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 April. 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
It should come as no surprise that Stetson Allie is the Player of the Month for the month of April. Allie had a huge month, hitting for a .351/.409/.660 line in 97 at-bats, with eight home runs. Only two players in minor league baseball hit more than eight homers in the month of April — Miguel Sano (Twins, A+) and Devin Harris (Giants, A+), who each had nine. Seven other players in minor league baseball tied with Allie with eight homers.
Allie’s .660 slugging percentage finished 20th in minor league baseball, although a lot of the players in front of him are organizational guys. Nine of those players are 26 or older in Triple-A. Two others are 24-25 years old and in high-A (including Devin Harris). Allie’s OPS of 1.069 was 21st in minor league baseball, again with a lot of organizational guys and upper level veterans ahead of him.
In the Pirates’ system, there wasn’t anyone close. Allie’s runs created was 10 runs more than the next closest hitter, Jordy Mercer. Even more amazing is that no two players could match Allie’s home run total.
The Other Candidates
Jordy Mercer got off to an impressive start in the month of April, hitting for a .330/.398/.440 line in 91 at-bats. The most impressive part of Mercer’s game was the walk rate. He walked 11 times this month, which is one-third of his total walks between 2011-2012 in 486 plate appearances.
Andrew Lambo got off to a great start to the season, reaching base safely in his first 21 games and having an 11 game hitting streak at one point. Lambo is off to a .287/.349/.457 start in 94 at-bats, although he’s spent so much time at the Double-A level that it’s hard to take his numbers seriously.
Josh Bell was right up there in the top five in runs created, coming in at number four. That’s good to see from Bell, who is hitting for a .277/.306/.485 line in 101 at-bats. The power is there with 12 doubles and three homers, but you’d like to see more than five walks, and the 27 strikeouts are too much.
Rounding out the top five is Gregory Polanco, who has gotten off to a quietly strong start this year, following his big breakout season in 2013. Polanco hit for a .311/.373/.444 line in 90 at-bats in May. The plate patience remains outstanding, with an 8:9 BB/K ratio. He hasn’t been hitting for a lot of power, with six doubles, two homers, and a .133 ISO, but everything else in his game has been working well.