Each week we run our “Top Performers” series, looking at the best pitchers and hitters from the previous week. This year we will also be recapping each month in order to award the Pitcher and Player of the month. Below are the top Runs Created* totals in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the month of May. The rankings include every hitter who had an at-bat for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, not including DSL teams, and with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. Players who spent time at different levels are counted multiple times, once for each level, rather than combining their stats.
*Runs Created is a stat created by Bill James used to estimate how many runs an individual contributes to his team. There are many formulas for runs created. For these purposes the basic formula is used. That formula is ((H + BB) * (1B + (2*2B) + (3*3B) + (4*HR))) / (AB + BB).
Player of the Month
Andrew Lambo has had an impressive season, and a very impressive month of June. He started off the year back in Altoona, which was the sixth year he’s spent part of a season in Double-A. This time around he was crushing the ball, hitting for a .291/.351/.559 line in 220 at-bats with 14 homers. Lambo finally got promoted to Triple-A in the month of June, after going 6-for-19 with a double and two homers in five games in Altoona at the start of the month.
The hitting didn’t stop in Triple-A. In fact, it increased. Lambo finished the month of June at the Triple-A level, combining for a .314/.410/.700 line with seven homers in 70 at-bats. In total he had a .315/.410/.697 line with nine homers in 89 at-bats in the month of June. For that reason, Lambo is the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month for the month of June.
The question now is whether Lambo can provide help in the majors this year. His at-bats are still limited, and you’d like to see more of him in Triple-A before a promotion to the majors. As I wrote last week, the Pirates are in a difficult situation with Lambo. Even if they call him up today, he won’t have enough time to really establish himself in the majors and give the team an upgrade in right-field that they can be comfortable with before the trade deadline. If they’re fine going with internal options, then Lambo could be an interesting replacement if Travis Snider continues to struggle, especially if Lambo keeps hitting.
At any rate, what Lambo has been doing is impressive. He was eligible for the Rule 5 draft this past year, was left unprotected, and went unclaimed. Now he’s a guy who needs to be added to the 40-man roster at some point this year, so that the Pirates don’t lose him to minor league free agency. They could deal him before that happens if they find an upgrade for right field. Either way, the short of it is that Lambo has re-established himself as a prospect. He might not be back to 2009 levels where he was one of the top prospects in baseball, but a .297 average, .956 OPS, and 21 homers in 293 at-bats is definitely worthy of the prospect tag, and future major league considerations.
The Other Candidates
Josh Harrison had an impressive month for Indianapolis. In 104 at-bats he posted a .356/.385/.654 line, with 12 doubles, five triples and three homers. He didn’t draw a lot of walks, but the average was excellent, and he had a lot of power in the form of extra base hits. Harrison was the top runner up this month.
Willy Garcia had an impressive month in Bradenton. The outfielder hit for a .308/.364/.648 line with eight homers in 91 at-bats. Those numbers are comparable to what Lambo put up, although Lambo’s numbers were slightly better and came at higher levels.
Lambo, Harrison, and Garcia did so well that there was a gap this month after those three performances. There were some other good months, but nothing that could come close to those three players. One player who had a good month was Alex Dickerson. The Altoona right fielder had a .300/.350/.567 line in 90 at-bats, along with nine doubles and five homers. Dickerson has been performing at that level since the middle of May.
Adalberto Santos struggled in May with a .200 average and a .589 OPS. However, he improved in June with a .318/.412/.489 line in 88 at-bats.
Alen Hanson continued his hitting in June, with a .300/.347/.533 line in 90 at-bats. He did see some defensive struggles again, with six errors on the month, including five of those in a four game stretch in the middle of the month.