Coming off a stellar 2014 campaign, capped off by the Johnson City Cardinals’ third Appalachian League title in the last five years, it is safe to assume that the team was less than pleased with the outcome of the 2015 season.
The reality of not earning a bid to the playoffs for just the second time in the last six years became official when Johnson City was defeated by the Princeton Royals 7-2 in game two of the final Appalachian League meeting between the two teams on August 28th.
The Cardinals’ year came to a close on Tuesday September 1st, as the Pulaski Yankees handed them a 1-0 loss at Cardinals Park. Johnson City’s 2015 campaign concluded with an overall record of 27-38, putting them 11 1/2 games behind the Kingsport Mets. The second-place Greeneville Astros went on to take the league title.
Residing in the cellar of the Appy League West is Johnson City’s only last-place finish since 2000. Their .415 win percentage is the club’s worst showing since 2007.
Behind the Cardinals’ 27-38 Regular Season
Longest winning streak - Friday July 31st-Tuesday August 4th (five games)
Longest losing streak - Thursday August 6th-Wednesday August 13th (eight games)
Series sweeps against - Two (Bluefield (two)
Series sweeps by - Four (Kingsport, Danville, Princeton, and Pulaski)
Home Record - 13-19
Road Record - 14-19
The Cardinals began the season 5-5, through July 1st. After four days of rain-driven postponements, the club won four straight, but turned around and dropped the next three. The Cards had two other three-game losing skids during July, finishing the month at 13-15.
August began promisingly as a five-game win streak was completed, but eight consecutive losses immediately followed. The Cards really hit a wall as the season drew to a close, losing nine of ten, including their last six, extinguishing their faint playoff hopes.
In terms of batting average, Johnson City was one of the top hitting teams in the Appy League for most of the season, yet had trouble scoring runs.
The Birds finished the 2015 regular season third in the Appy League with an overall average of .263, right behind Kingsport and Pulaski, who each had averages of .269.
However, JC accounted for 292 runs scored, over 100 runs behind the league leader. Only two offenses in the 10-team league scored less often this season.
The club hit 48 home runs and 124 doubles, second- and third-best, respectively, in the League. They struck out 508 times, third fewest, while the strikeout leaders, the Princeton Rays, only whiffed 398 times.
The Cards were successful stealing bases. They were third in stolen bases with 51 and were caught just 19 times, tied for the fewest in the league. Their 72.9 percent success rate was best of the 10 clubs.
The Cardinals finished the regular season with a 4.37 ERA, seventh in the league for the second year in a row.
Johnson City earned 16 saves, fifth in the league. That is respectable, especially considering that Birds finished with just 27 wins. That was second worst in the Appy League, behind Bluefield, which had 25.
The Cards’ pitchers were third to last in strikeouts with 483, but on the other hand, issued the third-fewest walks at 207. They were right in the middle of the pack in hits allowed, tied for fifth at 589.
2015 Appalachian League All-Stars
Sierra led the force at the plate this season, finishing with a .315 batting average, sixth in the league. He added 15 stolen bases in 17 attempts, also sixth, making his all-star selection this season a no-brainer.
Despite playing in just 42 games after his promotion from the Gulf Coast League, infielder Allen Staton (.307) led the Cardinals with nine home runs. That also tied for sixth in the Appy League. His 44 RBI tied for fourth-most in the circuit.
Alvarez (.314) clocked in with 20 doubles, tied for third-most. The Cards’ other .300 hitter was Sosa (.300). His slugging of .485 was 10th and OPS of .854 was ninth in the Appy League.
Williams also had the most strikeouts for Johnson City with 43, but that was just 28th in the league.
Among 2015 draftees, in 40 1/3 innings, Ryan Helsley (1-1) logged a club-best ERA among starting pitchers of 2.01. Chandler Hawkins led the team with four wins and posted a solid 1.84 ERA out of the bullpen.
Steven De La Cruz ended the year with six saves, a team high, tied for third-most in the league. Sasha Kuebel was the only other Cardinals player close with three saves.
On the less-positive side, Juan Bautista allowed the third-most home runs (tied) in the Appy League with nine.
Link to master article with all 2015 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selections as the Johnson City Cardinals Reliever, Starting Pitcher and Player of the Year.
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