It's been somewhat of an expectation for the Tri-City ValleyCats to win the Stedler Division in the New York-Penn League since they've done five of the last six seasons (counting this year). Four of those six seasons has seen them make it to the NYPL finals with the Cats bringing the trophy home in two of those season.
They may not have done that this year as they fell in the first round of the playoffs to Staten Island in a sweep. Staten Island would then be swept in the finals. They finished the season with a record of 42-33. They reached it largely based on offense. Sound familiar?
This team lead the league in runs, on-base percentage, and OPS. They were second in batting average and slugging. Honestly, this was not a team that I expected to be anywhere near the top when it came to OPS because they didn't seam like big power team during the season. They were in the middle of the pack with doubles, near the bottom in triples, but second in home runs. So, their team ISO wasn't high, but they high batting average helped balloon the slugging percentage.
A lot of that came from NYPL Batting Champion Bobby Wernes. Wernes held primarily a back-up role for much of the early going of the season but hit his way into the regular lineup. He ended up with a .346 batting average in fifty-three games. The 12.5% walk-rate brought his OBP up to .434, also a team lead. He's also the big representation of that low ISO as his was just .042.
A lot of credit for that OBP has to go to Johnny Sewald. He wasn't as high as Wernes but did it a lot more at-bats. His 15.6% walk-rate elevated his OBP to .413 in seventy-games. His thirty-one stolen bases made up for his lack of power (.052 ISO).
On the pitching side, it was a little rougher in the basic stats. They were in the bottom half in ERA and WHIP. However, they ranked fourth in fewest walks and lead the league in strikeouts. Given the relatively similar number of innings pitched for each team, that correlates roughly same ranks for walk and strikeout rates and we're all aware of the impact those have in advanced statistics. But, the relatively short season nature of the NYPL and the above average run environment of the TC's home park, The Joe, you can see why the ERA and WHIP weren't standout rankings.
Much like the other teams, the Astros sent a lot of pitchers through TC. Twenty-seven to be exact. Seventeen of them started games. Pitchers like Elisier Hernandez and Dean Deetz were standout pitchers who left the team early to move on to Quad Cities and the Cats pitching would have benefited from them staying longer. But, they were relieved by guys like Chris Murphy and Alex Winkelman who came up from Greeneville and pitched significant innings down the stretch.