Jays From the Couch takes a look at some key players from the 2018 Vancouver Canadians season
The Vancouver Canadians saw a handful of 2017 C’s return to Vancouver. These returnees helped the club to 19-19 record in the 1st half, 1.0 GB of Evertt AquaSox. Vancouver had an even better 2nd half, going 21-17. Unfortunately, the C’s faltered down the stretch losing 2 of their last 3 games to Spokane and 4 of their last 5 games. This allowed Spokane to finish one game ahead of the C’s, pushing the defending NWL champs out of the playoff.
Vancouver finished with 40 wins and 36 losing, the best overall record in the North division.
All-Stars and Awards
Vancouver Canadians OF Tanner Kirwer, OF Griffin Conine, and RP Cobi Johnson were named to the first half All-Star team. The 2017 20th round selection, Kirwer, batted .305 with 7 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR, 8 RBI, and 13 SB. The 2018 2nd round selection, Conine, batted .255 with 7 doubles, a triple, 4 HR, and 15 RBI. The 2018 30th round selection, Johnson, threw 17IP with a 1-0 record, 2.65 ERA, 4 SV, and 17 K in 11 appearances.
At the end of the 2nd half, SP Josh Winckowski and UTL Otto Lopez were named to the All-Star team. Winckowski posted a record of 2-1 with 1.78 ERA with 40K in 35.1IP over 6 GS. He held opponents to a .237 BA and owned a sparkling 1.08 WHIP. The 19th-yr-old Lopez batted .261 with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 18 BB, 16 K, 6 SB, and 21 runs scored in 33 games.
The former 2016 15th round selection, Winckowski, won the Northwest League Pitcher of the Year honors (you will see more stats below) finishing with a record of 4-5 with a 2.78 ERA. He also won Player of the Week for the week of August 5th and August 19th.
Vancouver’s offensive numbers were less than ideal, as they finished very close to the bottom of the league in almost all categories. They did, however, do an excellent job of putting the bat on the ball as they finished with the 2nd least amount of strikeouts. Another area the C’s excelled was in the stolen base department where they stole the 2nd most bases (122).
The Canadians pitching staff carried the club, finishing near the top of the league in just about every category. Vancouver finished 2nd in ERA (3.37), saves (20), runs allowed (299), HRA (45), WHIP (1.24) and finished 3rd with 678 strikeouts. The C’s staff allowed the least number of hits than any other staff in the Northwest League with 580.
OF Tanner Kirwer finished 2nd in the NWL with 6 triples. OF Mc Gregory Contreras and UTL Otto Lopez weren’t far behind with 4 triples, good for 4th most. The Canadians only had one batter in the top-10 in home runs with Contreras hitting 8 long balls, good for 9th. 1B Jake Brodt (8th, 28) and C Christopher Bec (10th, 27) squeezed into the top-10 in base-on-balls.
Kirwer leads the C’s in SB, as well as the entire NWL with 28. Mr. August, Brandon Polizzi, swiped 19 base which ranks as the 3rd most steals. Bec was a huge surprise this season being a catcher with 16 SB (4th) and Lopez (13) finished with the 7th most SB in the NWL.
Lopez also squeezed himself in the top-10 in batting average with a respectable 8th placing thanks to a .297 BA. Otto also made an appearance on the on-base percentage top-10 at number 4 with a .390 OBP. Otto Lopez also concluded 2018 with the highest OPS on the club with a .825 OPS.
Mc Gregory Contreras finished the year with a .460 SLG% which placed him at 10th highest in the league but he also struck out more than any other Canadain (7th, 69).
Kirwer crossed the plate (32 runs scored) more and collected more hits (61) than anyone else on the Canadians roster. Brodt and Jesus Severino finished tied for the club lead in doubles with 15 while Mc Gregory, Jeff Conine, and Yorman Rodriguez finished in a three-way tie for the club lead in RBI with 30 a piece.
North Vancouver, BC native Will McAffer led the league with 7 wins out of the bullpen. Randy Pondler and Justin Watts both finished with 5 wins (T-3rd). Vancouver/NWL pitcher of the year, Josh Winckowski, finished with the 2nd best ERA (qualified pitchers) with Elio Silva finishing 3 spots behind him with a 3.82 ERA.
The C’s had a very stable rotation with Jose Espada, Winckowski, and Silva each started 13 games, good for 3rd most in the league. Pondler finished with 12 NWL starts. All-Star Cobi Johnson saved 10 games (3rd) while Connor Law finished 17 games.
Winckowski pitched the most inning of any other Vancouver pitcher, finishing with the 5th most IP in the NWL. Silva threw 66 inning which was good for 7th most. Winckowski struck out 71 batters (2nd) which beat out Espada (70) for the club lead by one.
Joey Pulido threw 24.2 innings over 15 appearances out the bullpen without allowing an earned run. He walked 7 and struck out 21 while allowing just 13 hits for a sparkling 0.81 WHIP. Watts was almost as good with 52 strikeouts and 10 walks over 36.2 IP (21 appearances) with a 0.93 WHIP out of the bullpen.
Griffin Conine showed flashes for his potential but fell a little short of expectations at the plate. He did receive favorable reviews for his play in the field and showed off a plus arm in RF. The C’s saw some players graduate early this season who may have helped push the club into the playoff had they remained with the team. Jesus Navarro batted just .143 in 9 games with Vancouver but finished with a .288 batting average as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts in 54 games. Vinny Capra was another guy whose batting average increased after being promoted to Lansing, going from .235 up to .266. Lastly, Bryan Lizardo was promoted after batting .268 with 7 doubles, a triple, and 4 HR. The lost of that production may have been the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs.
One last thing, I was ripped at the beginning of the year for suggesting that Lizardo and Jesus Severino should receive consideration as possible candidates for Lansing’s infield. Lizardo finished with the above stats in Vancouver and in 18 games with Lansing he batted .266 with 3 doubles and 6-RBI. Jesus Severino batted .270 with 15 doubles, 2-HR, and 19 RBI in 42 games. While not eye-popping numbers, it shows one show never write-off young talent too early.
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