2038 Wichita Aviators Preview/Bulletin Board Material

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2038 Wichita Aviators Preview/Bulletin Board Material

Post by Ted » Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:54 am

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Wichita Aviators


So last season, it was my turn to do the Johnson League Previews for the media guide. I did them all in one day, because I'm good at procrastinating, and completely ran out of gas by the time I got to Wichita, which is alphabetically last in the alphabetically last division in the Johnson. On top of that, I was having difficulty getting the win totals to add up correctly, so I wrote the following:

Wichita is bad. Their expected record was for 91
losses last year and they are worse this year.
Also, I have written 14 team previews in the last
ten hours and am exhausted.
I do this because I am a stupid procrastinator. I am
tired, crabby, my hands hurt from typing, and I
don’t want to do this anymore.
Wichita will lose 100+ games. If “the genius”
disagrees or thinks he deserves a better preview
than this, tell him he can fight me.

I then predicted a 59-103 finish because it made the rest of the math work out and called it a day. I feel that I owe Stu a preview, so I'll try and do a better one this year.

Looking back at 2037
While the Aviators were not nearly as bad as I lazily predicted, they still finished 71-91. Their expected record of 74-88 is a tad better. The Aviators third year since coming into the league was little better than either of the first two. The record expected from their runs score and runs allowed has been right around 70-74 wins that entire time. Still, baseball is a decent draw in Wichita, and fans are still coming to the park. Wichita had the 5th highest attendance in the Johnson. One would have to think the product on the field needs to improve for this to continue. 2038 may prove to be a critical year for the future of the franchise, as many would like to see some gains made by the 4th year club.



Stats at a glance
Record: 71-91, 5th Johnson League Sun Belt
Runs Scored: 801 (4.9 per game - 8th)
Runs Allowed: 881 (5.4 per game -14th)
Payroll: 82,522,855 (14th)
Attendance: 3,168,951 (5th)

Notable Players Added:
SP Hiroyuki Rin (FA)
SP Hirotada Muira (trade-OMA)
SP Esteban Sanchez (FA)
SP Ricardo Ortiz (FA)
2B Gabriel Talamate (FA)


Notable Players Lost:
P Vicente Acevade (FA)
2B Brian Clough (RET)




Offseason Recap
The Wichita Aviators gained a whopping 11.8 WAR during the offseason, second in the entire league. Only Long Beach had more. They are also nearly twice the fifth place team. The talent largely comes in the form of starting pitching, which the Aviators sorely needed. Most of these players are not long term solutions, and there are legitimate questions about the repeatability of last year's efforts. I do think that concerns aside, the Aviators acquitted themselves relatively well.

Starting Pitching
I see the concerns some have about Hiroyuki Rin starting. He's getting older, he has a limited innings ceiling to start with, etc, etc. Still, I'm fairly bullish on him to be at least close to last year's numbers if his pitch counts are handled well. His contract is long, but that's not something we'll have to worry about for 2038. Hirotada Miura had a career year in 2037. Prior to last season he was more of a 2 win starter than a four win one, but if you believe the scouting reports he may have found another gear in his late 20's. Twenty nine year old Esteban Sanchez is a lefty junkballer at this point in his career, and is more of a back of the rotation option than middle one, but he's alright. Marcos Villegas is another back of the rotation guy, but again, is a big league arm. I'm not sold on Rogerio Vazquez belonging in the Brewster. Land Aldridge might be a better bet. On the other hand, the 24 year old really struggled last year. It's on him to prove he's worth remembering for more than his legendarily bad start last June. This will not be a good rotation. It could even end up being a disaster if something happens to Miura or Rin, but it's still an improvement. It doesn't take much to raise the bar from "on fire train wreck."

The Pen
We all wish Abe Colbert would remember how to pitch, right? It looks like there's nothing really wrong with him. Well, his best ERA since 2033 is 5.33, and that is the only one under six. Some of that appears to be batted ball luck and defense, but his FIP over the same span is right around 5.5, so only marginally better and still bad. Kidanu Cherono looks like an alright relief option and could start some day, and maybe you can get some decent innings out of Aldo Hes or Martin Torres. I'm not holding my breath though. This is a below average bullpen.

The Aviators appear to have parts of a starting rotation and a below average 'pen. I think this group will be better than the one that gave up 881 runs last year, but not enough to get them out of the bottom third of the league in pitching. Maybe they only allow 820 runs or so. That's still not very good.


Position Players
C Don Logan was a two win player in about half a season for the Aviators last year, but won't do much to help the pitching staff. It looks like he'll platoon with Andrew van Antwerpen, who is basically the same player, but right handed.

1B Jimmy Striambi and maybe Lew Driscoll look like the best bets here. That's um. Not good. This was a really weird year in that it was difficult to find first base help.

2B The newly acquired Gabriel Talamate will see most of the time here, and he still looks like a 2-3 win player. This should be an upgrade over George Anderson the 5th, who can't field worth a damn. It's unclear what Anderson's role will be going forward.

3B Cisco Guerrero looks like the best option here. That's also not good. He seems kind of replacement level-y. Solid glove, can hit lefties. Can hit righties at all.

SS Hooray! Alex Ramirez! The first legitimate star we've come to on the Wichita Aviators roster. Some scouts think Ramirez can improve over last years efforts with some more season. That'd be pretty impressive, as he was a .313/.384/.532 player last year, good for 5.4 WAR. Ramirez could be the franchise cornerstone the Aviators need. He may eventually move off short, but his bat would still be very good at second or third.

LF Alvin Dickinson has been a disappointing player throughout his career. He really can't hit left handed pitching, and shouldn't be allowed to. Still, one would think his above average glove, good speed, and okay hitting skill set would make him an okay starter. Instead, somewhere between replacement level and 4th OF.

CF Jorge Rincon can defend and run. He does both very well. That's good because he can't get the ball out of the infield and is utterly hopeless against left handed pitching. Pedro Iturbide might get most of the starts against lefties. That's also not good.

RF Pedro Martinez also could see time in CF, if Rincon doesn't work out. He's the best OF on this club. That's not saying much. He also belongs in a pltoon, but with 400-500 PA's could be a 2-2.5 win player. Jack Bullock could be the weak half of the RF platoon, and should be fine against left handed pitching.

DH Ed Curry hit 51 homers and drove in a league leading 150 batters last year, which is frankly incredible given how bad the rest of the offense was. That he had enough runners on base to reach that total is utterly remarkable. At 35, Curry is showing signs of age, but his patient approach and power help him remain a dangerous hitter.

Okay, so this is pretty underwhelming. SS and DH are the only positions you can say the Aviators are good. 2B, C and RF are a few more places where they could get 2 or so WAR. That's it. CF, LF, 3B and 1B look to be replacement level of just above. The good news is that 1B and LF might be easily addressed through trades. Will the Aviators have any reason to do so? I'm not sure moving prospect capital to improve this offense for 2038 would be the best plan. This will be a bottom third offense, and likely won't be much different from last year.


2038 Outlook
In a word. Bleak. There just isn't enough here. IN fact, I don't even see enough for the 11-12 win improvement FA would lead you to believe. Adding 11 wins to last years 74 (predicted by run differential) would give you an 85 win club. I just don't see it. There are too many holes in this roster to finish above .500. However, the Aviators were better than I thought last year, and I wouldn't put it past Stu to get a bit more out of these guys than I see. The other confounding factor is the the bottom of the Johnson league is rife with really bad teams. Still, they won't compete in a division with Phoenix, Vegas, and Mexico City.

Prediction 75-87, 4th JLS Frankly, I think this is optimistic, but even giving them this low a total is difficult given that they theoretically added 11.8 wins over the offseason.
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Re: 2038 Wichita Aviators Preview/Bulletin Board Material

Post by felipe » Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:53 am

Poor stupid Ted

We were a .500 team last year until we lost our starting CF to a season ending injury...then we limped home to a very disappointing final two months...

We are much better this year, with a little more depth

Somewhere between 80 and 90 wins in 2038

You've been told

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Re: 2038 Wichita Aviators Preview/Bulletin Board Material

Post by Ted » Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:58 am

felipe wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:53 am
Poor stupid Ted

We were a .500 team last year until we lost our starting CF to a season ending injury...then we limped home to a very disappointing final two months...

We are much better this year, with a little more depth

Somewhere between 80 and 90 wins in 2038

You've been told
This wouldn't surprise me. And if you add the players you got in FA to last years expected wins, 80-90 wins is about right. But the players on the roster just don't look like a winning club to me. It may be that the Johnson league is so bad outside of the excellent top five or so teams that makes this confusing. This team couldn't win 70 games in the Frick.
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Re: 2038 Wichita Aviators Preview/Bulletin Board Material

Post by felipe » Thu Mar 21, 2019 7:04 am

You missed Juan Perez 1B, he was injured throughout the spring, but Sparky may play first anyways - replacing Clough's .400 OBP

Then we still got Chet Gabriel in the OF mix

And I'm sure that we will pick up a juicy role player or two on waivers this sim

It's not as bleak as it looks at first glance

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Re: 2038 Wichita Aviators Preview/Bulletin Board Material

Post by Ted » Thu Mar 21, 2019 7:06 am

felipe wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 7:04 am
You missed Juan Perez 1B, he was injured throughout the spring, but Sparky may play first anyways - replacing Clough's .400 OBP

Then we still got Chet Gabriel in the OF mix

And I'm sure that we will pick up a juicy role player or two on waivers this sim

It's not as bleak as it looks at first glance
You were way better than I thought last year. It'll be fun to see how it plays out.
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Re: 2038 Wichita Aviators Preview/Bulletin Board Material

Post by felipe » Thu Mar 21, 2019 7:11 am

If it all goes according to plan, I'll see for myself just how 'good' the Frick is in October

Thanks for the excellent (if somewhat misguided conclusional) preview

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Re: 2038 Wichita Aviators Preview/Bulletin Board Material

Post by aaronweiner » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:03 am

Very generous. I have them worse than this.

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Re: 2038 Wichita Aviators Preview/Bulletin Board Material

Post by usnspecialist » Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:31 am

felipe wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 7:11 am
If it all goes according to plan, I'll see for myself just how 'good' the Frick is in October

Thanks for the excellent (if somewhat misguided conclusional) preview
I smacked you down once in the Landis, do you really want to come back for more?
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Johnson Champion- 34
Frick Champion- 36, 37
Johnson League Southern- 34
Frick League Pacific- 37, 39
,Wild Card- 33, 35, 36

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