Wagner Dominates Left-Handed Batters
"Splitsville" is a series of articles on the Yankees' prospects that we'll be doing throughout their minor league careers. In version one/chapter one (v1.1) of Mike Wagner, we'll look how he did against the right-handed hitters versus the lefty hitters, how he pitched on the road versus at home, and more.
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It Is Just Not Fair: Opposing left-handed batters must be thinking that it is just not fair to have to step into the batter's box and face Mike Wagner. While opposing right-handed batters enjoyed a great deal of success against him in 2005, hitting .341 off of him, lefties struggled to collect a grand total of three hits (.115 average) off of him over the course of the entire year.
While right-handed batters hit 226 points higher against him in the NY-Penn League in 2005, they still weren't able to hit him very hard. In fact, Mike Wagner allowed just two extra-base hits all season long and both came against right-handed batters. So while lefties had a zero extra-base hit percentage against him, right-handed batters only touched him for a 13.3% extra-base hit percentage.
Mike Wagner, while getting hit often against right-handed batters, limited them to weak hits. But his absolute dominance against left-handed hitters gives him a legitimate shot at a prospering Major League career down the road.
Doesn't Add Up: Wagner's road versus home splits don't add up. While he limited opposing NY-Penn League batters to a .160 batting average at Richmond County Ballpark, home of the Staten Island Yankees, his ERA at home was two full runs higher (2.84) than it was on the road (0.84) even though opponents hit .311 off of him away from home.
Confusing the numbers even more, Wagner struck out nearly 12 batters per 9 innings on the road and just barely 7 batters per 9 innings at home. Judging from the averages at home and on the road, it would seem the strikeout ratios should be the exact opposite. The bottom line is there is a lot to like about his performance at home and on the road in 2005, but it will be interesting to see if this trend (opponents hitting for a higher average on the road) continues as he progresses through the minor leagues.
Should Get Better: Considering Wagner's tremendous overall numbers (1.59 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched), his lack of success with runners in scoring position was very surprising. Opposing NY-Penn League batters hit .316 off of him with runners in scoring position this past season, his highest average against among all of his situational splits.
While he limited opposing batters to a .237 batting average with the bases empty in 2005, opponents hit .281 off of him with runners on base. Throw in the fact that he got hit for a .313 average with runners on base and with two outs, there is certainly room for improvement in Wagner's game. But once the Yankees decide to make him a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen, his numbers are sure to take off even more.
The Difference Of Two Games: Mike Wagner was used sparingly in 2005, to say the least. He appeared in just 19 games coming out of the Staten Island bullpen this past season. While his 1.59 ERA was more than impressive against much older competition, the 20-year old southpaw was just two games away from a scoreless season.
He began the NY-Penn League season opening up with nine straight games without serving up an earned runs before giving up two earned run against Tri-City on August 8th. And after giving up his third and final earned run of the season to the Brooklyn Cyclones on August 31st, Wagner finished out the year with three scoreless appearances. He came so close to having an unblemished 2005.
Bring On The Leadoff Hitter: If there's one other area where Mike Wagner excelled in 2005, it would be pitching against leadoff men. As noted above, Wagner held opposing batters to a .237 batting average with the bases empty. He held also held opposing batters leading off an inning to a .235 average, his lowest average against among his splits.
Aiding his case for throwing him out on the mound to begin an inning was his great control. Whether he was pitching to a batter leading off an inning or a hitter with the bases empty, Wagner did not allow a free pass in those situations in 2005. All seven of his walks this past season came with runners on base. While that may be an area worth improving, Wagner's dominance with getting that first batter out is only further proof that he could be an excellent left-handed specialist our of the bullpen.
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