Lugnuts Notes: Road Series at Cedar Rapids

April 17 thru 20

  • Kernels 3 games, Lugnuts 1
  • Lugnuts are 8-8 (.500)
  • Third place, 2 games behind the Whitecaps and 1 behind the Battle Cats. The Nuts are virtually tied with South Bend. This division is really quite tight; 2 1/2 games separate top from bottom.

Jose Cepeda’s hit in every game, and has a sixteen-game hitting streak. The team’s playing better at home than on the road, but that’s expected. Our team continues to lead the league in most team hitting categories, but the pitching….

My roster preview said we needed [Pat] Hallmark on the team. That was based on his stats last season, not any inside information. Pat’s mostly been playing outfield, due partly to injuries (Schafer, Quinn, and Beltran) and partly just to keep his bat in the lineup. He’s near the top of the league’s leader list in nearly every hitting category including .323 BA, 13 Runs, 11 RBIs, and 8 Steals. A really nice start for the season.

[Matt] Treanor’s the reason Pat’s playing out of position, though; Matt’s start has been really spectacular (.289-3-12) and you can’t play two catchers. Here’s another early lesson in Midwest League baseball: Matt had a poor season in Springfield last season, and is the only Royals position player repeating in this league. [Note added 4 August 96: Not true. Juan Rocha is also a repeater. Sorry.] (Several Lugnuts pitchers spend last season in Springfield.) It looks like Matt’s second chance is paying off. I’m sure there are other explanations, but an important one is youth; Matt’s turned twenty in March. This improvement is good, and not unusual. (Now don’t give up on Beltran.)

I’m starting to get concerned about this team’s defense. I hope it’s mainly the weather. We’ll keep an eye open.

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1 Response to Lugnuts Notes: Road Series at Cedar Rapids

  1. joel says:

    Joel’s getting the hang of the blog thing. And Pat Hallmark remains one of my favorite Midwest League players.

    I’m pretty sure this entry understates the importance of the Lansing team’s outfield injuries. The Royals were quite serious about turning Hallmark into a catcher, though when he reached Double-A ball they went back to using him primarily as an outfielder. The conversion seemed a bit odd, actually; this was a player who stole thirty to forty bases every season.

    On the other hand, Pat’s hitting seemed unusually dependent on his baserunning speed. When, inevitably, he’d lose a couple steps on the bases he’d likely lose part of his batting average. Since he packed little power, perhaps the Royals suspected his long-term value was better without the speed but leading the team from behind the plate.

    Who knows? One of the Luggie staffers reminded me that the Royals had long employed John Wathan, another behind-the-plate speedster.

    Pat was back in Lansing for most of the next season. In 1997 he was primarily a catcher, and visibly a take-charge guy. Manager Bob Herald seemed to think Hallmark the key player on a team that won the Midwest League championship playoff.

    We sat with Pat’s mom–up from Texas–through one of the ’97 playoff games, in Battle Creek. She was absolutely delightful.

    Hallmark’s now coaching at Rice (which didn’t surprise me at all). Their website’s got a nice writeup about him.

    I’ll be harping on the team’s defensive shortcomings all season, and I still believe it was a weak defensive squad. But the infield turned 171 double plays, which is way off in outlier territory, so they weren’t as bad as I claimed.

    In the event you’ve just stumbled onto this entry, here’s an explanation of what I’m up to.

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