Baseball,  Cape Cod,  sabermetrics

Dipping into Sabermetrics: Cape Cod League

Major League Baseball has created their own summer college leagues. Which I’m afraid will be incredibly detrimental to the established summer college leagues, three of which operate up here in New England (the Cape Cod League, Futures League & New England League). The Cape being the most storied & gloried of all leagues. 

That made me curious how these new MLB-sponsored leagues will effect leagues like the Cape Cod League, and how the Cape Cod League has effected Major League Baseball. But let’s narrow that down. We all know that a measurable percentage of Major League alums have spent time on the Cape. I still regard my two CCBL sets as pearls in my card collection. But let’s look at more recent Capers. And, let’s use this opportunity to learn some sabermetrics. What say, eh?

Baseball-reference goes back 5 years (4 seasons) with Cape Cod history. So I exported the 2015 pitching data into Excel and added some stats (BABIP & FIP).

The first pitcher that jumps out at me is Tyler Thomas. In 2015 as a 19 year old, Thomas played for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. That summer he strung together a 7-0 record, with a 1.02 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 44.1 innings. Drilling down, he posted a .780 WHIP, 1.78 FIP and averaged a strikeout an inning. Tyler was head and shoulders above the rest of the ’15 Red Sox staff, he was on top of his game, taking care of 33% of his outs himself, while only giving up 17 free first bases (13 walks, 4 hit batters). He also didn’t let batters hurt him. Only 1 player took Thomas yard. But, the defense also rallied behind him. The .172 BABIP is topped by only one other regular starter from that season, Dakota Hudson, who went 6-0 for a Hyannis team that won the West division. The Red Sox middled, finishing 4th/5 and 9.5 games back at 22-22.

Tyler Thomas was an impact player for the 2015 YD Red Sox, but has he made an impact in professional baseball?

 Ehhh…Not yet.

To be fair, he has spent parts of his first 3 seasons on the injured list, including a majority of the 2019 season. He also was inactive in 2020 (thanks, COVID). But, in his first three years, he has also been progressively promoted. He was a 7th round pick by the Cubs in 2017. He threw well in his 11 Northwest League appearances, posting a 2.33 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 19 innings for the Eugene Emeralds. In 2018 he was promoted to single A South Bend before being traded to the Rangers in a 1:1 straight-up for veteran righty Jesse Chavez. He moved to Hickory in the SALLY for a hot second, then got promoted to the Down East Wood Ducks in the Carolina League (A+). He was injured two starts into his 2019 season, which has definitely stalled his progression. In total, Tyler has only seen action in 9 games since the trade. 

Here’s the problem with sabermetrics, or at least sabermetrics as I understand them (and let’s be honest, I kinda don’t yet). The eyeball numbers on Tyler Thomas indicate that he may have already seen his peak.

He’s a long & lanky lefty (like that alliteration?). Clearing 6 feet but the 175 pounds he’s listed at may include ankle weights. Scouts say he’s closer to 160. He’s also got a Sunday drive fastball, sitting in the high 80s with a decent change up. The consensus with scouts is that he will struggle with AA and AAA hitters. If he recovers from the most recent injury, he could make his paycheck as an organizational guy. Though, that may even be in jeopardy now with the minor league realignment.

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