The Elusive Championship
After winning their second straight PCL Championship over the weekend, Tuesday night the Redbirds won the Triple-A National Championship at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio, with a 14-4 victory over the Durham Bulls in a rematch of last year’s Triple-A championship game.
Alex Meija was named MVP of the game for turning in a 5-5 performance at the plate including a double, 5 RBIs, and 3 runs scored. Only 2 Redbirds went hitless on the night, and 5 had at least 1 hit. Throughout the playoffs Mejia was a key figure in the Redbirds’ success.
After going 5-for-5 with five RBI last night, Alex Mejia was named MVP of the @TripleABaseball National Championship Game!— Memphis Redbirds (@memphisredbirds) September 19, 2018
His 18 hits this postseason are tied with Larry Sutton (2000) for most in a Redbirds postseason.
He hit .474 with 14 RBI and a 1.105 OPS in the playoffs! pic.twitter.com/GZ7iMIvEOI
On the mound, the story was Kevin Herget. During the regular season, Herget led the team in innings pitched, but his other stats were mostly average. In his 3 playoff starts, Herget struck out 16, allowed 7 runs, and improved his ERA up to 3.94 from his regular season number of 4.61.
The victory in the chamionship is the first Triple-A National Championship in team history. Memphis had chances at the national title after winning the PCL last year, in 2009 and in 2000. The 2009. 2017, and 2018 games all coming against Durham.
By the Numbers
66: That’s the total number of players that played for Memphis this season. Which is by far, a franchise record.
18: The total number of players to spend time with the Cardinals at some point in the season.
22: Redbirds players making their Triple-A debut this season.
174: The number of regular season games won by the Redbirds in the last 2 seasons. Last time a Memphis pro baseball team did that...the Single-A 1933-1934 Memphis Chickasaws.
2: The number of consecutive American Southern Division Titles, Pacific Coast League Championships, and PCL Manager of the Year honors for Stubby Clapp.
3: The number of active players from last season’s Triple-A Championship runner-up on this season’s playoff roster.
ICYMI on Saturday, something happened that's only happened three times since 1877.— Memphis Redbirds (@memphisredbirds) September 17, 2018
Back-to-back professional baseball trophies in @CityOfMemphis.
1903-04 Memphis Egyptians.
1952-53 Memphis Chickasaws.
And now the 2017-18 Memphis Redbirds. pic.twitter.com/16Xdy9nzZi
Domination From the Mound
Memphis as a unit held it down in a big way from the stripe this season. Memphis led the PCL in ERA (3.54), Saves (44), Innings Pitched (1229.2), Hits Allowed (1152), Runs Allowed (564), Earned Runs Allowed (484), and WHIP (1.28).
Individually, whereas Kevin Herget was the reliable mainstay, Dakota Hudson and Daniel Poncedeleon were the aces setting the pace. Hudson went an incredible 13-3 in 19 appearances striking out 87 with a 2.50 ERA. Poncedeleon wouldn’t be outdone even though he put together a lesser 9-4 record in 19 games. Daniel bettered Dakota in ERA at 2.24 and struck out 110. Herget led the way in strikeouts for the team at 121, but it took him 9 more appearances to do so. Hudson and Poncedeleon were arguably the two most dominant pitchers in the PCL this season.
At The Dish
The Redbirds had 6 players with over 100 hits on the season, led by Oscar Mercado at 109. If you’re looking for an MVP for ther season, you have a pretty healthy debate on your hands. Rangel Ravelo and Adolis Garcia are near the top of most offensive categories, with Mercado and Patrick Wisdom being able to make a case as well. To me though, the MVP has to be Tyler O’Neill.
O’Neill only spent a little more than half of his season in Memphis, and still managed to lead the team in home runs at 26. His Slugging Pct and OPS were 1st as well (.693 and 1.078 respectively), 63 RBIs were 3rd, 74 hits were 9th best, and his 165 total bases were 4th. If O’Neill kept the same pace the rest of the season he would have been not just the best player on the ‘Birds, but possibly one of the best players in the entire PCL.
In the end, they didn’t quite match their record setting win-loss total from last season and they had incredible amounts of turnover in their lineup. A lot of teams would have struggled to meet the huge expectations heading into the regular season. Yet, the Redbirds still ended up the champions of Triple-A baseball.
The #stlcards have his entire opening-day starting rotation. The #stlcards grabbed his leading power-hitter, and then his next leading power-hitter. The #stlcards have promoted three CFs from his team. The #stlcards are using his best starter in relief.— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) September 19, 2018
Still Stubby wins titles.
Stubby Clapp and the entire coaching staff deserve all of the recognition they’ve recieved for the job they did this year with the challenges in front of them. With Mike Shildt firmly in place in St. Louis, Stubby will be leading the Redbirds for the forseeable future. Win like this again next year, Stubby may become a hot candidate for a big promotion to the big leagues.
What’s next for the Redbirds? Extending their rule over the PCL.