The AAA Tacoma Rainiers played their final home game of the season on Sunday, beating the Las Vegas 51′s 2-1.
Alex Liddi hit a homer in the first and Carlos Peguero hit one in the 2nd (on an 0-2 pitch). Carlos Triunfel used his speed to beat out an infield single. Liddi also had a double that he absolutely pounded, but was picked off.
D.J. Mitchell (who Keith Law labeled as an “up and down reliever”) was pretty solid overall, making up from not having his best fastball command by throwing his curveball for strikes to get some outs. He was defying logic in the first 4 innings, giving up no runs while walking one (and hitting another) and striking out just one. His control absolutely eroded in the 5th, and he finally gave up a run on a single but the 9 hitter Brian Bocock (Scott Savastano did a good job in left field to keep a 2nd run from scoring on the hit). Another baserunning blunder by Las Vegas turned into an out at home and the 2nd infield fly-ball of the inning got Mitchell out of it. He continued the theme of weak contact in the 6th, getting a 1-2-3 inning and Luke Hughes ball to center-field was the only thing that could remotely be called “hard contact”. The 7th inning began with a quick walk to Kevin Howard (9.7 BB% and .769 OPS with a 18.2 LD% this year in Las Vegas). He got the next hitter to ground-out but was taken out for Bobby Lafromboise. He fooled hitters with his breaking stuff and got 2 fly-outs to Darren Ford. He made Anthony Gose look really bad to start the next inning, getting him to strikeout on a changeup. He had no problems when he didn’t have the platoon advantage as well, getting Jonathan Diaz to strikeout. His fastball got up to 90 MPH when he used it to set up Yan Gomes for an off-speed pitch to strikeout the side. The Rainiers decided to bring him back out for the 9th and Lafromboise rewarded them by getting all 3 outs quickly.
Ending the home portion of the season also meant award time:
Luis Jimenez was named the hitter of the year for the Rainiers. The 30 year old played the whole season for Tacoma, mainly at DH (with a few bad games at first sprinkled in). He was 2nd on the team in OPS (just one point behind Carlos Peguero!) at .929 with a .213 ISO (all numbers are before Sunday’s game). He had a decent LD % at 15.1 and a solid K/BB (18.1 % to 12 %). The .361 BABIP is most likely unsustainable, especially with his (lack of) speed and the amount of grounders he hit (just over 50%). Of course, awards aren’t about sustainability, but player evaluations are. Does Jimenez deserve a call-up in September? The biggest obstacle is the fact that he is not on the 40-man roster, meaning someone would have to be DFA’d to bring him up. I’ll write an article before September begins on what I would do with the 40 man roster.
Carlos Triunfel was named the best defensive player. While there are virtually no defensive metrics for the minors (besides basic ones like fielding percentage and range factor, which can be extremely misleading), Tacoma was not a good defensive team this year. Trayvon Robinson made some really nice plays in the outfield, but had a couple of blunders as well, and played in 83 games for Tacoma versus Triunfel’s 123 (team leading). Trayvon is in the Majors anyway. Triunfel played both 2nd and short for the Mariners and made some really nice plays but also some mind-numbingly bad plays. There is talent there defensively, but it hasn’t come together for him completely yet. Darren Ford has quite a bit of range in center, but thanks to a hotel door, he has played in just 61 games this year.
Bobby Lafromboise was named the best pitcher. This was certainly the most surprising one, but he definitely pitched like he deserved it on Sunday. While he has certainly been good (1.47 ERA/2.47 FIP/3.91 SIERA), he is a reliever that has thrown just 34.1 innings. Josh Kinney was slightly better according to Defensive Independent Metrics in a couple more innings, but he was promoted to the big leagues. The starting rotation was so awful in the first half of the year (over half have been released) that it made it really easy to give it to a delivery. According to SIERA (1.41!), Brian Moran is certainly a guy that could be called Tacoma’s best pitcher (about the same amount of innings as Kinney and Lafromboise). Other than that, there just isn’t a lot of good candidates (perhaps D.J. Mitchell according to just ERA, but he joined the team late as well and didn’t have a lot of innings).