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Diamond Update: Canes Mid-Season Awards

Diamond Update: Canes Mid-Season Awards

Lance Roffers
The Miami Hurricanes’ 2018 baseball season is now more than halfway to the finish line. The first half of the season has seen more downs than ups, and we will look back at how the season has progressed and hand out some mid-season awards.

Miami sits a disappointing 13-18 at this point in the season, but a much more respectable 7-8 in ACC play. Taking into consideration the difficult schedule Miami has played (#3 Strength of Schedule in the country) and their relative youth (11 different true freshmen have started games for Miami), it was not overly difficult to predict some bumps in the road for this team.

Miami is in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row, after ending an NCAA record 44-year streak of appearing in the NCAA tournament last season. The impetus for the poor record is an inability to win mid-week games, as they currently stand just 1-6 on the season. The low-light of the first half was an 11-9 loss to Florida Atlantic, who Miami led 9-2 after five innings and 9-5 going into the 9th inning. That loss brought about a fiery team meeting and I was all ready to proclaim that a turning point in the season in a positive way after the team rebounded and swept Virginia for the first time since 2008. However, that was not to be as Miami followed that up with program record-tying seven straight losses. A streak that was snapped in fairly miraculous fashion with a six-run fifth inning outburst that precluded the rain clouds opening up and making the game official after five innings. North Carolina had already clawed back to within 7-6 and with a taxed bullpen and a tiring Andrew Cabezas, the odds were stacked against them holding that lead. Miami will take any good fortune they can get though and the victory stands in the record books at 7-5 to bring us to this point.

Now that we know where the team stands, let’s review the hitters thus far:

Most Outstanding Player:
SS- Freddy Zamora: This would have gone to a different player just a few weeks ago, but Zamora has really caught fire recently, raising his overall batting line to .313/.405/.438. The fact that he has started every game at SS gives him the leg up on any other competitors. His batting line has been supported by strong contact skills (only 10 K’s on the season for an impressive 7.4% K percentage). Zamora has started hitting for more thump as the season has gone along and even hit his first HR of the season over the weekend against UNC. Zamora is a building block on this team and a future All-American.

His advanced metrics show this is for real with a team leading .412 wOBA (for the regulars) and a .340 Batting Average on Balls in Play showing his batting statistics are not flukey due to luck on balls hit in play. Strong contact skills, added thump, premium defensive position, and excellent on-base skills add up to the best player on the team already.

Biggest Surprise:
C- Isaac Quinones: I mentioned that the Most Outstanding Player award might have gone to a different player just a few weeks ago and that player who might’ve won it is Quinones. Miami brought in an impressive 2017 recruiting class that has seen many players contribute, but it’s one of the lowest rated recruits that is making one of the biggest impacts. Quinones had to attend an Unsigned Senior event in Florida just to get the attention of the coaches to get an offer from Miami. Seven months later he is flourishing on the team as an integral part of the lineup. Quinones is currently hitting .317/.402/.390 but a look at his advanced metrics tells a cautionary tale.

Quinones currently has an impossibly high BABIP of .481, which has already started to come down as he well above .500 just last week. To prop up his batting average and other hitting stats he is going to need to make more contact, as his K% is currently at 26.8% compared to a walk rate of only 8.2%. The team average is 9.9% for walks and 26.9% for K%. Despite some good fortune on Balls in Play, Quinones has provided a major lift to the team after starting catcher Michael Amditis was injured early in the season and his .395 wOBA is well above average for the ACC (.365).

Biggest Disappointment:
For a team having a disappointing season, there are several candidates for biggest disappointment and I had to really review the results to settle on just one hitter.

Romy Gonzalez came into the season expected to be an anchor in the lineup and he is striking out at a very high clip, walking much less than last year, and hitting for no power. His current line of .220/.286/.321 and a wOBA of .298 is extremely poor.

Michael Amditis was a ballyhooed recruit who was expected to be the difference for the team this year returning to the NCAA tournament. While he was never expected to carry the hitting numbers he started the year with last year for an entire season, his line of .270/.317/.297 and wOBA of .308 was not what was hoped for.

Michael Burns is a great story and a great kid, but as a fifth year senior he was expected to be a lynchpin of the lineup and thus far, his .242/.321/.325 line with a .325 wOBA isn’t enough production.

Alex Toral is currently hitting .147/.326/.235 and has fallen so far he is hitting at the bottom of the order when he plays and has even been losing starts at 1B to others on the roster. His wOBA of .301 is not last on the team but is nowhere near what was expected of this highly touted recruit. He has had some bad luck with only a .265 BABIP, but much of that is simply due to weak contact when he does hit the ball.

Romy Gonzalez wins the award by virtue of him being an upperclassmen, and the volume of his plate appearances leading to a team worst -7.20 wRAA (Weighted Runs Above Average).

In reviewing the pitchers, there is much better news here.

Most Outstanding Pitcher:
SP- Evan McKendry: Evan had this award locked up far-and-away prior to his last two starts, as he was consistently dominating opponents. Whether it be fatigue, or simply quality of competition, McKendry is slumping. Evan’s standard numbers do not jump out at you, with a 4-4 record and a 4.14 ERA, but looking deeper you can see a pitcher who has been fairly dominant.

McKendry is one of the best in the ACC with a 2.10 Fielding Independent Pitching number (FIP). This number tries to strip away much of what the pitcher cannot control (the actions of his fielders after the pitch is thrown) and what he can control (Walks, Strikeouts, Hit By Pitch, Home Runs). His K% of 33.7% is outstanding, and when coupled with a walk rate of only 9.7%, the result is an outstanding 24.0% K-BB%. McKendry has been unlucky, as he currently holds a .351 BABIP, which is far above the team (.306) and league (.300) averages.

Biggest Surprise:
Daniel Federman: Just as on the hitting side, Federman was not the highest touted recruit for the team, but he has been the best newcomer to the team on the mound and it’s not close. Federman has alternated between mid-week starter and weekend reliever but has performed capably in either role. His 2.55 ERA is backed up strongly by a 2.98 FIP, and while he has been a bit fortunate on Balls in Play (.245), Federman still appears to be the real deal.

Biggest Disappointment:
Greg Veliz: This award has to go to the man who came into the year hoping to use a strong sophomore year to propel himself to a high draft pick as a draft-eligible sophomore. Instead, Veliz proceeded to struggle with his control and is now out with an injury.

Wrap-Up:
It has been a disappointing season thus far for the Canes, but the freshmen have shown signs of growing up, and there appear to be some building blocks on this team for the future in Freddy Zamora, Isaac Quinones, Willie Escala, Daniel Federman, and Evan McKendry. If Danny Reyes and Greg Veliz come back healthy this is still a team that can cause some noise in the ACC.
 

Comments (9)

My hope is as the season goes on the young guys start to put it together. Seems like every year there's a team from the west coast that has a mediocre record, but is able to make some noise during the post season...we can dream...right?
 
We are now hoping to be Fresno State? LOL, I hear ya man. I'm going to Omaha, but they aren't most likely
 
Does anyone know the specific injury to Veliz? Is he expected back soon?
 
We are now hoping to be Fresno State? LOL, I hear ya man. I'm going to Omaha, but they aren't most likely

Some hope is better than no hope. Why do I feel like Belushi in Animal House giving the, Germans bomber Pearl harbor, speech right about now?
1523304867019.png
 
I don't understand these new fangled baseball statistics. Team has a very high suck ratio though.
 
The Miami Hurricanes’ 2018 baseball season is now more than halfway to the finish line. The first half of the season has seen more downs than ups, and we will look back at how the season has progressed and hand out some mid-season awards.

Miami sits a disappointing 13-18 at this point in the season, but a much more respectable 7-8 in ACC play. Taking into consideration the difficult schedule Miami has played (#3 Strength of Schedule in the country) and their relative youth (11 different true freshmen have started games for Miami), it was not overly difficult to predict some bumps in the road for this team.

Miami is in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row, after ending an NCAA record 44-year streak of appearing in the NCAA tournament last season. The impetus for the poor record is an inability to win mid-week games, as they currently stand just 1-6 on the season. The low-light of the first half was an 11-9 loss to Florida Atlantic, who Miami led 9-2 after five innings and 9-5 going into the 9th inning. That loss brought about a fiery team meeting and I was all ready to proclaim that a turning point in the season in a positive way after the team rebounded and swept Virginia for the first time since 2008. However, that was not to be as Miami followed that up with program record-tying seven straight losses. A streak that was snapped in fairly miraculous fashion with a six-run fifth inning outburst that precluded the rain clouds opening up and making the game official after five innings. North Carolina had already clawed back to within 7-6 and with a taxed bullpen and a tiring Andrew Cabezas, the odds were stacked against them holding that lead. Miami will take any good fortune they can get though and the victory stands in the record books at 7-5 to bring us to this point.

Now that we know where the team stands, let’s review the hitters thus far:

Most Outstanding Player:
SS- Freddy Zamora: This would have gone to a different player just a few weeks ago, but Zamora has really caught fire recently, raising his overall batting line to .313/.405/.438. The fact that he has started every game at SS gives him the leg up on any other competitors. His batting line has been supported by strong contact skills (only 10 K’s on the season for an impressive 7.4% K percentage). Zamora has started hitting for more thump as the season has gone along and even hit his first HR of the season over the weekend against UNC. Zamora is a building block on this team and a future All-American.

His advanced metrics show this is for real with a team leading .412 wOBA (for the regulars) and a .340 Batting Average on Balls in Play showing his batting statistics are not flukey due to luck on balls hit in play. Strong contact skills, added thump, premium defensive position, and excellent on-base skills add up to the best player on the team already.

Biggest Surprise:
C- Isaac Quinones: I mentioned that the Most Outstanding Player award might have gone to a different player just a few weeks ago and that player who might’ve won it is Quinones. Miami brought in an impressive 2017 recruiting class that has seen many players contribute, but it’s one of the lowest rated recruits that is making one of the biggest impacts. Quinones had to attend an Unsigned Senior event in Florida just to get the attention of the coaches to get an offer from Miami. Seven months later he is flourishing on the team as an integral part of the lineup. Quinones is currently hitting .317/.402/.390 but a look at his advanced metrics tells a cautionary tale.

Quinones currently has an impossibly high BABIP of .481, which has already started to come down as he well above .500 just last week. To prop up his batting average and other hitting stats he is going to need to make more contact, as his K% is currently at 26.8% compared to a walk rate of only 8.2%. The team average is 9.9% for walks and 26.9% for K%. Despite some good fortune on Balls in Play, Quinones has provided a major lift to the team after starting catcher Michael Amditis was injured early in the season and his .395 wOBA is well above average for the ACC (.365).

Biggest Disappointment:
For a team having a disappointing season, there are several candidates for biggest disappointment and I had to really review the results to settle on just one hitter.

Romy Gonzalez came into the season expected to be an anchor in the lineup and he is striking out at a very high clip, walking much less than last year, and hitting for no power. His current line of .220/.286/.321 and a wOBA of .298 is extremely poor.

Michael Amditis was a ballyhooed recruit who was expected to be the difference for the team this year returning to the NCAA tournament. While he was never expected to carry the hitting numbers he started the year with last year for an entire season, his line of .270/.317/.297 and wOBA of .308 was not what was hoped for.

Michael Burns is a great story and a great kid, but as a fifth year senior he was expected to be a lynchpin of the lineup and thus far, his .242/.321/.325 line with a .325 wOBA isn’t enough production.

Alex Toral is currently hitting .147/.326/.235 and has fallen so far he is hitting at the bottom of the order when he plays and has even been losing starts at 1B to others on the roster. His wOBA of .301 is not last on the team but is nowhere near what was expected of this highly touted recruit. He has had some bad luck with only a .265 BABIP, but much of that is simply due to weak contact when he does hit the ball.

Romy Gonzalez wins the award by virtue of him being an upperclassmen, and the volume of his plate appearances leading to a team worst -7.20 wRAA (Weighted Runs Above Average).

In reviewing the pitchers, there is much better news here.

Most Outstanding Pitcher:
SP- Evan McKendry: Evan had this award locked up far-and-away prior to his last two starts, as he was consistently dominating opponents. Whether it be fatigue, or simply quality of competition, McKendry is slumping. Evan’s standard numbers do not jump out at you, with a 4-4 record and a 4.14 ERA, but looking deeper you can see a pitcher who has been fairly dominant.

McKendry is one of the best in the ACC with a 2.10 Fielding Independent Pitching number (FIP). This number tries to strip away much of what the pitcher cannot control (the actions of his fielders after the pitch is thrown) and what he can control (Walks, Strikeouts, Hit By Pitch, Home Runs). His K% of 33.7% is outstanding, and when coupled with a walk rate of only 9.7%, the result is an outstanding 24.0% K-BB%. McKendry has been unlucky, as he currently holds a .351 BABIP, which is far above the team (.306) and league (.300) averages.

Biggest Surprise:
Daniel Federman: Just as on the hitting side, Federman was not the highest touted recruit for the team, but he has been the best newcomer to the team on the mound and it’s not close. Federman has alternated between mid-week starter and weekend reliever but has performed capably in either role. His 2.55 ERA is backed up strongly by a 2.98 FIP, and while he has been a bit fortunate on Balls in Play (.245), Federman still appears to be the real deal.

Biggest Disappointment:
Greg Veliz: This award has to go to the man who came into the year hoping to use a strong sophomore year to propel himself to a high draft pick as a draft-eligible sophomore. Instead, Veliz proceeded to struggle with his control and is now out with an injury.

Wrap-Up:
It has been a disappointing season thus far for the Canes, but the freshmen have shown signs of growing up, and there appear to be some building blocks on this team for the future in Freddy Zamora, Isaac Quinones, Willie Escala, Daniel Federman, and Evan McKendry. If Danny Reyes and Greg Veliz come back healthy this is still a team that can cause some noise in the ACC.

you forgot the award for the suckiest coach .... it's a tie between Morris and DiMare
 
Stop wasting at-bats and sit Burns, Tackett, Romy already.

Let the young guys play and gain some experience.


Jenkins, CF
Escala, 2B
Zamora, SS
Amditis, DH
Quinones, C
Rivera, RF
Cloonan, LF
Toral, 1B
Gil, 3B
 
Same ****, different year.

So where are the Jim Morris nut huggers these days?
 
Stop wasting at-bats and sit Burns, Tackett, Romy already.

Let the young guys play and gain some experience.


Jenkins, CF
Escala, 2B
Zamora, SS
Amditis, DH
Quinones, C
Rivera, RF
Cloonan, LF
Toral, 1B
Gil, 3B
I'm cool with this. Burns/Tackett/Romy would get pissed, but at this point - let them transfer.

If these younger kids are as good as everyone seems to think they can be...let them carry the team for the rest of the season...reps would pay off later...assuming DiMare doesn't suck as bad as we think he will next year and beyond.
 
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