In yesterday’s First Pitch article, we looked at the hitting splits for the batters on the Greensboro Grasshoppers last season to see how their home park plays. The results showed that the park was basically neutral, and didn’t favor pitchers or hitters. There were some big splits in either direction, but out of the top 14 batters in plate appearances, seven did better at home, seven did better on the road.
I figured that we could continue on with this and make a series out of it. The short-season teams don’t have a big enough sample size to properly notice trends within individual players, so I’m keeping this to the four 2019 full-season clubs.
Today is the Bradenton Marauders and I’m looking at 15 batters here. Oneil Cruz really didn’t have a big enough sample size here, but if I stopped at 14 players like Greensboro, he would have been the top player left off the list based on plate appearances. The players are listed by the most plate appearances first, working my way down to Cruz.
Travis Swaggerty – The offense is Bradenton is usually better early in the season, then dies down in the summer. That’s help from the spring winds that you see so often during Spring Training games. That’s a ballpark quirk, but the ballpark itself doesn’t play much different than others in the league. However, Swaggerty would have a hard time believing that. He posted a .600 OPS at home and .848 on the road. That’s hard to explain, about as hard to explain as him going 14-for-14 in steals at home and 9-for-17 on the road. He hit just one homer in Bradenton all season.
Calvin Mitchell – In yesterday’s article, no one on Greensboro had a split as close as Mitchell did last year for Bradenton. He’s basically even, with .705 at home vs .714 on the road. He hit for more power at home (ten homers) and got on base better on the road.
Lucas Tancas – Tancas was basically the opposite of Swaggerty. He had an .874 OPS at home and .659 on the road. All nine of his homers came in Bradenton.
Dylan Busby – Busby had a huge split favoring his home park, but his power showed up on the road as well. His .862 OPS at home was much better than his .688 mark on the road, but 12 of his league leading 22 homers came on the road.
Deon Stafford – Stafford also had a big home split, with a .741 mark at home and .584 on the road. Just like Busby, the over-the-fence power was quite even, with Stafford hitting three of his six homers at home.
Raul Hernandez – Hernandez did much better at home, putting up a .686 OPS in Bradenton and .518 on the road. His difference was completely about singles. He compiled seven doubles, no triples and no homers, both at home and on the road. He also had more walks (8 to 6) on the road.
Daniel Amaral – Amaral is another player who did better at home. He put up a .784 OPS in Bradenton, .665 on the road.
Adrian Valerio – Valerio had a big split like most people here, but he was one of the few that favored the road. His .469 home OPS was putrid, but the .698 road mark is a solid number for the FSL.
Chris Sharpe – Another tally for the road split winning. Before he was promoted to Altoona, Sharpe had a .918 OPS on the road and .757 at home.
Jesse Medrano – Medrano was released after the season, but I left him here anyway due to his playing time. He favored the road, though not a huge split like some seen here. Medrano did poorly in both situations, but his .484 home OPS was 95 points lower than his .579 road mark.
Rodolfo Castro – Castro had Swaggerty type splits, just in a much smaller sample size. He had a .541 OPS in Bradenton and .812 on the road.
Mason Martin – Martin has a HUGE split, favoring home, which was opposite of his Greensboro time. He put up a 1.019 OPS at home in Bradenton, .744 on the road.
Lolo Sanchez – Sanchez didn’t do well at home or on the road, but he did favor his home park a little. He was at .608 in Bradenton, .530 on the road.
Robbie Glendinning – Glendinning crushed the ball in Bradenton, which got him promoted to Altoona after 43 games. He was good on the road (.827 OPS) but off the charts at home (1.223 OPS).
Oneil Cruz – As mentioned, this wasn’t really a big enough sample size here. He didn’t even play 20 games at home or on the road. Cruz got on base at a higher clip at home, but his slugging was much better on the road, resulting in a .907 road OPS vs an .805 home OPS.
These results don’t tell you much other than it’s apparently hard to do the same in Bradenton and on the road. Lots of huge splits here, but six of the 15 players favored the road and Calvin Mitchell was too close to call. It adds up to Bradenton being better for hitters than the road, but those players with big road splits shows that it didn’t help everyone.
SONG OF THE DAY
RANDOM STUFF OF THE DAY
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
By John Dreker
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and one trade of note.
Tony Alvarez, outfielder for the 2002 and 2004 Pirates. The Pirates signed Tony as a 16-year-old and he spent his first two seasons of pro ball playing in the foreign summer leagues. He came to the states in 1999 and had a decent season, but he really broke out the following year. Playing for Williamsport of the NY-Penn League, he hit .321 with a .510 slugging percentage and 38 steals in 58 games. He moved to full-season ball the next year at Hickory and hit .285 with 15 homers and 52 steals. The Pirates moved him quickly through high-A ball the next year after a .344 start in the first 25 games. In 67 games at Altoona he batted .319 with 17 stolen bases. Tony spent the 2002 season at Altoona, hitting .318 with 15 homers and 29 steals, earning a September call-up. He impressed the Pirates, hitting .308 in 14 games, but an early season suspension in 2003, followed by an injury, kept him in Triple-A during the entire season. In 2004, he began the year in Triple-A, came up in late June for a month, then returned in September when the rosters expanded. He ended up hitting .211 in 24 games, in what would be his last season in the majors. The Pirates released him in December of 2004 and he played two more seasons in the minors, first with the 2005 White Sox, then in 2006 with the Orioles. He was active in winter ball in Venezuela through 2013.
Pete Schourek, pitcher for the 1999 Pirates. He had eight seasons in at the Major League level when the Pirates signed him to a two-year contract on December 18, 1998. Schourek played for the Red Sox and Astros during 1988, going a combined 8-9, 4.43 in 23 starts and two relief appearances. For the Pirates in 1999, he went 4-7, 5.34 in 17 starts and thirteen relief appearances. He was a starter through the end of May, then moved to the bullpen for two months, before making five more starts in a row. He had a minor shoulder injury that caused him to miss two weeks, sending him back to the pen. At the end of the season, he made one last start. During Spring Training of 2000, the Pirates released Schourek and he signed with the Red Sox. He pitched two years in Boston, then signed with the Phillies in early 2002, but did not make the team, ending his career. He had a career record of 66-77, 4.59 in 288 games, 176 as a starter.
Russ Bauers, pitcher from the 1936-41 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Phillies in 1935, but was released after one season. The Pirates signed him in early 1936 and had him up in the majors by August. He pitched one game during the 1936 season and it was a forgettable one. Bauers got the start on August 20th against the Cubs and recorded just four outs, giving up five runs before being pulled. He was saved the loss by a Pirates offense that pulled out an 8-7 victory. Despite that poor start to his big league career, Bauers was a big part of the 1937 Pirates. He began the year in the rotation, then was used sparingly in May, made a few starts the next two months, before finally landing a full-time rotation spot in mid-August. In his first start back in the rotation, he threw a 4-0 shutout over the Cardinals in St Louis. He ended up going 9-3 over his last 13 outings. In 1938, he started off slow, mostly due to poor run support. Bauers finished strong though, turning a 2-7 record at the end of June into a final record of 13-14 with a 3.07 ERA.
In 1939, Bauers saw limited time due to a sore shoulder that was first hurt during a friendly scuffle with a teammate, then re-injured in an automobile accident. He pitched just 15 times, spread out from May until August, when he finally shut things down after a start that saw him face just four batters on August 18th. In 1940 he was pushed to the back of the bullpen, being used mostly in blowout losses. Of his 15 appearances in 1940, the Pirates won just one game and that was during one of his two starts. It was said of Bauers at the time, that he didn’t take baseball serious and he was labeled a bust since his rookie season. He seemed to change his attitude during the 1941 off-season and came to camp more serious, but after four poor starts and a tough time in the bullpen, the Pirates sent him to the minors. It was assumed he would return to the Pirates at some point, but he spent all of 1942 in the minors, had a sore arm to begin the 1943 season, then was inducted into the army. Bauers finally came back in 1946, but he was released midway through Spring Training. He signed with the Cubs two months later and got into 15 games for Chicago that year. Bauers ended up playing another eight seasons of pro ball after 1946, though he got into just one more Major League game, an early season outing for the 1950 St Louis Browns. After going 13-6 in 1937, looking like a promising 23-year-old starter, he pitched just 94 more games and finished his career with a 31-30 record.
Al Rubeling, utility fielder for the 1943-44 Pirates. He played six seasons in the minors before making his Major League debut with the 1940 Philadelphia A’s. He played 108 games that rookie year, with most of his playing time spent at third base. He hit .245 with 38 RBIs and 49 runs scored. Rubeling spent most of 1941 in the minors, coming back to Philadelphia for five games in September. He had spent that 1941 season with Toronto, which is where he spent all of 1942 and the beginning of the 1943 season. On July 20, 1943 the Pirates purchased his contract from Toronto for cash, plus the use of pitcher Harry Shuman until the minor league season ended. The Pirates needed Rubeling because infielder Huck Geary had quit the team and gone home. He hit .262 in 47 games for the Pirates, starting 43 of those games at second base. During the 1944 season, he spent limited time at four different positions, playing at least nine games at 2B/3B/LF/RF. Rubeling hit .245 in 92 games with 30 RBIs. He missed the 1945 season due to the war and returned to the minors in 1946 playing for Syracuse of the International League. He spent five seasons there, then played another two seasons in the minors before retiring.
On this date in 1989, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Ken Oberkfell to the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Roger Samuels. The Pirates had acquired Oberkfell from the Braves the previous August in exchange for outfielder Tommy Gregg. The veteran infielder hit just .222 in twenty games during the end of the 1988 season, then started the 1989 season even slower, batting .125 in 14 games. Samuels was 28 years old at the time of the trade. The big lefty reliever had one season in at the majors (1988 Giants), posting a 3.47 ERA in 15 appearances. After the trade, Samuels made five appearances for the Pirates (9.82 ERA in 3.2 innings) before being sent to the minors. He pitched just one more season after 1989, spending the following year in Triple-A, before retiring from baseball. Oberkfell played well after the trade, hitting .319 in 83 games. He was a free agent at the end of the year and played three more seasons in the majors before retiring.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.