Results tagged ‘ Harbor Park ’
That was an impressive 2012, wasn’t it?
The Orioles purchased Jai Miller in the 2011-2012 offseason, and put him on the 40-man roster. That move made some sense, because Miller had hit .276/.368/.588 in the Pacific Coast League in 2011, spiked by 32 home runs. Miller didn’t make the Orioles’ roster out of spring training and was sent to Norfolk. With Norfolk, he did hit 8 home runs in 211 plate appearances; two of which were among the most impressive home runs I’ve ever seen at Harbor Park. Unfortunately for Miller, he hit just .196/.308/.397; when he was sent down to AA Bowie, he wasn’t any better. For the season as a whole, he struck out 159 times in just 364 plate appearances, so he struck out in 43.6% of his plate appearances.
To put that in perspective, when Mark Reynolds struck out 221 times (in the major leagues) in 2009, he struck out in only 33.6% of his plate appearances. Last season, Brett Jackson was widely condemned for his strikeouts in his major-league time, to the extent that the Cubs are reworking his swing; he struck out in 41.5% of his plate appearances. Even Glenallen Hill, when he hit .210 and struck out 211 times for A-level Kinston in 1985, only struck out in 39.6% of his plate appearances.
In fairness to Miller, Harbor Park may have been the worst park in all of AAA for him. The nighttime visibility there is not particularly good, and the dimensions and altitude encourage an all-or-nothing plate approach. It’s not surprising Miller struck out a lot; I don’t think anyone expected him to strike out that much.
Miller has apparently given up baseball. He’s enrolled in the University of Alabama, where he will try to play football as a defensive back for the Crimson Tide.
Any cheap-shot comment?
Sure. I have a hard time believing Jai Miller will succeed has a defensive back, because as a defensive back he has to hit.
What is it about the end of May/beginning of June that brings out the best in left-handed hitting second basemen, batting second, in Harbor Park? In 2011, Columbus Clippers second baseman Cord Phelps, a switch-hitter had a four-game series May 26-29 that we’re still talking about. Phelps played second base and batted second, and batted left-handed against right-handed pitchers. In the series, Phelps went 8-for-22 (.364), spiked with nine RBI.
This year, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees came to Harbor Park June 1-4 for what was originally a four-game series but morphed into a six-game series after two earlier Tides-Yankees games were postponed by weather. Before the series, the Yankees promoted left-handed hitting second baseman Corban Joseph from AA Trenton, and he was inserted into the #2 slot in the lineup for all six games. In his first at-bat, Joseph hit a home run into the right-field party deck. For the entire series, Joseph went 7-for-23 (.304) with three home runs, five runs scored, and four RBI. It wasn’t as spectacular a series as Phelps’ 2011 series, but still well above the expected.
So, we have two second baseman, who batted second in the lineup, who at least sometimes hit left-handed, who had terrific offensive series in Harbor Park between May 26 and June 4. And, the first three hitters of each player’s first name are “Cor”. And their last names have six letters. Does that mean that we should expect a left-handed hitting second baseman, batting second, named “Corey Romero” to have a great series in Harbor Park May 31 – June 3?
I scored for BIS two of the games in the Tides four-game series against Charlotte, and both ended in 4-3 walkoff Tides wins. While Friday night’s game lasted just over four hours and fourteen innings before John Hester’s home run ended it, Sunday’s game was completed in the regulation nine. And the Tides won it in the bottom of the ninth on a Ryan Adams walkoff single.
I score games for BIS from a seat just to the third-base side of home plate, and noticed something today that I hadn’t really noticed before. In Harbor Park, there is a “party deck” in right field that shortens the right-field foul line to 318 feet. Moving over toward center field, the outfield wall juts out pretty sharply after the party deck en route to a monstrously distant power alley of 390+ feet. What I noticed today is that the right fielders play well off the right-field foul line, probably as much as 75 to 90 feet. I assume they do so because balls hit down the line will be stopped at 318 feet, limiting all but the fastest runners to doubles. Balls hit to right-center field will roll to 370 or 380 feet, making it more important to cut the ball off.
The Tides took advantage of the defensive positioning to score their first run. Ryan Adams hit a ground ball down the right-field line and reached second before the Knights’ right fielder Conor Jackson could retrieve it. Jamie Hoffmann immediately followed with a fly ball that dropped a few feet from the right-field line, just before Jackson could reach it. It went for a run-scoring double.
There’s an interesting set of philosophical dynamics at work here. It almost certainly makes sense for teams to play their right-fielders so far off the foul line. And if minor-league baseball was primarily concerned with winning, it would obviously make sense for Tides’ hitters, right-handed hitters in particular, to shoot for that open space as much as possible. However, what works for the Tides’ interest would work against the Baltimore Orioles’ interest in developing players. Most major-league teams don’t play their right fielders so far off the foul line, so there’s less of an advantage in being able to hit balls down the line. It’s a skill of no use and developing that skill hinders the development of other, more useful skills.
It is interesting to speculate on baseball with “free minor leagues”, in which farm system affiliations are eliminated and each team at each level is responsible for acquiring their own players. Would the Tides be more successful if they could win games by teaching their hitters to hit down the foul line? Or would better players, looking for the big contracts in the National and American leagues, skip the Tides to play in more standard ballparks? Would the Tides then develop their own players who’ll spend their careers in Norfolk? I just don’t know.