Bats Rack: Frustrating First Half

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A frustrating first half of the 2011 season came to a disappointing close for the Louisville Bats Sunday afternoon. After winning four straight July 4-7, the Bats lost three straight July 8-10 to finish the first half of the season with a 49-43 record. The Bats trail the Columbus Clippers by 9.5 GB entering the break.

That record isn’t so bad when you consider the fact that on July 3, the Bats were 12.5 GB of the Clippers; not to mention the Bats have a record of 10-5 (7-0 at home) against the Clip-Show.

The key for this young team is to not commit an error. The Bats have committed an error in 48 games this season and are 17-31 in those games. By contrast, in the 44 games the Bats are error free, they boast a record of 32-12. It would also help if Bats pitching would not give up so many hits. The Bats are 9-31 when being outhit. And while the offense has mustered a league leading 841 hits (including 190 doubles and 99 home runs), Bats pitching has given up the second most hits in the league at 837, which averages out to 9.10 hits per game.

There have been many positives this year, though. For starters, the Bats are sending Jeremy Hermida, Devin Mesoraco, Zack Cozart, and Yonder Alonso to the Triple-A All Star Game. Alonso and Mesoraco were also selected to participate in the MLB All Star Futures Game. Cozart was recently called up by the Reds on July 7.

And now, for my Louisville Bats Mid-Season Awards:

Team MVP: Devin Mesoraco

Mesoraco has impressed to the point every Reds fan on Twitter is calling for Ramon Hernandez (who is currently batting over .320) to be traded so Mesoraco can be called up. I personally do not think Mesoraco’s defensive skill set is quite ready for the majors, but his bat is definitely ready. Devin enters the break with the team lead in doubles with 30 and with a slash line of .303/.378/.510. He also has 9 HR and 49 RBI on the year. But what makes Mesoraco the team’s MVP in the first half of the season is his .341/.437/.553 line with RISP. If the Bats have runners on with Mesoraco up, it’s basically assumed they’re going to score.

Pitcher of the Year: Jerry Gil

Gil has been stellar out of the bullpen this season. He’s appeared in 39 games, which leads the team. Most notably, Gil went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA while pitching 13 scoreless inning in the month of June. Gil has an electric fastball that has reached as high as 101 MPH on the gun. To go along with a his fastball, Jerry possesses a changeup and a good, hard-breaking slider. For a former outfielder, Gil is pretty good at this pitching thing, and could be seeing red soon.

Surprise of the Year: Zack Cozart

Cozart started the year really slow, with an average just over .200 after April. Before being called up on July 7, Cozart was hitting .310/.357/.467 with 7 HR and 32 RBI. He has carried that hot streak with him to the big leagues as he has hit .313 in 4 games with the big league club. Going into the season, everybody knew Cozart was solid defensively. No one knew his bat would catch fire like it has. If he can keep it up, the Reds may have found a new shortstop.

The first half of the season was a frustrating one for the Bats, but there’s plenty to be happy about. The Bats have 52 games remaining in the 2011 season to erase a 9.5 game deficit. If they can pull this feat off, they will have won the International League West Division crown for the fourth consecutive season.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @kevingeary10 and BRM @blogredmachine.

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Tags: Devin Mesoraco Jerry Gil Zack Cozart

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