2018 Tacoma Rainiers Season Review
THAT'S A WRAP: The 2018 Tacoma Rainiers completed their 59th season of play with a final record of 66-73 (.475). The club finished the year in third place in the Pacific Coast League's Pacific Northern Division, 16.0 games behind the division-winning Fresno Grizzlies (82-57). The Rainiers checked in at second or tied for second place in the division for 87 days over the course of the season. Tacoma now sports an all-time record of 1,741-1,690 (.507) as the top affiliate of the Seattle Mariners after 24 seasons (1995-current). The Rainiers posted a record of 34-36 at Cheney Stadium, marking the first sub-.500 home season since 2012.
MR. MANAGER: Manager Pat Listach served as the Rainiers skipper for the fourth consecutive year in 2018, running his all-time record in Tacoma to 281-287 (.495). His 281 wins as Tacoma's manager are the fourth-most in franchise history (1st, Darren Brown, 433 wins, 2007-2013) - the Rainiers 9-3 victory over Colorado Springs on August 4 moved him past Whitey Lockman (1967-1970, Tacoma Cubs) for sole possession of fourth place.
TEAM AWARDS: The Rainiers front office, in coordination with the club's field staff, presented the following players with 2018 End of Year Awards:
- Offensive Player of the Year: Daniel Vogelbach, INF
- Pitcher of the Year: Shawn Armstrong, RHP
WALK THIS WAY: The Rainiers led all of Minor League Baseball with 623 walks this season, an average of 4.48 walks/game. They were the only MiLB team to draw more than 600 walks in 2018, and took first place by a margin of 56 free passes - the next closest MiLB team was Triple-A Fresno, who finished the year with 567 walks. The Rainiers .349 on-base percentage in 2018 was the fifth-best mark among full-season minor league teams, and the club's best mark since posting a .351 OBP in 2014. Tacoma infielder Daniel Vogelbach ranked second in the Pacific Coast League, second in Triple-A baseball, and 10th across all of Minor League Baseball with 77 walks this season. The Rainiers single-game high mark in walks drawn was 11, accomplished five times - they went without a walk in just three games.
STREAKONOMICS: Infielder Seth Mejias-Brean logged a 15-game hit streak from July 19 - August 5, which stood up as the longest hit streak on the team and tied for the ninth longest streak in the PCL in 2018. Over that stretch, Mejias-Brean hit .436 (24x55) with six runs scored, three doubles, one triple, one home run, and eight RBI. Infielder Daniel Vogelbach registered the Rainiers longest on-base streak of the season, reaching base safely in 33 straight games from June 25 - August 14. During the streak, Vogelbach hit .350 (42x120) with 23 runs scored, five doubles, nine home runs, 32 RBI, 30 walks, and a .474 on-base percentage. It was tied for the sixth-longest on-base streak in the PCL in 2018 and the longest on-base streak by a Rainiers player since Major League Baseball Advanced Media began tracking them in 2009. Right-handed reliever Shawn Armstrong notched the most consecutive scoreless outings among the Rainiers pitchers, making 14 appearances (15.1 IP) from June 14 - July 21 without allowing an earned run. Over that stretch he limited batters to a .176 (9x51) batting average while collecting 22 strikeouts and eight saves.
BOOKKEEPING: Infielder Daniel Vogelbach and outfielder Ian Miller both played their way into the Rainiers record books this season. After his performance in 2018, Vogelbach now ranks on the Tacoma franchise leaderboards in walks (7th, 195), home runs (18th, 44), and RBI (T-19th, 175). Miller, who placed second in the PCL with 33 stolen bases this year, now ranks tied for 17th in Tacoma history with 46 stolen bases.
ON THE MOVE: The 76 players (pitchers + position players) used by Tacoma in 2018 are the second-most fielded in a single season in franchise history (1st, 88, 2017). The Rainiers saw contributions from 34 positions players and 44 pitchers during the season (Danny Muno and Andrew Aplin served in both roles). Of the 23 players active for Tacoma on Opening Night (April 5), only seven were active for the club's season finale on September 3 in El Paso: pitchers Christian Bergman and Mike Morin, catcher Garrett Kennedy, infielders Gordon Beckham and Zach Vincej, and outfielders Ian Miller and Cameron Perkins. No players were active for all 139 Rainiers games in 2018 (most: OF Ian Miller, 136).
THE WHOLE NINE: From July 17-26, the Rainiers lost nine consecutive games, suffering three-game series sweeps by the Salt Lake Bees and Round Rock Express along the way. It was the longest losing streak Tacoma has endured in the 21st century, with game-by-game logs only available dating back through 2000. Before the streak began, the Rainiers were in 2nd place in the Pacific Northern Division and just 3.5 games behind the Fresno Grizzlies - once the streak was finally snapped with a 4-2 victory over New Orleans on July 27, they had fallen into a tie for 2nd place and were 9.0 games back in the division. During the streak, Tacoma's offense hit just .230 (70x304) overall, hit .176 (13x74) with runners in scoring position, and averaged only 2.7 runs per game - they scored three or fewer runs in eight straight games from July 18-26.
PDC EXTENSION: Following the conclusion of the season, the Tacoma Rainiers and Seattle Mariners announced a four-year extension of their Player Development contract that will continue their affiliation through the 2022 Pacific Coast League season. "This has always been a great relationship," Tacoma Rainiers owner Mikal Thomsen said. "Our fans in Tacoma and I are all Mariners fans, so it is a natural thing to follow players on both teams from the fan standpoint. On the business side, the Mariners - to a person and as an organization - have been great to work with, and we look forward to maintaining this affiliation far into the future." Since joining the Seattle organization, Tacoma has collected five division titles (2001, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2016), three conference championships (2001, 2005, 2010), and two Pacific Coast League Championships (2001, 2010). Rainiers players and field staff have also accumulated numerous awards over the course of the affiliation, including 47 mid-season all-star selections, one PCL Pitcher of the Year, two PCL Rookies of the Year, three PCL Managers of the Year, five league ERA champions, and one league strikeout champion. "The Mariners are excited to be able to extend our relationship with the Rainiers," Seattle Mariners Director of Player Development Andy McKay said. "The Rainiers have consistently demonstrated their commitment to providing the best possible environment for our prospects to develop, as well as providing an opportunity for baseball fans in the Pacific Northwest to meet the next generation of Mariners."
BOB ROBERTSON BROADCAST BOOTH: During a special in-game ceremony on Sunday, August 26 the Cheney Stadium home radio suite was renamed in honor of the club's legendary broadcaster, Bob Robertson. Since Tacoma's origins in the Pacific Coast League in 1960, Robertson has played an integral role in the club's success in the community through numerous roles. Most recently, for the past eight seasons, he has served as a guest broadcaster during Rainiers Sunday home games alongside Rainiers lead play-by-play broadcaster, Mike Curto. Robertson has been honored as the Washington Sportscaster of the Year 12 times, and is a member of a multitude of halls of fame including the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. He also holds claim as the final radio broadcaster to re-create a road game, translating written and phoned-in reports of far-away action into a complete broadcast.
TOP 25 MERCHANDISE SALES (2017): For a franchise-record third consecutive year in 2017, the Tacoma Rainiers placed among the Top 25 teams in licensed merchandise sales, the club announced in July. Rainiers licensed merchandise sales grew 13 percent from 2016 to 2017 to once again secure their spot among the Top 25. Prior to the franchise's current three-year run in the Top 25 from 2015-2017, Tacoma's only other venture onto the list came in 1999. Rainiers branded hats - which along with men's apparel make up 70 percent of the club's merchandise sales - have continued to connect with the Tacoma community. Since the Cheney Stadium Team Store opened in 2011, the Rainiers have gone from offering two hat styles to the 115 currently offered. Over that same span, hat sales have grown 245 percent.
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