Monday, August 13, 2012

2012 Cape Cod League Standouts: Falmouth Commodores

The Falmouth Commodores were more or less my home team this year. I attended 26 games this season; twelve of them were Commodore home game. Fourteen had Falmouth as one of the two teams. Part of it was their position as underdogs; they haven’t won a Cape League title in 32 seasons now, eleven years longer than the next longest drought. The Commodores got off to a strong start, and it looked like this might be the year they finally changed that. Unfortunately, injuries hit them at the wrong time; they fell to third place in the Western Division on the final day of the season (finishing 21-23), and were swept by the Wareham Gatemen in the first round of the playoffs. They definitely had bright spots in 2012, though.

Center fielder Jared King (#24) was the first member of the team that I covered. The Kansas State sophomore came with pre-season acclaim-Keith Law named him an early player to watch for the 2013 draft-and he lived up to it until a back injury struck, eventually forcing him to return home. He finished the season with a solid .308/.362/.486 line (average/on-base percentage/slugging) through 25 games, with 10 doubles and 3 home runs. That OPS is a solid (non-park adjusted) 31% better than league average.* He also flashed some speed, going 5 for 5 in stolen base attempts.

It’s also worth noting that, prior to a week before his final game, he had been hitting as well as .376/.436/.588, or an unadjusted 183 OPS+. He might not have been able to sustain that, but considering his injury, he may well be closer to that figure than the 131 final mark.

*It’s worth noting that Falmouth played as a definite hitter’s park this year, but it’s been closer to neutral in the past. The truth is that it’s probably a slight hitter’s park, but that doesn’t mean his hitting wasn’t impressive.

After King left, Drew Dosch (#28) cemented himself as the undisputed best hitter on the Commodores in 2012. The Youngstown State sophomore started the year as the team’s designated hitter, but eventually wound up claiming his normal position at third base. He was the team's triple crown winner, with a .326 average, 8 home runs, and 30 RBI. He was also the team slash line leader, with a .377 on-base percentage and a .537 slugging percentage. That's good for 48% above league average. All in all, this summer was a very solid showing, particularly when you realize Dosch started the season as a temp and ended as one of Falmouth's two All-Stars.

While King and Dosch were clearly the stars of the Commodores, there were plenty of other solid contributors with promise. University of Michigan sophomore and corner outfielder Michael O’Neill (#10, nephew of Paul O'Neill) carried a good .262/.346/.409 batting line while leading the team with 16 steals in 20 chances. That included six doubles, 3 triples, and four home runs, demonstrating both his power and speed.

Oregon State sophomore Jake Rodriguez (#13) hit .273/.313/.455, which put him third on the team in OPS. He also played all over the infield, spending time at second base, third base, and (primarily) catcher.

Freshman Casey Turgeon (#20), second baseman from the University of Florida, held his own after a slightly delayed arrival. He put up a .261/.339/.387 line through 29 games, and could be an important part in the 2013 edition of the Commodores.

The Commodores ran out a very solid rotation and bullpen for most of the year. Leading the way was team ace Craig Schlitter (#8). Schlitter is a right-handed sophomore out of Bryant University, making him also eligible for next year’s draft. His 2.72 ERA was sixth in the league, while his 5-2 record put him third. He showed brilliant control, too, ending the season with 41 strikeouts in 43 innings against only 8 walks and 2 home runs allowed. That helped him finish with a 1.020 WHIP, a 2.36 fielding independent pitching mark (reads like ERA, but tries to control for defense), and an opponent batting line of .231/.274/.310. For some league context, that’s a 156 ERA+ and an opponent OPS+ of 60.*

*Also, for reference, assuming that I'm right and WHIP works the same way as ERA, Schlitter’s WHIP was 36% better than league average.

Rice right hander John Simms (#29) started the year as the Falmouth closer, but finished the season as another solid arm in the rotation. In 26.2 innings, he only had a 4.05 ERA. However, his peripherals seem to indicate that some of that may be bad luck-struck out 31 and walked only 12. With a better luck on home runs (his 5 allowed in only 26.2 innings seems a little fluky, especially with the league-wide power spike), he should do better. He definitely has the raw stuff to succeed, as I pointed out last time.

Righty Trey Masek (#16) was the team's other representative in the All-Star Game, as well as their leader in strikeouts with 47. The Texas Tech sophomore also allowed 15 walks in 39.2 innings, leading to a 3.18 ERA, a 1.310 WHIP, and a .248/.311/.362 opponent batting line. On the more advanced side, his numbers translated to a solid 133 ERA+ and a 3.50 FIP.

Finally, there were some promising young arms in the bullpen. Kyle Ruchim (#9), sophomore from Northwestern, is listed on the team roster as an infielder, but ended up being a valuable late-inning arm. In 15 appearances, he racked up 18.1 innings and a nice 33/10 K/BB ratio to go with his 1.250 WHIP and 1.47 ERA. He also didn’t allow a home run all season, impressive considering the league saw an all-time high in total homers.

Finally, freshman and Florida Gator Johnny Magliozzi (#4) was solid in limited action. In 17.1 innings, he held a 2.60 ERA, a 25/9 K/BB ratio, and a 1.210 WHIP. Opponents hit only .194/.306/.339 off of him. The right-hander might be an important starter for the Commodores next season-he certainly looked good enough to have a rotation spot on the 2013 roster.

And sooner or later, they will end their title drought. 2013 might finally be the year.

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