COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. – The TinCaps enter second-half play today at West Michigan.
They know they must win at a higher rate for the remaining 70 games in order to have a shot at making the Midwest League playoffs.
It was a strange first half, one that saw Fort Wayne start 17-28 and then go 9-3 before losing eight of the final 12 before the All-Star break.
Jake Bauers has been crazy good. His on-base plus slugging percentage of .986 would lead the league if he weren't a few plate appearances short of qualifying for the official leader board.
He has played well defensively at first base. He's hitting righties and lefties.
Granted, Bauers was not on the team for the first 19 games, but he's still been its most valuable everyday player.
Honorable mention: Third baseman Dustin Peterson leads the league with 55 RBI, which stems from his .321 average with runners in scoring position.
Given his team-high 22 errors, Peterson could improve defensively, but manager Michael Collins is ecstatic with his production in the middle of the TinCaps' lineup.
Reliever Tyron Guerrero is tied for first in the league in wins (six), which helped him earn an All-Star selection.
Most of the time, he's unhittable, with a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of 0.94.
Honorable mention: Kyle Lloyd brought some stability to the rotation and solidified himself as a valuable starter after injuries to Pete Kelich and Walker Lockett opened a spot.
Lloyd (2-1) has a 3.82 ERA in his seven starts.
He could easily have three more victories, having received a no-decision in three games in which he gave up three earned runs or less over five-plus innings.
Mallex Smith, who was promoted to Advance-A Lake Elsinore this week, played a solid center field, with great range helping him reach more balls than average, and Bauers has only four errors.
Their defense sticks out on a club that has had frequent trouble in the field.
First-year skipper Collins has handled his bullpen well and maintained a positive outlook despite 125 errors.
Teenagers like Peterson and Bauers continue to develop.
Chemistry and morale are unwavering, and struggling players have shown a willingness to fight through adversity, which means Collins has done a strong job.
Ronald Herrera, 19, has made only three starts since joining the team from Beloit as part of a trade made at the major league level.
He's the second-half key for a team in desperate need of better starting pitching.
The Venezuelan right-hander was the No. 17 overall prospect in the Athletics' organization entering the season.
His career numbers hold a lot of promise. Herrera is 14-12 with a 3.30 ERA in 42 games, including 36 starts.