On Saturday night, the Chatham Anglers continued their three-game winning streak* that started during this game as they handily defeated the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, 9-4. There were several strong performances, on both teams, including Chatham’s starter Thomas Lawrence (who only left after 6.2 innings because of a line drive off of his foot). However, the clear star of the game was third baseman Chad Pinder, who homered twice and drove in four.
*Now a four game winning streak with their defeat of Falmouth on Sunday; Pinder sat Sunday’s game out.
Pinder, who hails from Poquoson, Virginia (near Virginia Beach) and idolizes fellow third baseman Chipper Jones, just finished his sophomore year at Virginia Tech. Pinder says he chose the college for both the coaching staff of the team and its home-like atmosphere. He’s so far rewarded them with two highly successful seasons. As a freshman, Chad hit .317 with 3 home runs, a .368 on-base percentage, and a .510 slugging percentage through 27 starts and 37 games. This past school year, after a summer in the Coastal Plains League, Pinder was even better. While taking on a full time role (he started in 53 of his team’s 55 games), he hit .325/.380/.538 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 7 home runs and 37 RBI. His strong performance had Cape League teams inquiring Virginia Tech about him as far back as the fall. The Anglers, however, added him first.
The organization apparently has a good eye for third baseman-Chad Pinder’s play so far has inspired a lot of comparisons to Evan Longoria, who played with the team back in 2005. Both his bat and his glove have elicited praise from people in the organization. His summer hasn’t been entirely smooth so far, though; a hernia has limited his playing time and left him so he “just [doesn’t] feel 100%”. You wouldn’t know it from his play, though. He leads the Anglers in two of three Triple Crown categories (home runs with 4, and RBI with 25) despite his missed time, and he’s second on the team in average, just behind Andrew Knapp (.281 to .278). He’s also carrying an .877 OPS (.345 OBP, .532 SLG), or approximately a 133 OPS+. Yes, in spite of playing through a sport hernia, he’s hitting 33% better than league average. And, since that’s just a rough approximation, it doesn’t factor in that Chatham plays in a pitchers’ park, or Pinder’s stellar defense (he made several nice plays during Saturday night’s game). For further reference, he’s second on the team only to Knapp in Runs Created with 14.16, even with less playing time and an injury to play through.
Pinder has enjoyed his time playing on the cape, calling the time he’s spent in Chatham a “special experience”. He particularly has enjoyed the league’s use of wood bats, calling it a good way to test his hitting abilities. The Anglers hope to ride his and Knapp’s bats past the Harwich Mariners, who currently stand a game ahead of them in the standings. After that, you can likely look for him to lead the Hokies deep into the College World Series next year and make a splash in the draft.