2010 Toledo Mud Hens Season in Review

It was an up-and-down season for the Toledo Mud Hens, as they had plenty of talent work their way through the team, but never got a consistent group of contributors due to numerous injuries, both on the team itself and especially on the big league club.

The Mud Hens finished fourth in the International League's West division, but just a few games under .500 at 70-73. The Hens did however finish the year strong, winning their last four games to get to where they were, and winning six of their last eight.

The real issues remained the constant revolving door that existed in the Toledo clubhouse, with injuries in Toledo and Detroit creating constant turmoil, leaving the team either with players that weren't ready for the level and were called up out of necessity, or players coming back to Toledo after failed attempts to succeed at the big league level. The result was virtually different lineups every day, with a total of 58 players that suited up for the Hens, 30 in the field, and 28 on the mound.

The unfortunate thing is that amongst all the talent that the club had periodically, they could have potentially put together an outstanding team at the plate.

Even going beyond the incredible brief performances from Ryan Raburn and Brennan Boesch, the Mud Hens were loaded with talent.

With Max St. Pierre behind the plate, Ryan Strieby and Jeff Larish at first base, Scott Sizemore and Will Rhymes at second, Brent Dlugach at shortstop, Danny Worth at third base, plus Casper Wellls, Clete Thomas, Wilkin Ramirez and Jeff Frazier in the outfield, this was a team made to put up runs.

But injuries started to take the team's legs out from under them before the season could get under way.

Clete Thomas played in just 21 games before undergoing micro-fracture surgery. Ryan Strieby's hand continued to act up and allowed him to play in just 73 games, missing a few weeks in May and then being placed on the disabled list for the remainder of the season in August.

Further, injuries in Detroit required call-up after call-up. Will Rhymes was gone from the team from late July on. Scott Sizemore only put in half the season between starting the year in Detroit and a call-up. Larish and Frazier got a chance to show what they could do in Detroit, before the Tigers lost Larish to waivers. Wilkin Ramirez was also lost from the organization when trying to clear waivers.

The end result was a potentially outstanding lineup hindered all year.

Utility infielder Max Leon was sixth on the team with almost 300 at-bats. Minor league veteran Jon Weber was signed and received nearly 250 at-bats. Players that were a more natural fit in Double-A such as Michael Bertram, Chris White and Justin Henry received a combined 300 at-bats. The list goes on.

But despite that, it wasn't all bad.

Frazier had a career season that was highlighted by his promotion to Detroit. He led the club with 25 homers and 73 RBI. The 25 homers was good for a third place tie for most in the IL, and the 73 RBI placed him 11th.

Sizemore also built off his successful 2009 campaign with another strong showing in 2010, with an .850 OPS as he was once again a line drive, doubles machine.

Even St. Pierre, more minor league veteran than prospect saw his production pick up with an .825 OPS while sharing time with Robinson Diaz behind the dish.

The pitching rotation saw a few constants, and then a constant shifting over the final couple slots. Ryan Ketchner, Alfredo Figaro and L.J. Gagnier each made at least 20 starts. Gagnier led the way with a 3.51 ERA, while Figaro led with 114 strikeouts.

The final two slots featured quite a few players, but none more prominent than top prospects Andrew Oliver, who got nine starts in Toledo after being sent down from Detroit via Double-A Erie. Oliver had a 3.23 ERA, while striking out nearly one batter per inning (49 K's in 53 innings pitched). While he still has some things to iron out as a prospect, he remains an exciting prospect and a fun pitcher to watch on the mound, with his mid 90's fastball.

Jay Sborz and Casey Fien highlighted the back end of the bullpen, as each was featured as the club's closer for a good period of time. Sborz had 19 saves for the Hens, but struggled in the second half of the season. Fien meanwhile was excellent, with a 2.60 ERA over 44 appearances and eight saves.

Daniel Schlereth and Robbie Weinhardt became familiar faces in Detroit for showing well in the back end of the bullpen, but before they did that, they were doing it for Toledo. Weinhardt had a 1.57 ERA in 24 appearances, with a WHIP under one and a K:BB ratio of more than 3.5. Schlereth's ERA was similarly impressive, with a 2.37 ERA in 38 appearances, as the go-to left-hander for Toledo.

All in all, it became a season that had so much promise and so many encouraging pieces, but things were just never able to all come together, and the result was some competitive baseball and some exciting individual performances, but a last place divisional finish and a sub. 500 record.

Not what Mud Hens fans hoped for in 2010, but with so many talented players emerging and possibly retrning, there's hope that 2011 will have a better future in store at Fifth Third Field.

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