With the MLB regular season over, the baseball world focuses their eyes on the playoffs. Sadly, though there are a record 11 former Hoos in the big leagues, none of then made the playoffs. Kyle Crockett's Indians came the closest, finishing 4.5 games out of the 2nd wild card. (Ed Note: Err, forgot about Mark Reynolds...but its not a given that he makes the Cardinal's playoff roster, so there's that.)
So, with that in mind, let's take a look around the entire baseball landscape and see how all of our former Wahoos performed this year. Who did well? Who didn't? Who advanced? Who fell back?
As always, we'll start with the guys in the majors and then look at the minor leaguers. For the purposes of this piece, anybody who saw time in the majors this year will be considered a major leaguer. Major leaguers are listed in terms of seniority and minor leaguers are listed alphabetically.
Javier Lopez, San Francisco Giants - Continued to do what he does best, which is to get lefties out. Lopez allowed just a 323 OPS against lefties this year. He struck out over 22% of lefties he faced, and gave up just a .112 BA to lefties. He did not fair quite as well versus righties, allowing just a .214 BA but a 734 OPS. All told, he had a 1-0 record along with a 1.60 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. He was worth 1.4 WAR for the year. He's 38 years old, but he's still one of the best LOOGY's around, and he's signed for next year. Who knows how long he'll keep doing it, but there have been a number of left handed pitchers recently who've hung on well into their 40s.
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals - Like Lopez, Zimmerman continued to do what he does best. Unfortunately, for Zimmerman that means missing time with injuries. When healthy, Zim played 95 games and batted .249 with a 773 OPS. He had 16 HRs and 73 RBI, which isn't bad for essentially half a season, but his .308 OBP is well below his career average. He moved to first base this year, and was decent there, but his years as a gold glove 3B are behind him, largely due to shoulder injuries. A first baseman who can't stay healthy and has a 773 OPS isn't a particularly valuable commodity in baseball right now, but Zimmerman is signed for the next 4 years for a total of $60M.
Mark Reynolds, St Louis Cardinals - The Cardinals signed Reynolds to be a power hitter off the bench and a part-time platoon player for 1B Matt Adams. Unfortunately for them, that didn't work out as Adams missed more than half of the season with an injury. Reynolds became the Cardinals full-time first baseman and started 90 games there. He only struck out in about 28% of his PAs, below his career rate of almost 32%. Still, he batted just .230 with 13 HRs and 48 RBI. His 713 OPS was 37nd among MLB 1Bs. Combine that with his poor fielding and Reynolds was worth -0.6 WAR (which means he was worse than a replacement level player). Reynolds is not signed for next year, but chances are somebody will give him a couple of million dollars to be a bench player. He's still capable of hitting HRs and that has value. He would do well to sign with an AL team, so that he can DH a couple of times a week.
Brandon Guyer, Tampa Bay Rays - At age 29, Guyer finally established himself in the majors. Guyer started 79 games for the Rays, and came in as a defensive replacement in another 34 games. On the season, he batted .265 with a 771 OPS to go along with 8 HRs and 28 RBI. He stole 10 bases. He also led the entire American League with 24 HBPs. He's still under team control at the minimum salary, so as a good defensive OF in his prime, look for him to have a similar role for the Rays in 2016.
Sean Doolittle, Oakland A's - Doc was supposed to be the A's closer, after being brilliant in the role last year, but during spring training he was diagnosed with a partial rotator cuff tear. He came back in late May, pitched one inning (striking out 2 and allowing a base hit) and then went back on the DL for 3 months. He came back in late August and was finally able to take over the closer role. He finished the season with a 1-0 record, a 3.95 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and 4 SVs. In 13.2 IP, he struck out 15, walked 5 and gave up 12 hits including a HR. Hopefully for both him and the A's, he'll be healthy next year. He's signed through 2018 for a total of $10.5M (which includes the $600k that he received this year) plus a team option for 2019 and 2020 at $6.5M each.
Phil Gosselin, Arizona Diamondbacks - Gosselin began the year with the Atlanta Braves, but was shipped to Arizona at the trade deadline in a deal for pitching prospect Touki Toussaint. With the Braves, he played in 20 games, with 7 starts. He batted .266 with a 782 OPS, 2 RBI and 2 stolen bases. For that, he was worth 0.2 WAR. On May 17th, Gosselin sprained his thumb. He spent a few weeks on rehab assignments at extended spring training, then High-A ball and then AAA. Then he came up to the Diamondbacks on August 31st and remained there the rest of the way. He batted .303 with a 927 OPS in 24 games with the D-backs with 15 starts. He hit 3 HRs and drove in 13 and was worth 0.6 WAR.
Chris Taylor, Seattle Mariners - Taylor shuttled back and forth between AAA and the big leagues this year, ultimately playing 37 games in the bigs and 86 in the minors. In the minors, he batted .300 with an 820 OPS, but in the majors he batted just .170 with a 443 OPS. He struck out in nearly a third of his PAs in the majors, which was twice his K-rate in the minors. Some of this is luck, since he batted .287 in the majors last season, but he may also be overmatched by big league pitching at this point. He's only in his age-24 season, so there is still time for him to improve his bat. He was worth -0.8 WAR, but that is after being worth 1.5 WAR last season. He's a young, solid fielding SS who can also play 3B and 2B and he's cheap. So he'll likely spend next year shuttling back and forth between AAA and the big leagues again.
Kyle Crockett, Cleveland Indians - Crockett came up in May of last season for the Indians and helped solidify their bullpen, going 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 30 IP. This year, he began the season in the majors, but was shuttled back and forth between AAA and the big leagues, and he didn't pitch particularly well at either level. His problem seemed to be his control, as his walk rate skyrocketed compared to last season. For the most part, he threw the same pitches at the same speed, he just seemed to have less control this year. In the majors, his ERA was 4.08 and his WHIP was 1.36. His ground ball rate was very good, which is what you want in a relief pitcher (because ground balls can generate double plays which can help get out of pitching jams). Crockett is only 23 and will be entering just his 4th professional season, so he's expected to be a big part of the Indians bullpen going forward.
Tyler Wilson, Baltimore Orioles - After reaching AAA and pitching well there a season ago, Wilson was expecting to make his major league debut this year. The call came on May 18th when the Orioles moved Bud Norris to the disabled list. He made his debut on the 20th and pitched a scoreless inning. Two days later, he got his first win. His first start came on May 28th in the opener of a doubleheader. He pitched 6 IP, gave up just 5 hits and 2 ER while walking 1 and striking out 1. For the season, Wilson had a 3.50 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in 36 IP with a 2-2 record. He struck out just 13 batters and walked 11. That K/BB ratio is pretty bad. He was better in AAA, with a 3.5:1 K/BB ratio. In AAA he was 5-5 with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. He'll likely be back and forth between AAA and the Orioles again next year.
Jarrett Parker, San Francisco Giants - Parker got his call-up in June, and started three games between June 13th and 15th. He had just 1 hit in 9 ABs with 5 Ks. He was sent back down after that, and did not get recalled until September 11th. He started 9 games in Sept and Oct, and was used as a defensive replacement in 7 others. During that time period, he batted .400 (16/40) with 6 HRs and 14 RBI. He struck out 14 times and stole a base. Parker is a solid defensive OF who can play all 3 OF positions. He's a power hitter, but he strikes out a lot. He's going to be 27 before next season, so he's entering his peak. If he's going to make an impact at the major league level, next year will be the beginning of that (or maybe this was the beginning). He may start the season as an everyday player for the Giants.
John Hicks, Seattle Mariners - After reaching AAA near the end of 2014, Hicks began there this year. He basically repeated what he'd done last year, but had a bit less luck. He struck out 71 times in 83 games, hit 6 HRs, drove in 35 runs and stole 9 bases. He got a late season call-up to the big leagues and went 2/32 in 17 games (10 starts). An .063 BA and a 185 OPS is pretty poor, but we'll chalk that up to a small sample size. Hicks is never going to be a real weapon behind the plate, but he's a good receiver and has some pop with the bat. The Mariners aren't exactly loaded at catcher, but Hicks will probably begin 2016 back in AAA.
That's it for the major leaguers. Next up in the guys in the minors. Again, these guys are listed in alphabetical order.
David Adams, Miami Marlins - Adams spent the entire season at AA Jacksonville, where he had his best season since 2012. He batted .294 with a 790 OPS. He had 6 HRs and 50 RBI and walked more than he K'd. For a guy who spent a few months with the Yankees in 2013 and then fell apart in 2014, this was nice to see. Adams may be back in AA or he may be back in AAA next year. He'll only be 29, so getting back to the majors isn't out of the question.
Brandon Cogswell, Oakland Athletics - Cogswell spent 2015 in High-A Stockton. He played 118 games, mostly at 2B and batted .235 with a 628 OPS. He had 3 HRs and 6 SBs. Despite the poor batting line, he'll probably move up to AA. He's going to be 23 years old next year, which is old for A-ball. If he's going to get a shot in the majors, he's gotta start hitting more.
Stephen Bruno, Chicago Cubs - Bruno is 25 years old and was in AA for the 2nd year in a row. He batted .263 with a 671 OPS. He also stole 9 bases. He'll probably be back in AA for the 3rd year in a row, which might be the kiss of death for his career. Next year would be his 3rd straight in AA, and he's never shown that he needs to be in AAA. If
Brandon Downes, Kansas City Royals - In his first full professional season, Downes played Low-A ball and batted .251 with a 761 OPS. He hit 14 HRs and stole 19 bases, both of which are solid. He did strike out 115 times in 106 games. He got called up to High-A for 1 game at the very end of the season. That's where he'll begin 2016.
Jeremy Farrell, Chicago White Sox - At age 28, Farrell was one of the oldest guys in AA. And his 598 OPS isn't impressing anybody. Jeremy may always have a job in baseball, in part due to his father (Red Sox head coach John Farrell), but he may be forced to hang-em up at this point.
Derek Fisher, Houston Astros - Splitting the year between Low-A and High-A, Fisher was impressive in 2015. In Low-A, he batted .305 with a 896 OPS and in High-A he batted .262 with a 825 OPS. He had a combined 22 HRs and 87 RBI, plus 31 SBs. He strikes out a lot, which keeps his BA down, but he walks enough that his OBP is still high. He's still only 22 years old, so he's on schedule. He'll begin 2016 in AA and if he keeps it up, he could be in the majors in 2017. The Astros have a very good young core and Fisher could be a part of it.
Reed Gragnani, Boston Red Sox - Though he saw a brief stint in AAA, Gragnani spent a majority of the year in AA, where he batted .234 with a 601 OPS. He did not HR and stole 1 base. He spent 2 games in AAA, and went 0-6 with a walk. At this point, walking is the best skill Gragnani has (at the plate at least), as his OBP was 346 but his SLG was 255. At that rate, he'll be overwhelmed by more advanced pitching. Gragnani may get to start 2016 in AAA to see if he can improve.
Shane Halley, Colorado Rockies - Pitching in the Low-A Sally League as a 25 year old (that is quite old for Low-A ball), Halley went 0-1, with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. He struck out 25 batters and walked just 6 in 25.1 IP. Halley isn't a real major league prospect, but he can hang on for a few more years if he wants.
Nick Howard, Cincinnati Reds - One of the heroes of the 2014 CWS for the Hoos, Howard has struggled so far in his pro career. This year, at High-A Daytona (Florida State League), Howard had a 6.63 ERA and a 2.21 WHIP in 38 IP. His problem was control, as he walked 50 batters, while striking out 31. He only gave up 34 hits and did not allow a HR. On July 11th, he was shut down and placed on the disabled list. It was initially called shoulder soreness, but Howard did not pitch again all year. Unknown what the true nature of the injury is. Hopefully, he can get healthy and back on track next year. Presumable, he starts out back in Daytona.
Danny Hultzen, Seattle Mariners - 2015 was basically a 2nd straight lost season for Hultzen. He did not pitch at all in 2014 after rotator cuff surgery, but was getting ready to pitch in 2015. He began in AA Jackson, and pitched 3 games before being shut down again with a tired shoulder. He wasn't bad in the 3 games, striking out 8 and walking 5 in 8 IP, while giving up 10 H and 3 ER. He'll again try to rehab his shoulder and hope to return in 2016.
Nate Irving, Arizona Diamondbacks - Returning to short-season Hillsboro in the northwest league, Irving played 24 games at C and batted .276 with a 694 OPS and no HRs. Irving is only 22 years old, but 22 year olds repeating Rookie ball do not tend to progress very far. I wouldn't be surprised if Irving was out of baseball next year.
Branden Kline, Baltimore Orioles - In AA Bowie for the 2nd straight year, Kline was off to a decent start. In 39.1 IP over 8 starts, Kline had a 3-3 record with a 3.66 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and a 27/19 K/BB ratio. Not mindblowing numbers, but solid. Then on May 20th, he left a game in the 2nd inning. Within a week he was off to see Dr James Andrews. He had an injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in his elbow and was shut down. He just recently experienced more soreness in the elbow and is now off to see Dr Andrews again. It seems like Tommy John surgery could be in the cards for Kline. He's still just 24 years old, so hopefully he'll be able to come back in 2017.
Artie Lewicki, Detroit Tigers - Repeating Low-A ball, Lewicki was decent, with a 3-4 record and a 3.52 ERA in 79.1 IP. He had a 1.41 WHIP and a 77/25 K/BB ratio. The Ks are nice, but he gave up 87 hits. At this point, he's just too hittable. He'll likely move up to High-A ball for 2016, but that'll be a big test, especially moving to the Florida State League, a renowned hitters league.
Whit Mayberry, Detroit Tigers - Moving up to AA this year, Mayberry continued to impress out of the bullpen. He pitched in 18 games, throwing 36.1 IP and finished with a 3-3 record, a 2.97 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. He struck out 31 while walking just 7. He also gave up just 3 HRs. His control is outstanding, which is what has gotten him this far. His stuff isn't great though. He's a groundball pitcher which helps. Mayberry should see an advancement to AAA next year, though he may begin back in Erie (AA) to open the season.
Joe McCarthy, Tampa Bay Rays - After the college season ended, McCarthy went to the New York-Penn League to play with the Hudson Valley Renegades. He played 49 games for them, compiling a .277 BA with a 699 OPS over 202 PAs. He did not HR, but he drove in 21 and stole 18 bases. He also struck out just 23 times, versus 18 walks. He's never going to be a huge power guy, but the Rays would like to see some pop from him in the low minors. A .362 OBP is pretty good though. He'll start full season ball in 2016, probably in Low-A.
Robert Morey, Miami Marlins - Morey spent the entire season at AAA New Orleans, but didn't pitch particularly well. He was 2-7 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. He struck out 53 and walked 32 over 87 IP. His K-rate is too low to sustain quality pitching, and it's only going to get harder when he reaches the big leagues. He's a groundball pitcher, so he could make the majors as a bullpen piece. This year, he made 14 starts and 8 relief appearances. A conversion to the pen full time would benefit him.
Mike Papi, Cleveland Indians - Moving up to High-A ball in the Carolina league, Papi struggled with strikeouts. He batted just .235 with 4 HRs and 45 RBI in 126 games. He struck out 118 times in 413 ABs, though he did walk 80 times. His .361 OBP is good, but a .356 SLG isn't. Not from a guy who's expected to be a power hitter. He's only 22 and he'll move to AA next year, where he'll need to work on making more contact and, hopefully, driving the ball more.
Will Roberts, Cleveland Indians - After opening the season in AA ball, Roberts seemed to enjoy his first taste of AAA ball. He was called up at the end of June and started 12 times in AAA. He finished with a 3-4 record and a 3.06 ERA plus a 1.15 WHIP and a 39/12 K/BB ratio in 70 IP. Those numbers weren't much different than his numbers in AA (6-2, 3.77 ERA, 1.07 WHIP). You'd like to see a K-rate of better than 5 batters per 9 innings, but Roberts makes it work. He's likely not going to be a starter in the majors any time soon, so a conversion to the bullpen may help him get to the majors.
Scott Silverstein, Toronto Blue Jays - After opening the season in High-A ball, Silverstein struggled to the tune of a 5.93 ERA and 2.20 WHIP. He was shut down after a May 12th appearance. He pitched twice in August in Rookie ball, and gave up 2 runs in 3 innings. He did strike out 4 and did not walk a batter. Silverstein still has good stuff, but he can't stay healthy.
Kenny Towns, Anaheim Angels - As a 20th round draft pick, Towns was always going to start out in Rookie ball. Towns played pretty well there, compiling a .245 BA with a 660 OPS and 2 HRs, 15 RBI and 9 SBs. He's never going to be a high average guy, but he's a good defensive 3B with some pop and good speed. He'll start full season ball in 2016.
Cody Winiarski, Chicago White Sox - After struggling last season in AA, Winiarski pitched much better there in 2015. A 1-0 record and a 1.54 ERA over 23.1 IP in 17 outings with a 0.99 WHIP is pretty good, even if it was his 3rd season in AA. Winiarski is 25 which is a bit old for AA, but 28 Ks and 7 BBs is outstanding. He'll move up to AAA in 2016 and hopefully pitches well enough to warrant a call up to the majors.
Austin Young, Anaheim Angels - Young opened the season in Rookie ball, where he did not pitch particularly well, giving up 12 ER in 19 IP and walking more batters than he struck out. However, once the short season leagues ended, he moved up to Low-A ball and compiled a 3.52 ERA in 7.2 IP. Still, he walked more than he K'd, leading to a 1.96 WHIP. Young probably doesn't have much of a future in baseball, but he's just 23 and he can hang around for another few years in the low minors if he wants.
Looks like I missed Brandon Waddell. I probably missed others, so please let me know if I did. Here's a quick Waddell update.
Brandon Waddell, Pittsburgh Pirates - Waddell started 6 games for the Pirates in the short-season New York-Penn League. He went 1-1 with a 5.75 ERA and 1.52 WHIP. He struck out 18 and walked 7 in 20.1 IP. He actually pitched better than that, except for a bad stretch at the end of August when he gave up 11 ER in 8.1 IP over 3 games. After a full college season, his results this season don't matter very much. Waddell will start full-season ball, probably in Low-A next year.