Thursday, November 1, 2012

So How Did I Do? Lancaster JetHawks

In taking a long overdue look at how I did in predicting the the 2012 Astros minor league full season team results, I first looked at the Lexington Legends. Today let's look at the worst of my predictions - the Advanced A level Lancaster JetHawks.

OFFENSE

I wasn't overly concerned about the offense on this team despite the fact that they had big shoes to fill offensively as players such as Jose Altuve, Kody Hinze, Austin Wates, Adam Bailey and Jon Singleton had great success there in 2011, and ultimately I thought that the 2011 and 2012 teams would profile somewhat similarly. I predicted that George Springer, Telvin Nash and Domingo Santana would drive the offense, and they did exactly that as three of the top four RBI men on the team. I didn't anticipate, however, that Erik Castro was going to have such a terrific season and lead all of them in the RBI category.

I was expecting improvements from Jio Mier and Kiké Hernandez and they obliged as well, although Mier got sidetracked by injury for a large chunk of the season and Hernandez' walk rate took a hit. (Hernandez' 2012 numbers below are for Lancaster and Corpus combined.)

Jio Mier
.239/.345/.344 in 114 games in 2011
.292/.396/.409 in 46 games in 2012

Kiké Hernandez
.247/.341/.326 with 11 doubles, 0 triples, 2 home runs and 17 RBI in 62 games in 2011
.270/.314/.399 with 27 doubles, 7 triples, 6 home runs and 52 RBI in 123 games in 2012

One concern that I had, offensively, going in to the season was that Erik Castro and Rafy Valenzuela were the only lefty hitters on the team, but since they both had very good seasons and their ranks were supplemented with lefty Chris Epps in June (as well as Drew Muren and Andrew Aplin later in the season), it turned out to be a non-issue. Finally, I was hoping that Dan Adamson's numbers wouldn't fall off too drastically from his 2011 numbers at Lexington, but he was cut only four games into the season.

Ultimately, the offense stacked up this way:

2011 - .280/.352/.420 with 5.35 runs scored per game
2012 - .283/.353/.448 with 6.02 runs scored per game

PITCHING

I didn't really make any predictions as to how the pitching staff as a whole would fare in 2012 as compared to the 2011 team, but rather focused on the individual pitchers and my predictions didn't fall far from the mark.

As far as the opening day starting rotation, I was very optimistic about Bobby Doran going in to the season and looked for a big improvement from him. I didn't, however, anticipate that he would go all the way from 1-3 with a 9.04 ERA and a 2.010 WHIP in 2011 to a 14-6 record with a 4.00 ERA and a 1.284 WHIP in 2012, meriting a mid-season promotion. I was a little leery about Wes Musick pitching a full season at The Hangar, but with his quick promotion after only five starts, that became a non-factor (although, interestingly enough, he did have a 4.76 ERA and a 1.412 WHIP in two starts at The Hangar as compared to a 1.29 ERA and 0.857 WHIP in 3 starts on the road). I was pretty much on the money with R.J. Alaniz (6-2, 5.04 ERA, 1.390 WHIP) and David Martinez (9-5, 4.38 ERA, 1.335 WHIP) for whom I predicted modest success at Lancaster and with Zach Grimmett (3-6, 8.21 ERA, 1.776 WHIP) for whom I anticipated difficulty at Lancaster. I was concerned about Grimmett's extreme flyball tendencies in an unforgiving park, coupled with a fairly low strikeout rate, and my concerns were justified as he only made 10 starts and was moved to the bullpen for the bulk of the season.

In looking at the bullpen, I was right when I saw Lancaster as a bad fit for Gabriel Garcia (also an extreme flyball pitcher); Garcia ended up back in Lexington after only nine appearances at Lancaster. And I was wrong when I predicted that Brian Streilein would have the best season out of the 'pen; after putting up a 7.78 ERA and a 1.632 WHIP in 26 appearances, he was cut from the team in July. I also predicted modest success for Alex Sogard (he was promoted after only six appearances) and Jorge de Leon (who had a tough season after getting thrown into the starting rotation for a large part of the season) -- I'll take an incomplete on these two.

Ultimately, this is how the pitching stacked up:

2011 - 5.96 ERA/1.569 WHIP/6.64 runs allowed per game
2012 - 5.00 ERA/1.458 WHIP/5.61 runs allowed per game

OVERALL RECORD

I vastly underestimated how the Lancaster team would do. I didn't anticipate just how well they would  function as a team under Rodney Linares' leadership. This was a case where the whole was definitely greater than the sum of the parts because all of the parts worked together so well.

2011 Actual - 55-85/.393 win percentage
2012 Prediction - 60-80/.428 win percentage
2012 Actual - 74-66/.529 win percentage

Next up: Corpus Christi (next week)

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