Batavia Muckdogs Notebook: 2012 Week 12

The Cardinals' affiliate fought until the last day before bowing out of the New York-Penn League playoff race.

The Batavia Muckdogs entered the final week of the regular season in the midst of a tremendous stretch. Winners of 19 of 21 games, they still trailed Auburn (Nationals) in the Pinckney Division and Brooklyn (Mets) in the Wild Card by a single game. But they dropped games at the worst time, losing three in a row to close out the season to leave them without a playoff spot.

Batavia (44-32) entered Wednesday – the final game of the season -- needing a sweep in a doubleheader at Jamestown (Marlins) and a Brooklyn loss; but they came up short by a score of 1-0 and then 3-2 in the two seven-inning contests.

It was a disappointing end to the 2012 season for a team which played short of its talent. They lost many one-run games and often made mental mistakes that cost them victories. With high draft picks and strengths in both hitting (third in the New York-Penn League in average, second in slugging, fourth in runs and first in doubles) and pitching (fourth in earned-run average, first in fewest walks allowed), the Muckdogs lost too many close games to competitive teams in the NYPL. The fact that Batavia still trailed Brooklyn and Auburn despite its epic winning pace shows how strong the teams they were competing against were – and that a few of those one-run games resulting the other way would have been advantageous for a team so close to earning a trip to the postseason.

Jacob Wilson ended a season on a tear. In his last 10 games, the infielder hit .459/.500/.757 with three home runs (his total for the whole season), eight RBI and nine runs. The 22-year-old was injured early on, and was not able to get much playing time in a competitive infield; but his bat later on in the season forced him into the lineup, primarily as the designated hitter.

Lee Stoppelman was a significant contributor to the Muckdogs' torrent of wins to close the season. In his final 15.0 innings, the left-hander posted a 29-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He finished with a 0.79 ERA, but not before getting the biggest stop of the Muckdogs' season. In Sunday's 8-7 win against Auburn in a must-win situation, Stoppelman struck out Estarlin Martinez -- a 2012 NYPL All-Star and.320 hitter at the time – with a runner on second base and two outs. It was his last appearance of the season, but this was an impressive example of his ability to bear down in a big situation.

Breyvic Valera displayed outstanding versatility and baseball instincts when he was forced into left field for four games at the end of the year due to injuries. He looked almost natural in the position despite playing second base for the entire season. The Venezuela native's seamless adaptation to a new position and the prowess he exhibited in the middle infield showed what a pure baseball player he is.


9/2 - INF Garrett Wittels placed on disabled list: The 2011 undrafted free agent finished his second season in the NYPL with a .254/.303/.376 line with a home run and 13 doubles.

9/2 - LHP Ben Freeman placed on disabled list, backdated to 8/30: the left-hander pitched 49.0 innings in his third year of professional baseball, posting a 2.39 ERA with a 3.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

9/2 - INF Bruce Caldwell transferred from Johnson City to Batavia: The 2012 15th-round pick made three errors in two games with the Muckdogs while going 1-for-6 at the plate.

9/2 - INF Ildemaro Vargas transferred from Johnson City to Batavia: The 20-year-old Venezuela native played three games for the Muckdogs with one hit in 12 at-bats.

9/4 - C Casey Rasmus transferred from Quad Cities to Batavia: Rasmus, who spent all season with Quad Cities – was flown to Jamestown for the must-win games against the Jammers on the final day of the season. Rasmus was originally in the Game 2 lineup, but with the team eliminated, he was replaced with Kolby Byrd and ended up playing just one game.

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