bats per home run is incredibly high; for reference, it would rank second in MLB history, ahead of Mark McGwire’s 1998 season. However, that does put him well within reach of Lance Niekro’s Cape Cod League record (dating back to 1990) of 13. Just doing some simple estimations, with three quarters of the season to go, Ervin could see his AB/HR rate drop off all the way to over 16 and still break Niekro’s record. If nothing else, it should make for an exciting home run chase later in the year.

UPDATE: The data I was working with only covered from 1990 on. The actual league record is 22, set by Cory Snyder in 1983. However, that was back when the league was using aluminum bats. Since switching, the record is 16, held by Dave Staton in 1988. Using that as the record, Ervin would need to maintain a home run every 12.9 at bats to tie it and one every 11.7 to break it. And, for the sake of curiosity, if he were to go for 22, he would need one every 8.1 at bats to tie the record and one every 7.6 to break it.

The Mariners also have three of the league’s top four players in slugging percentage. Ervin leads overall, with an incredible .897 mark. Third baseman Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame 2014) is second at .800 (Jagielo is also tied for second in home runs behind his teammate with 3), and second baseman/outfielder Sam Dove (Georgia Tech 2013) is fourth overall at .676. And those are just the qualified batters. Outfielder Austin Wilson (Stanford 2014) has an incredible 1.250 slugging percentage through 4 games (including 2 home runs), and second baseman/outfielder JaCoby Jones (Louisiana State 2014) and catcher Brett Austin (North Carolina State 2015) have both impressed as well, slugging .667 through four games and .700 through three games, respectively.

This isn’t to say that the team is just a bunch of mashers, either. Seven players on the roster carry an OBP above .400-the aforementioned six, plus first baseman Brian Ragira (Stanford 2014). All-in-all, it gives the team an incredible seven players with an OPS greater than 1.000: Wilson (1.917), Ervin (1.375), Jagielo (1.236), Austin (1.162), Jones (1.128), and Dove (1.112). Ragira (.978) just misses. Shortstop Matt Reida (Kentucky 2014) has been impressive as well, with a .893 OPS rarely seen from a middle infielder.

As a team, this gives the team an .871 OPS that towers over both the rest of the league. For reference, second is the Y-D Red Sox with a .793 OPS, followed by the Cotuit Kettleers at .697. League average is .682. Yes, as a team, they are carrying an OPS that is over 127% of the league average. Just doing some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations, that gives them an OPS+ around 150. A 150 OPS+ is Jeff Bagwell/Miguel Cabrera territory. Relative to the rest of the league, the Harwich Mariners as a team are hitting like Miguel Cabrera. And that is how you overshadow what is easily a top-3 pitching staff.

1 comment:

  1. Also, I couldn't find a good place to work this into the article, but a quarter of the way through the season, Phil Ervin's OPS+ is around 300. I still can't quite get over that. 300!

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