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
We use runs created as a simple way of highlighting the top performers, but the discussion on the Player of the Month goes beyond that. We consider the level, plus all of the numbers a player puts up. This month Tony Sanchez took the Player of the Month award, amid some tough competition.
Sanchez had an incredible month of May, hitting for a .369/.442/.706 line in 65 at-bats. He had ten doubles and four homers in that span for Indianapolis. On the season the catcher is hitting for a .305/.401/.555 line in 128 at-bats, with 14 doubles and six homers. The AB/HR ratio would equal a 21 home run season with 450 at-bats in a year.
There was some debate over the amount of playing time Sanchez received. His at-bat and plate appearance total was lower than other position players, but in line with what you’d expect from the catching position. He also missed a few games after being called up to the majors as a possible replacement for Russell Martin. Ironically the argument on each side was based on playing time. The argument for Sanchez was that he put up some impressive extra base hit totals with fewer plate appearances than the other guys. The argument against him was that other players sustained their ratios with more playing time. Sanchez put up the best month you could ask for from a catching prospect, and ultimately it was decided that if he’s penalized for playing time, that would mean no catcher could ever be the Player of the Month.
The Other Candidates
Stetson Allie was the top runner up, posting the highest runs created for the second month in a row. Allie’s totals this month were almost equal to last month. The big difference is that this month there was much more competition in his range, and people who challenged him in other stat categories. Allie had a .324/.421/.611 line in 108 at-bats, with eight doubles, one triple, and seven homers. One big factor against Allie was that he was doing this in low-A, while Sanchez was putting up better numbers in the top level of the minors.
Matt Hague also had an impressive month in Indianapolis, hitting for a .304/.397/.536 line in 112 at-bats. He had nine doubles, a triple, and five homers, showing a return of his power. His power numbers have always been geared more towards extra base hits, and he’s currently on pace for 47 doubles in a 550 at-bat season.
Felix Pie had the top game score in the system for two of the four weeks in May, and hit for a .356/.446/.563 line in 87 at-bats. He had five doubles, two triples, and three homers.
Andrew Lambo showed off some impressive power with Altoona, hitting nine homers in 105 at-bats. He also had a .295/.348/.638 line in that span, and hit three doubles and three triples.