2012 Quad Cities River Bandits team review

What turned out to be St. Louis' final Midwest League season in Davenport ended with a playoff miss.

2012 was a season of ups and downs for the Quad Cities River Bandits (68-71). The team failed to make the playoffs for the first time in the last three years. As reported here earlier this week, the St. Louis Cardinals have ended their eight-year relationship with the Bandits and are moving the affiliation to Peoria. This report is going to bounce around a little bit as I try to compile some thoughts through several disappointments in the last few weeks.

When the team arrived in April, they were full of hope and excitement. On Media Day, the clubhouse was buzzing with players who wanted to win. Garrett Wittels impressed me as a well-spoken young man with lots of promise. David Medina was probably the most physically impressive player with his angular build and his 6'4", 230-pound frame. It was sure to be a good year following up on the 2011 Midwest League championship.

Although April ended with a record of 13-10, the Bandits didn't seem very excited about winning. I never did figure out what was missing, but it persisted all summer.

Throughout the summer, a total of 49 players appeared on the Bandits' 25-man roster. The Cardinals have always rotated a lot of players through Davenport. This year, the team seemed to lack the cohesiveness that they needed to pull together to be a championship squad. I wonder if a more stable roster might have helped them come together. All summer, the team seemed to be a little "off." When the pitchers were throwing well, the offense fell short. When the bats were strong, the pitchers were giving up too many runs. There were several games this summer in which the team scored 10 or more runs and lost the game!

The Bandits ended the season at third place in the league in overall batting average (.261) and second in slugging at .401. They set a new team record of 4,714 plate appearances on the season. They scored more runs than any other team in the league, crossing the plate 717 times on 1,228 hits (fourth in the league). Quad Cities also led the league in doubles (269) and home runs (109) which makes it even harder to figure out why they didn't dominate the league in wins.

Statistically, this was a season that really fit the bell curve well. The Bandits were 42-24 in games when they scored the first run and 26-46 in games that opponents scored first. In games that ended in a walk-off win, they were 14-18. The deeper into the game the starter went, the more likely the team was to win. When the Bandits outhit their opponent, they won 47 and lost 19, almost exactly the opposite of when they were outhit (17-46). Quad Cities lost 80% of games in which they committed three or more errors.

The Bandits failed to win a single double header this year. In one-run decisions, they were 19-29. In two run games, Quad Cities had a record of 16-11. Monday and Thursday were the best days for winning (13-8). Tuesday was the day the league usually had off and the Bandits only won six of 14 games on Tuesdays.

Quad Cities had a winning season against Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Lake County, and Peoria. Kane County was the most frequent opponent, as they facing the Bandits 21 times, winning 11. Quad Cities had one 6-game winning streak and one 6-game losing streak this year. The biggest win was 20-3 over Beloit at home and the biggest loss was an 11-run shutout by Beloit. Twice this summer they were down by 6 runs and came back to win. The longest game Quad Cities played this summer lasted 4 hours and 15 minutes at the end of August in Clinton.

One marathon game this summer is worthy of its own paragraph. On June 10, the game in Burlington went 11 innings. Combined, the two teams had 99 at bats, 39 hits, 31 runs and 63 total bases. Eleven pitchers took the mound. There were a total of 12 walks, nine of those were issued by Quad Cities pitchers. Sadly, they lost that game 15-16 in the bottom of the 11th inning.

As I write about the pitchers and players of the year over the next few weeks I will be including more individual statistics. If you have any input on those nominations, I'd be glad to read your thoughts. You can reach me via private message on the forum at sport61201.

I'm probably more disappointed than anyone at the departure of the Cardinals from the banks of the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities. Farm director John Vuch said that there were no problems between the two organizations. The Cardinals' decision to move back to Peoria was based on logistics. Peoria is 100 miles closer to St. Louis, which cuts the drive to 2 ½ hours.

Also, since Davenport is so centrally located, there are four other teams that are commuter trips for the Bandits. That means that the team located here drives more miles than any other team in the league and more miles mean more fatigue. The Cards' move to Peoria means Davenport will be the only commuter location for them starting in 2013.

The Bandits and their fans will miss the Cardinals and I think the Cardinals will miss being in the Quad Cities. With a four-year agreement in Peoria, it will be a long time before we have a chance to get the organization back here.

Once again, if you have any input on my choices for pitchers and players of the year, PLEASE contact me on the forum. Thanks again for another great year of writing and reporting for you!

Link to master article with all 2012 award winners, team recaps and article schedules.

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