In watching the West Michigan Whitecaps as of late, one may get the sense that the team is starting to pack it up and get ready for the next season. Not to say anyone could blame them; in fact, since they've been sitting in the bottom three of the Midwest League for pretty much the entire season, and the very bottom of the league since the start of the second half, it's not really surprising that the 'Caps have fallen victim to this situation.
Perhaps this is why the 'Caps are suffering through a four game losing skid, and have only won a single game in their past six, as they lost two of three to Clinton before being swept by Kane County.
The team is reflecting this poor play statistically, as well. For example, out of all of the pitchers on the West Michigan Whitecaps staff, only one, RHP Jared Wesson (2-1, 2.43) has a winning record. The team's work horse, RHP Trevor Feeney (7-10, 3.52) hasn't been able to buy a win as of late, although he is moving closer to the team record for innings pitched in a season. Fortunately, West Michigan has seen All Star LHP Giovanny Soto (5-6, 2.55) return from the disabled list, something that will provide a much needed boost to the team in the coming weeks.
Offensively, there are some newer pieces that are starting to look promising, while some of the players we've seen all season in Comstock Park are very much struggling.
CF Jamie Johnson's biggest strength this season has been his ability to get on base pretty consistently as a leadoff guy, a stat that we've recently seen diminish a little bit. However, this hasn't been too disappointing, as his average is still at .289. Perhaps the most disappointing player at the plate recently has been OF Michael Rockett, who, after starting the season by being the power hitter for the team, has failed to produce anything, as his home runs have come to a screeching halt and his average has sunk to .221.
However, the team has seen solid production from a few of their newer players.
1B Clay Jones, a 2010 Detroit Tigers draft pick, is starting to produce more and more as he becomes accustomed to Midwest League baseball. Aside from a .289 average, Jones also has two home runs to go along with nine RBI on the season. The team has also seen a new addition in 2B Corey Jones, who, in six games, has a .417 average with three RBI. Add this to the fact that the team's best player this season, 3B Wade Gaynor, continues to hit well for both power and average, and you have, if nothing else, something to potentially build around for next year.
As far as this year goes, it doesn't necessarily need to be considered hopeless just yet. While it can be said with confidence that the West Michigan Whitecaps will not be making a postseason run, they can still salvage their season by playing consistent baseball and moving to the middle of the division.
The team continues their swing of Western Division play with a six game home stand that includes a three game series against Wisconsin, followed by a three game series against Beloit. The team then starts play in their own division against the first half champion Lake County Captains, a team that the Whitecaps have found relative success against recently.