2009 Memphis Redbirds Team Review

Though faced with uncertainty off the field, the Memphis Redbirds enjoyed great success on the field. The team matched the franchise's best win total while bringing home Memphis' second Pacific Coast League championship.

Coming into the 2009 season, plenty of uncertainties faced the Memphis Redbirds. During the off-season, the St. Louis Cardinals had agreed to purchase the team before reneging on the deal in January. Then during the season, Global Spectrum replaced Blues City Baseball in running the day-to-day operations. This was done at the request of the AutoZone Park bondholders after the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation, owners of the team and the ballpark, failed to make its March 1 payment of $1.625 million.

Though there was turmoil off the field, the team used consistent pitching along with a standout season from Allen Craig to enjoy tremendous success on it.

The team finished with a 77-67 record, the best in the Pacific Coast League American North Division. The team would pick up six more victories during post season play to tie the franchise record for wins.

The team's 83 victories matched the previous team high achieved during the 2000 season. That season, a first-year professional named Albert Pujols catapulted the Redbirds to its first appearance in the Pacific Coast League playoffs. On his way to being named the playoff MVP, Pujols led the Redbirds to its first PCL crown in only its third year of existence.

In the 2009 playoffs, Memphis would face the only two clubs that posted a better record than them during the regular season.

The team rode into the postseason after a strong finish to the regular season and continued their hot streak in a three-game semifinal sweep of Albuquerque. The squad hit its stride in that series, batting .333 while compiling a 1.33 ERA.

The Redbirds twice shut out the high-powered Sacramento River Cats, a team that totaled 36 runs in its four-game semifinal win over Tacoma, while holding them to a grand total of two runs.

Though the team would lose a disappointing one game take all to the International League champion Durham Bulls in Oklahoma City, the team's amazing postseason lost none of its luster. For the first time since 2000, the Redbirds will hoist a new banner in downtown Memphis.

Even though the team had its most successful campaign in years, the team still only averaged 6981 fans per game in the minor league's premier ballpark. Seas of empty seats remained even though the team featured 23 players that appeared in St. Louis over the past two seasons.

On the Mound

The pitching staff helped lead the way for Memphis' run to the postseason. The team led the PCL in ERA (4.05) while ranking fourth in saves (41), fourth in strikeouts (1036), and third best in walks allowed (453).

Manager Chris Maloney relied upon a well rounded staff more so than relying on a few pitchers having career seasons. Evan MacLane finished 13th in ERA while former teammate Clayton Mortensen finished 15th among the league leaders. Adam Ottavino finished sixth in the circuit with 119 strikeouts while P.J. Walters finished tenth with 113.

Though he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, Jess Todd finished third in the PCL with 24 saves. Royce Ring tied with Iowa's Jeff Stevens with a league-leading 16 holds.

At the Plate

Though they were consistent on the mound, the team struggled in the batter's box. The Redbirds did finish seventh in home runs (134) but was subpar with the 11th-best mark in average (.268), 14th in OBP (.332), 10th in slugging (.408), and scored the 11th most runs (649).

In positioning himself as the front-runner for the organizational Player of the Year Award, Allen Craig led the team in the triple-crown categories. The third baseman-turned-outfielder hit .322/.374/.547 with 26 home runs and 83 RBIs.

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