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Taking a look at the Toledo Mud Hens

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Today's post starts a mini-series that takes a look at all four full-season minor league squads. The Mudhens are, of course, the Tigers AAA affiliate and the source of most, if not all of Detroit's major league ready talent. Unfortunately, the 'Hens record this year has been rather indicative of the strength of the farm system- that is to say, both are mediocre. Lets go ahead and take a look at the Tigers representative in the International League, shall we?

Toledo Mud Hens: 51-51, 11.5 GB, Intl. Lg. West

Pythagorean Record: 51-51

Mud Hens Offense:

Overall, the offense has been above average- the Mud Hens rank 5th in batting average, 7th in on base percentage and 6th in slugging percentage. That's the good news. The bad news is that the 'Hens strike out more than anyone else in the International League and they're only 8th in walks. The low OBP hurts overall OPS, leaving the 'Hens at 6th overall. Still, that's not horrible. The 'Hens are 6th in home runs, and would probably be higher if not for injuries to Ryan Strieby. They're also fast- the 5th best in stolen bases, 6th best in caught stealing and 3rd in triples.

Mud Hens Fielding:

The third-most errors and the third lowest fielding percentage in the International League belong to Toledo. Granted, a lot of this isn't the fault of the players or manager Larry Parrish- they have Ryan Strieby trying to learn left field (he was at 7 runs below average in a limited number of games last year in Erie), Jeff Larish at third base (a position he hasn't played since college) and a lack of good gloves except for Casper Wells, who saved 8 more runs than an average center fielder did while playing for Erie in 2009.

Mud Hens Pitching:

Maybe that atrocious fielding explains why the pitching is so bad. The Mudhens are 9th in ERA (and yes, I hate ERA as a metric, but until they come out with a leaderboard for the minors that shows team FIP it'll have to do). They have the second least amount of free passes allowed... but are also second to last in strikeouts, so that shoddy defense has to pick up the slack. That hasn't worked so well- the 'Hens have allowed 461 runs to score, only 3 less than they have scored.

Team MVP: Jeff Larish

He's hit .275/.373/.497 for the Mud Hens this year and pretty much anchors their lineup. His OPS is 200 points lower against lefties, however, and his strikeout rate is high at 81, but overall Larish has posted great numbers. His .367 wOBA is pretty solid, and Tigers fans should be happy to note that his MLE slash stats (which I've always found to be conservative) are .237/.316/.418. Okay, so that's not great, but if a few more hits drop in he could be a reasonable stopgap at DH.

Team Cy Young: Alfredo Figaro

The 4.18 ERA is kind of ugly for a "Cy Young", but underneath is an incredibly good FIP of 3.54. That FIP is supported by good strikeout and walk numbers- 7.70 strikeouts per 9 compared to 2.26 walks per 9 innings. Figaro hasn't been a ground ball guy, but he's kept the ball in the park (.71 HR/9, a total of 8 dingers allowed). That doesn't mean he'll be a good big-leaguer, but he's doing a very good job as staff ace for the Mudhens.

Team Relief Pitcher of the Year: Casey Fien

Yes he's gotten knocked around by the Tigers. Yes he just got cut from the 40 man. But Casey Fien has been lights-out for Toledo this year- his 2.33 ERA shows he's gotten the job done. His FIP (4.23) indicates a performance that is unsustainable, however, and the low strikeout numbers (5.53 per 9) combined with a groundball rate at around 39% worry me. He's a shut-down guy for the 'Hens, but I'm beginning to doubt his ability to stick in the major leagues.

Top Prospects

  • After opening the season on the DL, Ryan Strieby is hitting .249/.329/.415 in 265 AB. The low average is an issue, but the walks are good and the power should return once the wrist heals... if the wrist ever heals.
  • Casper Wells has had a season to forget, hitting .202/.271/.407 in 297 AB's. The power's there, but the walk rate's gone in the wrong direction.
  • Wilkin Ramirez continues to disappoint, hitting a mere .219/.274/.356 in 146 AB's. Ugh. No refinement.
  • Daniel Schlereth has had a pretty good year, putting up a 2.75 ERA supported by a 3.24 FIP. Too bad he's walking 6 batters per 9 innings.
  • Jay Sborz has been mediocre, putting up an ERA of 4.17 (and a FIP of 4.66). The problem isn't the strikeouts (9.66 per 9) but the walks (almost 4.5 per 9) and the homers (almost 1.5 per 9).