The Walla Walla Sweets certainly had a season to remember. As outlined in yesterday’s Year in Review piece, the summer of 2017 never lacked for excitement or intrigue.
The Sweets tore through a 58-game schedule (54 WCL games and four non-league). So as we continue recapping the year that was in #SweetsCountry, here are 58 stats that offer a numerical perspective into the team’s play.
After all, what’s the fun in writing about baseball if you can’t dive into the numbers?
1. The Sweets finished with an overall record of 25-29.
2. They went 15-12 in first half and 10-17 in second half.
3. It was the fifth-best record in eight season of Sweets history.
4. Their best record was 31-22 in 2013, the year of their only division title.
5. Their worst record was 18-30 in their expansion 2010 season.
6. J.J. Hancock set the Sweets single season batting average record in 2017. He batted .360 (58-for-161) in 39 games. 17 of his hits went for extra bases (12 doubles, 4 triples, 1 home run).
7. Nick Nyquist set the Sweets all-time record for games played with 104.
8. He’s played 52 games in back-to-back years. Only Alex Bonczyk appeared in more (53 games in 2012).
9. Nyquist also surpassed Jarren Duran and took over the franchise’s all-time stolen base record with 23.
10. Nyquist socked his sixth triple (three in 2016, three more in 2017), to brush past Duran for the Sweets’ all-time mark. Duran established both the steals record and triples record in just one summer with Walla Walla (2016).
11. But former Oregon Duck outfielder Andrew Mendenhall still holds Sweets offensive records for at-bats (384), runs scored (61), hits (122), doubles (31), home runs (10), and RBI (58).
12. After the 2017 season, Nyquist is now second behind Mendenhall in all-time at-bats (371).
13. And RBI (53).
14. Speaking of which, Jake Suddleson tied Andrew Mendenhall’s three-year-old mark for single-season RBI with 39. The two outfielders now share the team’s one-year standard. 31 of Suddleson’s ribbies came before the All-Star break.
15. By July 12th, Suddleson had homered six times. Six home runs led the team easily (Cameron Deere and Ryan Johnston had three each). Suddleson’s six big flies tie him with 2014 Sweet Mike Duarte for second-most in a single season (Mendenhall bopped eight in 2014).
16. While we’re on the topic, Bellingham’s Chase Illig established a new WCL record with 15 home runs this summer. Last season, Wenatchee’s Michael Toglia led the league with seven. In 2017, seven different players hit eight or more.
17. The WCL record for RBI in a single summer was also shattered. Kelowna’s Taylor Wright and Wenatchee’s Evan Johnson drove in 54 runs apiece.
18. Meanwhile, Bellingham first baseman Austin Shenton batted an astounding .409 (79-for-193) across 50 games played.
19. The Sweets homered 22 times in 2017, which ranked dead last among all teams. However, Victoria led all teams with 26 longballs in 2016. The Sweets, who hit 20, were tied for second-most.
20. Suffice it to say offense was up everywhere around the league this year!
21. Walla Walla batted .275 as a team this summer. That’s an all-time high. The previous benchmark had been .270 in 2014. Last year’s squad hit .241.
22. Nick Nyquist and Ryan Johnston have now scored the second- and third-most single-season runs in team history after this year (36 and 35, respectively).
23. The duo also became third and fourth in career walks (47 for Nyquist, 46 for Johnston). Jarod Gonzales, who is now a coach for the Bend Elks, holds the Sweets all-time record with 67, set between 2013 and 2014.
24. The Sweets played their entire 58-game slate without being shut out.
25. However, the team pitched three shutouts of their own, all at home (6/2 vs. Wenatchee, 6/27 vs. Gresham, 7/19 vs. Corvallis).
26. The Walla Walla pitching staff finished second in the WCL in strikeouts (442) behind Corvallis (451).
27. The 2016 Sweets set the WCL record for single-season Ks at 471.
28. Chris Lincoln and Darius Vines each turned in starts of 10 or more strikeouts. The team had three such starts in 2016.
29. And future Sweet Jarrod Molnaa whiffed 10 Walla Walla batters when he hurled 7.1 innings of long relief against us as a member of the AppleSox on June 3rd.
30. Scott Parker led the team with 49 Ks. That’s the fifth-most punchouts in single-season team history.
31. Despite their strikeout prowess, the Sweets also finished second in the WCL in walks allowed (272) behind only Port Angeles (282). In 2016, the Sweets walked just 228, which was still second in the WCL.
32. Amazingly, the Sweets staff allowed exactly one hit per inning (484).
33. Unfortunately, the Sweets finished with a team ERA of 5.02, which ranked third-worst in the WCL. In 2016, every single team finished with an ERA below five. Still, it was far from the worst mark in team history.
34. Walla Walla did not have a single starting pitcher complete seven innings this summer.
35. But they did finish second to Yakima Valley with 16 saves.
36. Those 16 saves were spread between 14 different pitchers. Only Darius Vines and Cameron Deere saved two games. Each with one: Dylan Riddle, Haydn King, Milo Mincin, Patrick Stanton, Tim Josten, Jarrod Molnaa, Benji Post, Conner Roberts, Ryan Johnston, Billy Dimlow, and Matt Amrhein
37. The 2017 Sweets featured five returning players (Nyquist, Johnston, Dimlow, Colby Watilo, and Travis Ulvestad who pitched for WW in 2015).
38. Six Sweets had 10 or more multi-hit games (Capra, Glenn, Hancock, Johnston, Nyquist, Suddleson).
39. Glenn had four games of 4+ hits, including the team’s only five-hit performance in the season finale. Capra, Hancock, and Nyquist each had two games of 4+ hits.
40. Jake Suddleson, the team’s leading run producer, had 13 multi-RBI games. No one else on the squad had more than six.
41. J.J. Hancock posted a whopping 16-game hitting streak, from July 3rd through July 21st.
42. His college teammate Danny Sinatro reached base in 20 consecutive games, from June 8th through July 6th. Nyquist also had a 19-game on-base streak at one point.
43. The team was WAY better at home (21-10) than on the road (7-20). They won back-to-back games away from Borleske Stadium only once.
44. The offensive discrepancy: the Sweets batted .288 at home and .252 on the road.
45. They knocked 89 extra-base hits at home versus just 51 on the road.
46. However, they did steal more bases while they were away (41 to 38).
47. Walla Walla stole 83 bases, more than one and a half per game. The team finished second behind the Bend Elks, who nabbed 95.
48. Last season, the Sweets paced the WCL with 116 team steals.
49. The Sweets run-scoring distribution broke down relatively evenly by inning. With one glaring exception: they managed just 17 second-inning runs all year long. Aside from the ninth, in which they scored 25 runs, they posted at least 31 in every frame. The ninth, of course, is the hardest inning to score in because when you play as many close games as the Sweets did, you’re typically facing your opponent’s best relievers.
50. Walla Walla liked to strike early: they scored 45 first-inning runs.
51. But they allowed 53 runs in fifth innings.
52. Head-to-head this summer, the Sweets finished 5-1 against finals-bound Victoria, 3-3 against Bellingham, 4-2 against Wenatchee, 2-4 against Kelowna, and 1-5 against Port Angeles. In inter-division competition, Walla Walla was 3-3 against Corvallis, 2-1 against Yakima Valley, 2-4 against Bend, 0-3 against Cowlitz, and 3-3 versus Gresham.
53. This year’s club featured three ex-AppleSox (Molnaa, Riddle, and Nyquist).
54. This year’s club featured 43 total players. 29 will be playing Division I ball next year, four will play Division II, six will play Division III, one will attend an NAIA program, and one will be at a two-year college. Andrew Miner, who played club ball at BYU, will be in Brazil for the next two seasons serving an LDS mission. Shane Matheny is in the Minor Leagues.
55. There are currently 22 ex-Sweets playing in the Minor Leagues.
56. Five players who suited up for Walla Walla this summer were drafted in 2017. Oakland took both Garrett Mitchell in the 14th round and Haydn King in the 39th. San Francisco chose Shane Matheny in the 23rd round. Darius Vines was picked by the world champion Chicago Cubs in the 27th. And Adam Kerner was made the 37th round choice of St. Louis.
57. Walla Walla drew a total of 34,998 fans for 27 WCL contests at Borleske Stadium. That figure ranked fifth-best in the league. It was over 4,000 more fans than the team drew a season ago.
58. Most importantly, it was the franchise’s EIGHTH season with the ninth coming up in 2018!
by Ben Farber