As part of our year-end coverage on the Harrisburg Senators, I’m ranking all 53 players that played this season by what they contributed to the team’s successes and failures. Yesterday was Part I covering numbers 53 through 31 and tomorrow we’ll have the Top Ten.
If you agree or disagree with any ranking feel free to leave a comment and try and sway my way of thinking.
30. Leonard Davis (.229/.258/.347, 13R, 15 RBI, 4 SB)
LD was signed out of the independent Can-Am League in late July to re-join the Senators after spending parts of the last three seasons here in Harrisburg. Davis struggled to a .229 batting average at the plate as he played 36 games to finish the season.
29. Jesus Valdez (.261/.305/.387, 7R, 14 RBI)
Valdez picked up this season where he left off last one…in Harrisburg hitting around .270 with a little pop as a run producer in the lineup. 31 games later he punched his ticket to Syracuse where he did the exact same thing for the rest of the year.
28. Alex Valdez (.225/.278/.438, 13R, 14 RBI)
Valdez struggled in the field (4 errors in 61 chances) and at the plate (.225), but he gave all Senators’ fans a thrilling memory when he launched an extra inning, two-out pinch-hit home run into the night sky to walk off with a 2-0 victory over the Altoona Curve. One day later, Valdez was released from the organization.
27. Chris McConnell (.214/.271/.305, 19R, 15 RBI)
The light-hitting shortstop was rarely an offensive weapon in the Senators’ arsenal, but provided generally dependable defense up the middle when he wasn’t displaying a laissez-faire attitude.
26. Pat McCoy (1-2, 4 Saves, 4.78 ERA)
McCoy became a workhorse of the relievers as he appeared in more games (49) than any other Senators’ pitcher and was tied for the league lead in holds (12). However, his ERA hovered around 5 for most of the season and he was inconsistent at best as either a middle reliever or as a lefty specialist.
25. Stephen King (.191/.277/.300, 18R, 23 RBI, 5 HR)
King has struggled offensively at almost every stop of his minor league career and Harrisburg was no different for the slick-fielding third baseman. King ended up below the Mendoza line as pitch recognition and adjustments for the breaking ball were slow to come.
24. Adam Fox (.192/.253/.342, 13R, 21 RBI, 4 HR)
The native Pennsylvanian and avid hunter plugged in many holes around the diamond in both Harrisburg and Syracuse in 2011. After coming off an injury-filled 2010, Fox started this season slowly but heated up in August as the Senators began their stretch run with an undefeated road trip to Portland and New Hampshire.
23. Brad Meyers (3-2, 2.48 ERA)
The Sens’ 2011 Opening Day starter rebounded from a lost 2010 season as he excelled before being justifiably promoted to Triple-A. Meyers struck out 38 batters in 36.1 innings without allowing a walk in his six starts for Harrisburg.
22. Danny Rosenbaum (3-1, 2.29 ERA)
Like Tommy Milone and John Lannan before him, Rosenabum is a so-called “soft tossing” southpaw who has quickly climbed up the ranks of the Nationals’ organization. His 2.29 ERA in six August starts for the Senators shouldn’t be a surprise when you realize he hasn’t had an earned run average over 2.59 at any minor league stop in his career. Rosenabum has to be considered the frontrunner to be Harrisburg’s staff ace entering the 2012 season.
21. Oliver Perez (3-5, 3.09 ERA)
Perez is a mercurial personality on the ballfield and a polarizing one off as New York Mets’ fans are still bitter about Perez’ performance during his three-year, $36M contract. But watching him day in and day out coach first base and interact with his teammates and coaches, I can tell you the guy loves playing baseball and has as much fun doing it as he can. Unfortunately for him, throwing fastballs that only top off in the high-80s won’t get him a return ticket to the show any time soon.
20. Devin Ivany (.231/.292/.340, 18R, 22 RBI)
A couple of injuries and the addition of Derek Norris limited Ivany to his least number of games played (51) since his rookie season in 2004. When not starting behind the plate, the 29-year old Floridian DH’d, provided some pop off the bench, and even started Game 2 of the playoffs in left field as a way to get his bat into the order. Ivany has been a good soldier in the system and deserves recognition for his eight grueling seasons at one of the toughest positions both physically and mentally.
19. Jonathan Tucker (.224/.287/.314, 29R, 23 RBI, 12 SB)
Despite efforts to get back, Tucker’s season ended after colliding with the outfield wall in New Britain on July 2nd. Tucker hit nearly 40 points lower than his career average but his range in centerfield and surprisingly his arm were welcome additions to the squad. Bonus points for how good he was in the radio booth with Terry Byrom during the games he joined the broadcast.
18. Tanner Roark (9-9, 4.69 ERA)
Roark was a true Jekyll & Hyde as he finished the season with both nine wins and nine losses. But the 6’2″ righthander definitely turned his season around in the second half as he finished with seven quality starts in his last eight appearances.
17. Bryce Harper (.256/.329/.395, 14R, 12 RBI, 3 HR, 7 SB)
Look, if this list was based entirely on potential I think we all know where Harper would be (I mean besides locked up in Tom Verducci’s dungeon). As it stands, Harper brought an electricity and energy to the ballpark everyday even though he only played in 37 games. And despite a dip in production at Double-A, Harper was grinding out at-bats and you could see things were starting to click into place before his season ended prematurely due to a hamstring injury.
16. Jimmy Barthmaier (5-3, 5.05 ERA)
You may be wondering how a reliever with an ERA over 5 could possibly be ranked this high on the list especially when that pitcher is someone I went to great lengths to ridicule when he was stinking up the joint every night. But Barthmaier was one of, if not, the best reliever on the Senators the second half of the season as he didn’t allow a run in almost a month and a half over ten appearances and 17.2 innings.
15. Pat Lehman (1-2, 6 Saves, 3.71 ERA)
Lehman began his tenure at Double-A very strong, but then went through a rough patch over the middle third of his season. It was nice to see the reliever make the necessary adjustments to right the ship and finish the season strong. Over the final two weeks, Lehman threw a combined 8.1 scoreless innings in six appearances and allowed only one hit while striking out ten. Lehman works fast, throws strikes, and changes speeds…all recipes for success.
14. Hassan Pena (2-2, 10 Saves, 2.73 ERA)
Pena thrived in Harrisburg this season as he worked himself into the picture at the back end of the bullpen based on his performance. For the first time in his career, the 26-year old Cuban was used extensively as a closer and notched ten saves on the season. Although there were numerous times during game action when Pena let his emotions get the better of him over poor strike zones or perceived bad calls.
13. Chris Rahl (.280/.328/.417, 52R, 53 RBI, 5 HR, 25 SB)
Rahl is one of those guys that every team needs to be successful. He’s a professional player who does everything well as witness by his run production and stolen base totals hitting from every spot in the lineup. One bone of contention I have with Rahl is that he strikes out too much for my taste, but then again it seems that’s the case across the board nowadays.
12. Steve Lombardozzi (.309/.366/.454, 40R, 23 RBI, 4 HR, 16 SB)
Lombo was a consistent batter at the top of the order and his promotion to Syracuse in mid-June left a gaping hole in the Senators’ offensive production. Lost in his stellar defense and his .300 batting average at every level he’s played at is his basestealing prowress despite not being the fastest guy on the team. Lombardozzi is a master at picking his spots and reading the pitcher and his 16 stolen bases in a half-season was proof of that.
11. Cory VanAllen (5-4, 2.50 ERA)
After a couple of seasons of messing around with his role and his mechanics, it appears that the Nationals have finally figured out that VanAllen and his natural over-the-top motion have the chance for a bullpen role in their future as a LOOGY. VanAllen shined in his spot as a setup man in the seventh and eighth innings and struck out a career best 70 batters in the process. Even if baserunners do get on against VanAllen, another bullet in his chamber is one of the most devastating pickoff moves I’ve ever seen.