The 2017 Season was not the best for the Gateway Grizzlies.
The team finished with a 32-64 record, last in the Frontier League. However, the Grizzlies were the youngest team among hitters and the second youngest team among pitchers. Young players learn as they go and look to improve as the season(s) and their career continues.
Focusing on the hitters, ten of the twelve Grizzlies hitters were rookies. Six of those ten hitters were first year pros. In the Frontier League, there is a requirement that all teams must have a minimum of 11 rookies, which are classified into Rookie-1 or Rookie-2. A Rookie-1 is a first-year pro while a Rookie-2 is a player who was a Rookie-1 in the previous year in the Frontier League or someone who began their professional career the year prior.
Of the ten rookies, they combined for a .306 weighted On Base Average(wOBA) and an 86 weighted Runs Created Plus(wRC+). Considering that the league average wOBA in the Frontier League was .324 and the average wRC+ is 100, the Grizzlies struggled right?
The Grizzlies’ younger hitters were actually above league average wOBA and the average wRC+ among rookies.
In 2017, the league average wOBA among rookies was .305 while the average wRC+ was 84.
Here’s a list of the Grizzlies’ rookies and their respective wOBA and wRC+.
Some players, like Joel McKeithan and Matt Hearn are above league average in both categories overall. Others like Evan Rogers and Terry McClure are within two of the league average in both categories for Rookie-2 players.
I took the data of the last 5 years and measured wOBA by classification of Rookie-1, Rookie-2, Experienced/Veteran, comparing to the Grizzlies in 2017. Here are the results:
Players generally hit better the more they play and the chart above represents that.
Going into the 2018 season, the trend suggests the rookies on Gateway’s roster are only bound to get better.