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Legends On Deck

High Powered Bats Have Lansing in First

It was about this time last year that I was writing an eerily similar article about the Lansing Lugnuts. Toronto’s Single-A affiliate had a potent offense in 2017, but of course that club had names like Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on it. While the 2018 edition of the Lugnuts doesn’t feature the Blue Jays top two prospects, the offense has picked up right where last year’s club left off.

Lansing is 17-9 entering play on Thursday and find themselves sitting at the top of not only the Eastern Division, but the entire Midwest League. They are the only team yet to lose double digit games and have won nine of their last 12. While we are going to focus on the bats and the high powered lineup, we do have to take a moment to acknowledge one of the arms that has helped to lead the way for Lansing’s hot start.

First and foremost, Yennsy Diaz is off to a historical start. The 21 year old out of Azua, Dominican Republic has started five games this season and is 3-0 so far. His ERA is a league leading 0.31, he has allowed the fewest hits among pitchers that have tossed at least 20 innings, just six over his 28.2 IP and he has allowed just one earned run all year. He also sits in sixth on the strikeout leader board. You just can’t write an article about the Lugnuts success without bringing up Diaz’s amazing start. Now, on to the offense.

The Lugnuts have scored 167 runs this season, that is 35 more than the second place Burlington Bees. They lead in hits, home runs, stolen bases, slugging percentage and OPS while ranking second in OBP and third in AVG. The true key to the high run production has been the power, the long ball in particular.

While Bichette and Guerrero Jr. may be gone, it’s another legacy player that has been leading the way. Kacy Clemens, son of Roger, is tied for the league lead in homers with six. He also sits in second place in OPS and is one of only two players in the league with an OPS over 1.000. While he has been tearing the cover off of the ball, he has managed to keep the strikeout rate to just 17.5%. The fact that he is walking at a rate over 22% is just the cherry on top. The organization has to love the package that Clemens is providing at the dish this year.

Overall, the Lugnuts have four of the top 10 homerun totals on their roster and Kevin Smith has been the other half of the potent 1,2 punch with Clemens. Smith is tied for third in homers with four, and ranks 5th in OPS, but he has provided a little bit more in the average category than Clemens. He has 10 doubles while driving in 26 runs, both of which rank first in the Midwest League.

The Lugnuts offense has been pacing this hot start and with some outstanding performances from their pitchers, we may be in for another playoff run in Mid-Michigan. Lansing fans enjoyed their time with Bichette and Vlad Jr, but now they have another exciting duo leading the club in 2018.

Jake Berry
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Jake Berry

Contributing Writer at Legends On Deck®
Jake resides in Carrollton, GA and loves everything baseball. He is a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan and enjoys traveling to watch their Minor League teams. He graduated from the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Management. Jake is also a certified personal trainer and has a passion for fitness and weight lifting. You can find his personal site at berrysbaseball.com

You can also reach out to Jake at jberry@legendsondeck.com
Jake Berry
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